How Much Salt Should We Eat
An extensive international study conducted in 17 countries and recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that the previous recommended daily salt intake, made by doctors to their patients suffering from heart disease, have been wrong.
The standard advice given by most Western doctors, and which could be found even in official papers, is that persons under their 50’s should limit their intake of salt to a maximum of 2300 milligrams of salt daily, and those over 50’s, to a maximum of 1500 milligrams per day.
The recent study, carried out by more than 400 researchers from all over the world, kept under observation 156 424 people aged between 35 and 70 years, residents of 628 towns and villages in Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, India, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, Poland, South Africa, Sweden, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Zimbabwe.
The salt level analysis of urine
In this study, researchers weighed the level of potassium and sodium from the urine of 101 945 people from 5 continents, taking samples in the morning on an empty stomach.
The samples have been analyzed and compared with the medical records and drug treatment of every person.
Researchers focused in particular on the history of cardiovascular diseases and the death of the subject, correlating the level of potassium and sodium with their health history.
The subjects have been kept under observation for an average of 3.7 years after taking the first samples. People with cancer were eliminated from the study, as well as other factors that favor the occurrence of heart disease or even death.
The researchers found that the consumption of up to 3000 milligrams of sodium per day resulted in a 27% increase in cardiovascular disease or even death.
Consumption between 3000 and 6000 milligrams of sodium per day decreased this risk, and the consumption of more than 6000 milligrams daily has increased the risk of cardiovascular affections and mortality by 15%.
Let’s not forget that we start from the joint recommendation of 1500 mg daily for those over 50 and a maximum of 2300 mg per day for those under 50.
And the conclusion of the study shows that consumption between 3000 and 6000 milligrams of sodium per day reduces the risk of heart disease and death, while a consumption below 3000 and above 6000 increases this risk.
Explicitly, the research has shown that eating more than 7000 milligrams a day increases this risk dramatically.
Where does the mistake come from? Why the medical world ignored these things before?
In their paper, the authors of the study showed that the basic principles of today’s recommendations regarding the daily sodium intake were based on short-term studies on subjects who were not representing a large population.
The study recently conducted removed these elements, allowing an accurate understanding of the proper levels of daily sodium intakes needed to stay healthy. And because the kidneys govern the balance of potassium and sodium levels in the body, urine samples are the best method for monitoring the salt consumption of a person.
And yet this is confirmed in previous studies …
Despite the acceptation that previous studies have argued the opposite, a 2011 study conducted by The Albert Einstein School of Medicine, kept under observation over 360 000 human subjects, and another study at McMaster University in Canada, observed 4729 subjects, correlating their sodium levels with their cardiovascular health.
These studies showed that sodium levels less than 2500-3000 milligrams per day have increased the occurrence of heart diseases in the subjects.
Hypertension is not connected with salt consumption
In addition to these studies, another research carried out at the University of California three years ago, showed that indeed, the previous recommendations regarding sodium levels were wrong.
This study was, in fact, a compilation of clinical trials, as well as a study from 2009, U.C-Davis, which included a total of 129 reviews on 50,060 human subjects. Sodium levels in urine were analyzed on samples taken every 24 hours.
This study compiled different studies and researches in salt intake and hypertension, along with heart diseases in general.
The consensus in the medical world is that high sodium levels in the blood, leading to hypertension, are determined by the high consumption of sodium.
Research has shown that the body’s adjustment system balances the level of sodium in the body, maintaining a healthy level. This adjustment occurs through the excretion of sodium that exceeds a healthy level.
Confirming the above studies, this compilation of studies also showed that healthy salt consumption stands between 2622 and 4840 milligrams per day.
The study concluded that the low rate of hypertension in the US, is unrelated to the low salt consumption, as some have suggested. In fact, statistics show an increase in salt consumption with the growing use of processed foods.
The appetite for salt
According to researchers, the body retains the intern levels of sodium by what they call ‘’lust for salt’’. When the body senses that this level is too low, urges naturally to consume more salty food.
The Ayurvedic medicine has described for a long time ago this notion of the body seeking saltier foods-called salty craving for balancing the system. But when the salt consumption exceeds the required level of sodium, the body will naturally adjust the internal level of sodium, through urine.
The body uses what the doctors call the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system to balance sodium levels.
Refined salt and salt balance in the body
Recent studies show that eating more than 1500 milligrams of potassium per day, significantly reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases and mortality, while consumption of below 1500 milligrams per day increases these risks.
These findings bring to the fore a broader perspective, that of balanced sodium consumption, along with other macro and oligo-minerals.
This is very important because sodium levels form the body and its impact on general health are also linked with the consumption of other essential minerals for your body, such as potassium, calcium, boron, zinc and more.
However, fine table salt does not help in balancing the consumption of minerals. Because fine table salt is stripped of other minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium and many other oligo-elements, consumption of fine salt distorts the body needs of these minerals, with a preference for sodium with exceedingly high sodium chloride, compared to what is found in natural compounds.
And to make matters worse, modern salt contains numerous chemical additives such as tricalcium phosphate, silica, sodium ferrocyanide, ferric ammonium citrate and sodium aluminate silicone.
The use of natural sea salt or rock salt is a more effective way of improving the balance of trace minerals.
The Bottom Line
How much salt should we eat? What is the recommended daily salt intake
The highest level of sodium currently recommended by specialists is 2,300 milligrams, but this study settled that the appropriate level of sodium for most people is between 2,500 and 6,000 milligrams daily.
The continuous pressure to reduce sodium in your diet can increase the stress on your adrenals and possibly cause a heart attack.
If you’re using high-quality sea salt on already delicious food, it’s doubtful you’ll go overboard.
Salt your food to taste and don’t trouble too much about it. If you’re low-carb or have adrenal or thyroid problems, increase your salt intake by drinking a large glass of water with one teaspoon of potassium salt and a 1/2-1 teaspoon of sea salt every morning, few minutes after you wake up.
Keep in mind that iodine is introduced into common salt because it is an element which is missing in ordinary food.