For decades, many health professionals have warned that it's important to avoid consuming too much sodium. High-sodium diets were said to cause high blood pressure and heart disease.
However, when it comes to sodium restriction, recent research indicates there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. If you don't achieve a healthy balance you could be putting yourself at risk for strokes. In addition, a low sodium intake has now been associated with higher mortality rates in heart disease patients.
What does the research say?
Here is an excellent summary of the research from the Chris Kresser Health Blog:
"Low salt diets contribute to an increase in hormones and lipids in the blood. A 2012 study in the American Journal of Hypertension found that people on low-salt diets developed higher plasma levels of renin, cholesterol, and triglycerides. (5) The authors concluded that the slight reduction in blood pressure was overshadowed by these antagonistic effects, and that sodium restriction may have net negative effects at a population level.
In addition, low sodium intake is associated with poor outcomes in Type 2 diabetes. A 2011 study study showed people with Type 2 diabetes are more likely to die prematurely on a low-salt diet, due to higher all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. (6) Additionally, a 2010 Harvard study linked low-salt diets to an immediate onset of insulin resistance, a precursor to Type 2 Diabetes. (7) These studies call into question the appropriateness of guidelines advocating salt restriction for patients with Type 2 diabetes."
Low salt diets are particularly dangerous for athletes.
If you're one of the many athletes and health-conscious individuals who keeps up with our blog at ManSalt then you might be particularly interested to know how dangerous low-salt diets can be for guys like you. From Chris Kresser again:
"Recent studies have shown that endurance athletes commonly develop low blood sodium, or hyponatremia, even in the absence of cognitive symptoms. In the 2002 Boston Marathon, it was found that 13% of 488 runners studied had hyponatremia, and studies of other endurance events have reported the incidence of hyponatremia to be up to 29%. (9, 10, 11, 12) While the majority of these sodium deficient athletes are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic with nausea and lethargy, severe manifestations such as cerebral edema, noncardiogenic pulmonary edema, and death can occur. (13) It is extremely important that athletes engaging in high intensity or long duration exercise be sure they adequately replace the salt lost through sweat."
Of course, this doesn't mean you should start pouring the contents of your salt shaker down upon your next meal just yet.
Regardless of this research, most Americans still get too much salt in their diets.
Salt is everywhere, especially if you eat a lot of processed food. If you haven't yet stepped up your game to avoid pre-made meals, fast food, and even restaurant food then there is a good chance that a "low-salt diet" just isn't your problem.
NPR reports the average American eats 3,400 milligrams of salt a day...and it's probably the wrong kind of salt.
What kind of salt should you be reaching for?
What you're looking for is iodized salt, since most people do have an iodine deficiency. Most of the salt we encounter in our day-to-day eating is not iodized...even though most people believe that it is. LifeExtension.comnotes 74% of adults do not get this vital nutrient in their diets. Iodine deficiency can cause a host of problems, especially with your thyroid.
Of course, you're not going to be able to guarantee iodized salt by eating out, and you're certainly not going to find it by eating TV dinners 5 nights out of 7. Instead, purchase iodized salt from the store and use it to lightly season meat, vegetables, or fish. When you control what you put in your body you get better results.
What kind of salt intake should you be aiming for?
The American Heart Association recommends you eat no more than 1500 mg of salt every day. These findings indicate the number may be a little too low. However, it's important to know that the American Heart Association does disagree with the findings.
What's safest? Your best bet is probably moderation--perhaps 1500 to 2000 mg of iodized salt each day. You can accomplish this by using salt to lightly season fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats. If you must go out to eat then don't add extra salt while you're there...there's probably more salt in whatever you just ordered than you think there is. You should also avoid soda, which is a big culprit when it comes to delivering worthless salts.
But remember, sodium is also a vital nutrient. Our bodies need it. Just take a look at what happens when your body becomes completely desalinized.
Of course, ManSalt does not help with your salt consumption one way or another.
ManSalt is not meant to be eaten. It's meant to give you a lovely salty soak, and while that soak may raise your magnesium levels it's not going to do much for your sodium or iodine levels.
However, we do strive to be a resource for you when it comes to managing your health and staying fit. And who better to dive into debates on all things salty?
Of course, the bottom line isn't too surprising...don't go overboard when it comes to eating it, and don't go overboard when it comes to avoiding it!