The FDA is again making news for vilifying salt. Here are two of the FDA’s claims:
“Too much sodium can raise blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.” – source
Also from the FDA: “Reducing sodium intake has the potential to prevent hundreds of thousands of premature deaths and illnesses in the coming years.“
The relationship of salt intake and heart disease is complex and multifaceted. However, there is a more direct relationship with heart disease and it has to do with sugar, not salt, I’ll explain why and how:
Insulin Resistance: Blood Pressure and Heart Disease
For good health, Insulin sensitivity is paramount. When you’re insulin resistant, your body starts to run in to serious (but reversible) problems. Prolonged over-consumption of carbohydrates (which just turn to sugar in your body) is the main cause of insulin resistance.
“Low-salt (LS) diet activates the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone and sympathetic nervous systems, both of which can increase insulin resistance (IR)” – source
How does insulin resistance lead to heart disease?
“Insulin resistance contributes to generate CVD via two independent pathways: (1) atheroma plaque formation and (2) ventricular hypertrophy and diastolic abnormality. Both effects lead to heart failure.” – source
“…insulin resistance is not simply a problem of deficient glucose uptake in response to insulin, but a multifaceted syndrome that increases significantly the risk for cardiovascular disease. The links between insulin resistance and the associated dyslipidemia, hypertension, hypercoagulability, and atherosclerosis are numerous and complex.” – source
A major driver of heart disease and high blood pressure (including unwanted sodium retention) is insulin resistance. Remember: you become insulin resistant by over-eating carbohydrates (sugars). You don’t become insulin resistant by consuming a balanced electrolyte blend (including sodium). In fact, your body requires the right amount of sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium to properly function.
Is there such thing as too much salt?
It’s possible to consume too much salt when you’re not getting the right balance of overall essential electrolytes.
You need to balance potassium, calcium, and magnesium when salt intake is high, this leads to better health and longevity. It’s not just a good idea to get balanced electrolytes, your body actually NEEDS it to survive.
If you are overweight and consuming more carbs than your body is utilizing, too much added salt may significantly hurt you.
What’s Interesting About the Keto Diet & Sodium Intake
Keto is a natural diuretic (diuretic: causing increased passing of urine). This means that those who are on a low carb diet, are by nature, reducing electrolyte balance (in particular: sodium). This is why it’s ULTRA IMPORTANT for those on a Ketogenic Diet to increase their sodium intake (not decrease).
And not just increasing sodium is enough. Remember: the balance of essential electrolytes is key in managing sodium intake. Potassium, Magnesium, and Calcium play important roles in managing sodium levels.
On the Keto Diet, you’re reducing carbohydrate intake which will help you reverse insulin resistance and promote insulin sensitivity. Your ability to regulate blood pressure improves and your electrolyte needs increase.
The FDA’s Recommendation SHOULD BE:
- Over consumption of carbohydrates leads to metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance.
- If you’re overweight and are still over consuming carbs, reduce added salt from packaged foods.
- Increase consumption of essential electrolytes via supplementation, or where circumstances allow, through whole food sources.
- Blood pressure and heart disease risks are improved when pre-packaged foods with added sugars are eliminated from your diet.
The FDA is again making news for vilifying salt. The relationship of salt intake and heart disease is complex and multifaceted. However, there is a more direct relationship with heart disease and it has to do with sugar, not salt.
Prolonged over-consumption of carbohydrates (which just turn to sugar in your body) is the main cause of insulin resistance. A low-salt (LS) diet activates the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone and sympathetic nervous systems, both of which can also increase insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance contributes to generate CVD (cardiovascular disease).
The advice and focus from the FDA should be: reduce over consumption of carbohydrates and added sugars, if you’re overweight and refuse to reduce over consumption of carbs THEN reduce salt intake, increase balanced essential electrolytes consumption, and improve blood pressure and heart disease risk by reducing consumption of pre-packaged foods with added sugars.