When cooking sacred cow, do NOT forget the salt

How to cook a sacred cow

Happy Thanksgiving!

For today’s holiday dinner, I’m going to change up the traditional menu and serve something that’s long overdue: sacred cow.

I’m going to have mine medium-rare, please, with just the right amount of salt.

That’s right — SALT, or rather sodium — which our bodies require for simple survival.

But don’t expect to hear anything like that from your doctor. In fact, if you follow advice most doctors pass out and cut your sodium intake dramatically, you could actually HARM your health.

And the older you get, the greater the risk.

Appalling the experts

I came across this headline that reports on important new research: “Study questions benefits of low salt diet, experts quick to dismiss.”

Please! They can’t even write a headline without allowing for so-called experts who panic at the very thought of having to change their recommendation to slash sodium from your diet.

To the chagrin of those experts, this study doesn’t appear in Crazy Fringe Medical Digest — it’s published in the Big Daddy of them all, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Belgian researchers examined eight years of data that compared sodium excretion and cardiovascular deaths among more than 3,600 subjects without heart disease.

Their results: “Lower sodium excretion was associated with higher CVD mortality.”

And they add: “Our current findings…do also not support the current recommendations of a generalized and indiscriminate reduction of salt intake at the population level.”

For me, the word that jumps out there is “indiscriminate,” because it IS indiscriminate of doctors to give their patients a one-size-fits-all recommendation to lower salt intake.

And this recommendation hits seniors the hardest. Fearing high blood pressure linked with heart disease linked with early death, they often go to extremes to remove salt from their diets.

The common result is the exact opposite of what they were trying to accomplish: symptoms of hyponatraemia (low blood levels of sodium). But those symptoms are often dismissed because they just happen to be conditions that everyone associates with aging: fatigue, confusion, and poor balance.

So at dinner today, if someone suggests you go easy on the salt, tell them to catch up on their JAMA reading and then get back to you.

“Fatal and Nonfatal Outcomes, Incidence of Hypertension, and Blood Pressure Changes in Relation to Urinary Sodium Excretion” Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 305, No. 17, 5/4/11, jama.ama-assn.org

“Study questions benefits of low salt diet, experts quick to dismiss” Nathan Gray, Food Navigator, 5/4/11, foodnavigator.com

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