You probably aren’t going to believe what I have to tell you today.
I say that because it’s 180 degrees contrary to everything you’ve ever heard. But you’ve heard it so often from so many people you trust–doctors, teachers, friends, probably even your mom–that it’s most likely stuck in the section of your brain reserved for unshakable truths.
Here it is: Lowering sodium intake may actually increase risk of heart attack and death.
And here’s the proof: In three different trials that tested low-sodium diets on patients with kidney disease and heart failure, results linked the special diets to higher risk of hospitalizations, cardiovascular events, and death.
Yeah–THAT wasn’t supposed to happen!
In a recent Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Michael Alderman (a past president of the International Society of Hypertension) called for large-scale clinical trials that will hopefully produce definitive data on what outcomes can be expected in following a reduced-sodium diet.
And why would we need those trials?
According to Dr. David McCarron–a nutritionist and University of California professor–there’s currently no reliable evidence that backs up the accepted recommendation to reduce sodium intake for heart health. Dr. McCarron says the recommendation is based only on opinion and the demonization of salt by health authorities, such as the CDC.
And now I’ll tell you something you’ll have no trouble believing.
One of the key points in the new USDA dietary recommendations: Significantly reduce sodium intake.
Real life mythbuster
Writing about the new USDA recommendations in Canada’s Financial Post, Dr. McCarron has more salt myths to bust.
Last year he led a study that measured daily salt intake in more than 19,000 subjects from about 30 countries.
The three surprising conclusions:
1) Americans consume no more salt than people in other countries
2) Salt consumption in the U.S. has NOT increased over the past 25 years
3) No matter how salty your food, your body naturally regulates your intake, so you wind up with a consistent overall intake
This is why deliberately forcing down your salt intake is a bad plan–not healthy at all. Your body takes what it needs. And it does need sodium.
Several years ago, German research showed that as many as 1 in 10 seniors suffer from hyponatraemia (low blood levels of sodium).
Hyponatraemia usually goes undiagnosed because symptoms are similar to conditions we associate with aging: fatigue, confusion, poor balance, and incontinence. In advanced hyponatraemia, patients have hallucinations and may even lapse into a coma.
The German study reported that a large majority of the elderly subjects said they avoided salt based on the popular misconception that salt intake causes high blood pressure.
Gee, USDA, I wonder where they’re getting that misguided information.
To Your Good Health,
“Junk Science Week: Salt scare lacks solid evidence” David McCarron, Financial Post, 6/14/10, financialpost.com
“Can Dietary Sodium Intake Be Modified by Public Policy?” Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, Vol. 4, No. 11, 11/1/09, cjasn.asnjournals.org
“European Geriatrics Congress: Low Salt Diet a Danger for Elderly” European Geriatrics Congress News Release, 9/20/04, prnewswire.co.uk