Scientific American: It's Time to End the War on Salt

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    Jul 24, 2011 3:31 PM GMT
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=its-time-to-end-the-war-on-salt

    For decades, policy makers have tried and failed to get Americans to eat less salt. In April 2010 the Institute of Medicine urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate the amount of salt that food manufacturers put into products; New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has already convinced 16 companies to do so voluntarily. But if the U.S. does conquer salt, what will we gain? Bland french fries, for sure. But a healthy nation? Not necessarily.

    This week a meta-analysis of seven studies involving a total of 6,250 subjects in the American Journal of Hypertension found no strong evidence that cutting salt intake reduces the risk for heart attacks, strokes or death in people with normal or high blood pressure. In May European researchers publishing in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that the less sodium that study subjects excreted in their urine—an excellent measure of prior consumption—the greater their risk was of dying from heart disease. These findings call into question the common wisdom that excess salt is bad for you, but the evidence linking salt to heart disease has always been tenuous.

    Fears over salt first surfaced more than a century ago. In 1904 French doctors reported that six of their subjects who had high blood pressure—a known risk factor for heart disease—were salt fiends. Worries escalated in the 1970s when Brookhaven National Laboratory's Lewis Dahl claimed that he had "unequivocal" evidence that salt causes hypertension: he induced high blood pressure in rats by feeding them the human equivalent of 500 grams of sodium a day. (Today the average American consumes 3.4 grams of sodium, or 8.5 grams of salt, a day.)

    Dahl also discovered population trends that continue to be cited as strong evidence of a link between salt intake and high blood pressure. People living in countries with a high salt consumption—such as Japan—also tend to have high blood pressure and more strokes. But as a paper pointed out several years later in the American Journal of Hypertension, scientists had little luck finding such associations when they compared sodium intakes within populations, which suggested that genetics or other cultural factors might be the culprit. Nevertheless, in 1977 the U.S. Senate’s Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs released a report recommending that Americans cut their salt intake by 50 to 85 percent, based largely on Dahl's work.

    Scientific tools have become much more precise since then, but the correlation between salt intake and poor health has remained tenuous. Intersalt, a large study published in 1988, compared sodium intake with blood pressure in subjects from 52 international research centers and found no relationship between sodium intake and the prevalence of hypertension. In fact, the population that ate the most salt, about 14 grams a day, had a lower median blood pressure than the population that ate the least, about 7.2 grams a day. In 2004 the Cochrane Collaboration, an international, independent, not-for-profit health care research organization funded in part by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, published a review of 11 salt-reduction trials. Over the long-term, low-salt diets, compared to normal diets, decreased systolic blood pressure (the top number in the blood pressure ratio) in healthy people by 1.1 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by 0.6 mmHg. That is like going from 120/80 to 119/79. The review concluded that "intensive interventions, unsuited to primary care or population prevention programs, provide only minimal reductions in blood pressure during long-term trials." A 2003 Cochrane review of 57 shorter-term trials similarly concluded that "there is little evidence for long-term benefit from reducing salt intake."

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    Jul 24, 2011 6:27 PM GMT
    To be honest, Ive just discussed heart attacks due to atherosclerosis in class, and we made no mention of salt intake.... it was all about blood pressure, FAT and cholesterol intake.... Ill check if I see it pop up later, but as far as Ive learned, blood pressure in the body due to sodium is regulated perfectly effectively by the kidneys, so your intake would not really make a difference, it would simply show up as excess salt in your urine...
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    Jul 24, 2011 7:02 PM GMT
    Whatever. Too much salt in my food still gives me the shits.
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    Jul 24, 2011 11:09 PM GMT
    I don't need no salt in my food, I intake enough from just surfing.

    Salted fish eaten in east Asia (Japan, south China) is also linked with nasal cancer.
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    Jul 24, 2011 11:16 PM GMT
    Here's my 2 cents on the matter as a nephrologist.
    http://www.realjock.com/gayforums/1673307
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    Jul 24, 2011 11:26 PM GMT
    q1w2e3 saidHere's my 2 cents on the matter as a nephrologist.
    http://www.realjock.com/gayforums/1673307


    Thats certainly interesting, but how about the question as to whether salt intake is linked to hypertension.. and ultimately to heart disease?? whats your take on this?
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    Jul 24, 2011 11:30 PM GMT
    It does, if you're salt sensitive (e.g. African-American and obese patients). I, for example, can eat plenty of salt with no change in my blood pressure.
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    Jul 24, 2011 11:32 PM GMT
    q1w2e3 saidIt does, if you're salt sensitive (e.g. African-American and obese patients). I, for example, can eat plenty of salt with no change in my blood pressure.


    a ok, so its only a portion of the population then.... that does however agree with the OP's post, namely that the entire population should NOT be targeted by the "war on salt" ... it should be restricted to sensitive individuals...
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    Jul 24, 2011 11:35 PM GMT
    The goal is to define who belongs to the salt-sensitive population (beside race), how big it is, and from there, how aggressive population-wide measures need to be taken.
    In the meantime, it's still prudent to have a no-added salt diet, since there is already so much sodium pre-mixed with food. I haven't touched the salt container for years.
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    Jul 24, 2011 11:36 PM GMT
    q1w2e3 saidThe goal is to define who belongs to the salt-sensitive population (beside race), how big it is, and from there, how aggressive population-wide measures need to be taken.
    In the meantime, it's still prudent to have a no-added salt diet, since there is already so much sodium pre-mixed with food. I haven't touched the salt container for years.


    There is? I wouldnt know, I generally avoid processed foods really... tend to cook mostly from scratch, so I need salt!!
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    Jul 24, 2011 11:43 PM GMT
    Nobody said
    q1w2e3 saidThe goal is to define who belongs to the salt-sensitive population (beside race), how big it is, and from there, how aggressive population-wide measures need to be taken.
    In the meantime, it's still prudent to have a no-added salt diet, since there is already so much sodium pre-mixed with food. I haven't touched the salt container for years.


    There is? I wouldnt know, I generally avoid processed foods really... tend to cook mostly from scratch, so I need salt!!


    Of course, you don't live in the States. You can't avoid the stuff here. icon_lol.gif
    I cook mostly from scratch too.

    Remember, it's not just salt. Sodium is fairly widely distributed naturally. Cereal, milk, salad dressing, seafood, etc.
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    Jul 25, 2011 12:21 AM GMT
    This was funny. This came out shortly after Nanny Bloomberg proposed banning salt in restaurants.

    I wish these white Liberal pricks would mind their own damn business.
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    Jul 25, 2011 1:54 AM GMT
    yourname2000 saidI've been tracking my food intake at nutritiondata.com and I've been blown away that cooking most things from scratch and not adding any salt at all, I still come very close to the recommended daily sodium intake (and the only thing I'm eating with added salt is canned fish.)

    I had thought that one of the reasons for hypertension was due to salt causing you to retain water, thereby causing your heart to work harder as it pumps more liquid than normal around. Is this proven to not be true?

    I mean, considering how much salt we must have each intaken before refrigeration (through salted meat and fish), I would have thought previous periods of human history would have had more evidence of issues with sodium.

    I loves me some salt. But I've been trying to be 'good' and not add any. It would be nice to know if "don't worry" is now conclusive, lol.


    Salt causes hypertension in the kind of person who develops hypertension.

    Back in the day, people didn't live long enough to die of stuff. They just died.
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    Jul 25, 2011 2:17 AM GMT
    yourname2000 said

    I had thought that one of the reasons for hypertension was due to salt causing you to retain water, thereby causing your heart to work harder as it pumps more liquid than normal around. Is this proven to not be true?
    .


    in most ppl, the kidneys act as your body's "filter", adequately getting rid of the excess sodium in your blood y controlling the amount concentrated into the urine. So how much salt you eat should not usually cause hypertension... unless someone has a certain disposition or kidney malfunction not to get rid of the right amount of sodium....

    Example.. I eat salt with everything, but my blood pressure is perfectly normal.... my mother eats very little salt, but her blood pressure is still high