The salt controversy continues to burn hotter than ever—even with so-called nutrition “experts” coming around on other topics, like dietary cholesterol.
I realize that we’re running out of scapegoats to blame for our nationwide health crisis, rather than assuming our rightful responsibility for it. And clearly, salt has made for a convenient target.
But the fact remains that there’s very little (if any) science to back up claims that we should be eating less than the measly daily recommendation—which is just a teaspoon! Yet somehow, here we are…still arguing about it.
So today, let’s talk more about sodium. Because the latest super-low-salt policy is coming way out of left field, if you ask me.
The blind leading the blind
The National Academy of Medicine recently doubled down on its advice to limit daily sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams (mg) (that’s a little over a teaspoon of salt), or a rock bottom 1,500 mg for people at high risk of heart disease (which, at this rate, is pretty much most Americans).
Then the New England Journal of Medicine ran an article endorsing this stance. One that beat the drum even harder, calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to start imposing voluntary limits on sodium.
You know, it must be nice to sit there on your high horse and advocate something, anything, nutrition-related when your own community members know almost nothing about the science of nutrition. (And certainly never studied it!)
It shows, too. Salt restriction this severe ignores established scientific facts—but it also poses a danger to your health.
I’ve written about this topic at great length before, but this is too important to ignore. Upon reviewing six decades’ worth of studies featuring more than a million people, researchers found that the actual optimal salt intake—that is, the one that carries the lowest risk of disease and leads to the longest life—is somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 mg daily.
I doubt I need to point out that this is a whole lot higher than your typical recommendation.
What’s more, research also shows that salt consumption below 3,200 mg daily is downright deadly—raising your risk of all-cause mortality and squashing your life expectancy.
So trying to force Americans to slash their salt intake? Well… that takes some real nerve.
Sodium imbalance kills
It’s really quite simple: Your body needs salt to stay alive. Sodium is a key player in a host of biological functions—most notably nerve conduction, muscle contraction, and the fluid balance that keeps nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood flowing everywhere it needs to go.
All of these processes require very precise amounts of sodium to continue. Too little, and your kidneys will work overtime to hold onto it. Too much, and your body has to work to eliminate it through your skin, intestines, and kidneys.
The fact is, you’re a lot more likely to die from failure to keep up this balancing act than from salt-related high blood pressure. And even small decreases in blood levels of sodium point to higher mortality among healthy people.
For example, studies show that in healthy middle-aged men, mortality risk nearly doubles without enough salt. Same goes for the elderly and the critically ill. And when blood levels of sodium are low upon hospital admission, the risk of extended stays, discharge into care facilities, and inpatient death shoot way up.
In other words, dietary guidelines come and go, but sodium restriction has always defied any logic. So it’s a good thing, really, that most people aren’t blindly listening to these idiots.
In fact, despite all of the government’s misguided efforts, the average American’s sodium intake still hovers between 3,600 and 3,700 mg daily.
Now don’t get me wrong—this isn’t carte blanche to have a free-for-all. High-sodium packaged and processed junk will never be healthy, and this research doesn’t change that fact. But as long as you’re eating real food, just go ahead and add salt to it.
P.S. In addition to salt restriction, there are other dietary guidelines that you need to be aware of. In fact, I wrote all about this in the March 2015 issue of my Logical Health Alternatives newsletter (“‘Big changes’ to the US Dietary Guidelines for 2015”). Subscribers have access to this issue, as well as my entire archive. Not a member? No worries. Click here to learn more and sign up today.
“National Academies Report Reduces Daily Sodium Limits.” Medscape Medical News, 03/06/2019. (medscape.com/viewarticle/909970)