S is for…

S is for salt Myth #1 – Salt is the direct cause of high blood pressure leading to a heart attack or stroke.The government (FDA, CDC, and AHA) currently recommends limiting salt intake to 2.3 grams per day.We’ve been told to fear salt (sodium) since the …

S is for salt

The government (FDA, CDC, and AHA) currently recommends limiting salt intake to 2.3 grams per day. We’ve been told to fear salt (sodium) since the 1960s.

Have you heard any of these?

  • Too much salt will give you a heart attack or stroke.

  • Salt will make you swell up like a pufferfish.

  • Salt is evil.

Part of the confusion is in the terminology. High blood pressure is often defined as a snapshot of blood pressure during a given time in a day at over 140/90. Hypertension is a measure of your blood pressure over time – not just one measurement during the day.

Many things can elevate your blood pressure:

  • Stress

  • Genetics

  • Diet

  • Exercise

High blood pressure does not always mean you have hypertension.

Elevated blood pressure is a more accurate term to use for describing blood pressure when looking at the snapshot reading you might get at the doctor’s office, grocery store, or even at home with a digital blood pressure cuff – which can read high. Manual BP cuffs are the most accurate.

Blood pressure is a single reading.

Hypertension is elevated blood pressure over a period of time.

Unfortunately, government websites, like the CDC, don’t define this difference accurately nor do they explain that salt is not the only component of elevated blood pressure.

For the sake of simplicity, increased salt in your diet alone will not guarantee a stroke or heart attack. Many factors are involved to contribute to that potential storm.

The vast majority of us need more salt, not less! “The evidence points to 5000 mg sodium, 4700 mg potassium, and 600 mg magnesium per day from diet and supplements”. [REF]  

The government (FDA, AHA, and CDC) recently increased sodium limitation recommendations, but those new guidelines are still low. 

“… broad-ranging, population-level research suggests that sodium intakes at the levels routinely suggested by the medical establishment may be far more dangerous than levels much higher than current recommendations.” [REF]

Eliminating this very valuable mineral from our diet actually wreaks havoc on the homeostasis our body is attempting to maintain.

Removing dietary salt does not cause a single reaction. Potassium and magnesium (among other minerals) are on the other side of the equation. When sodium is removed, potassium and magnesium adjust in an attempt to maintain a very delicate balance that keeps our bodies firing on all cylinders.

  • Do you get leg cramps? 

  • Did you clean up your diet and seem fatigued still?

  • Does your heart race seemingly out of nowhere?

  • All of these issues might have roots in your body’s electrolyte balance.

  • Overhydration will screw up this balance.

  • Do you need more water?  Maybe. Is there a formula to determine how much water you should be drinking daily? No. Everyone’s hydration and water needs are different.

What type of salt you use does make a difference. Each type of dietary salts provides different trace minerals. The list seems never-ending and this post does an excellent job of explaining the intricacies. Why reinvent the salt wheel, right?

One aspect of switching to a completely ‘fancy’ salt diet is the potential lack of iodine. Do you have thyroid problems? It may be iodine related. A quick patch test can determine if you are iodine deficient. “Not getting enough iodine in your diet can lead to problems such as an enlarged thyroid gland (goiter) and an abnormally low level of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism).” [REF]

Salt intake is very individual and there is a good chance you might need more – especially if you’ve been eliminating processed foods. (Good job on that by the way!)

My favorite way to get a good balance of electrolytes daily is LMNT. It provides the electrolytes your body needs in the amounts it needs without the garbage (sugar and preservatives) you definitely don’t need.