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Saturday, 27 May 2017

Top Scientist Says All You've Been Told About Salt Is WRONG: Eating Too Little Salt Can Cause Increase Risk Of Diabetes.

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For more than 40 years, we’ve been told eating too much salt is killing us. Doctors say it’s as bad for our health as smoking or not exercising, and government guidelines limit us to just under a teaspoon a day.
We’re told not to cook with it and not to sprinkle it on our meals. The white stuff is not just addictive, goes the message — it’s deadly. Too much of it causes high blood pressure, which in turn damages our hearts. We must learn to live — joylessly, flavourlessly but healthily — without it.

Well, I’m here to tell you that all of that is wrong. As a leading cardiovascular research scientist — based at Saint Luke’s Mid-America Heart Institute, Missouri — I’ve contributed extensively to health policy and medical literature. 
I am associate editor of the British Medical Journal’s Open Heart, published in partnership with the British Cardiovascular Society, and I sit on the editorial advisory board of several other medical journals.
In my work, I’ve examined data from more than 500 medical papers and studies about salt. And this is what I’ve learned: there was never any sound scientific evidence to support this low salt idea. What’s more, as I explain in my new book, eating too little of it can cause insulin resistance, increased fat storage and may even increase the risk of diabetes — not to mention decreasing our sex drive.
Current daily guidelines limit you to 2.4g of sodium, which translates to 6g of salt (or sodium chloride) or slightly less than a teaspoonful.
If you have high blood pressure, or belong to a group considered to be at greater risk of developing it — such as being over 60 or Afro-Caribbean — doctors even advise you to cut your intake to two-thirds of a teaspoon of salt per day.
Yet salt is an essential nutrient that our bodies depend on to live. And those limits go against all our natural instincts. When people are allowed as much salt as they fancy, they tend to settle at about a teaspoon-and-a-half a day. This is true all over the world, across all cultures, climates and social backgrounds.

If you’ve been struggling to cut your intake, it may come as a relief to learn your salt cravings are normal, a biological need akin to our thirst for water.
We are essentially salty people. We cry salt, we sweat salt and the cells in our bodies are bathed in salty fluids. Without salt we’d not be able to live. And it’s not only our bodies that work this way.

A yen for salt drives the elephants of Kenya to walk into the pitch-black caves of Mount Elgon to lick sodium sulphate salt crystals off the walls. Gorillas have been known to follow elephants to eat the salt-rich droppings, while monkeys that groom one another don’t do so to eat fleas, but to enjoy their salty skin secretions.
Salt is so fundamental to life that a deficiency of it acts as a natural contraceptive in all sorts of animals, including us.
A diet low in salt reduces the sex-drive, inhibits the chances of getting pregnant and affects the birth weight of infants. Clinical studies show that low-salt diets can increase the risk of erectile dysfunction, fatigue and the age at which females become fertile.

Salt helps the body withstand accidents and other traumas. Besides excessive bleeding, we experience a loss of other fluids in states of shock — for example, from burns. As the injured areas soak up fluids to speed healing, the body needs its salt reserves to keep the blood circulating and fend off vascular collapse.
So why do almost all doctors tell us that salt is bad for us?
The orthodox medical view on salt is based on a straightforward hypothesis, which says eating higher levels of salt leads to higher levels of blood pressure — end of story.
But as with so many simplistic health theories, this is based on a fundamental misunderstanding, compounded by faulty science.
The faulty hypothesis goes like this: when we eat salt, we get thirsty, so we drink more water.
The dangerous myth that salt raises blood pressure began more than 100 years ago
The excess salt causes the body to hold on to that water to dilute the saltiness of the blood.
That water retention increases blood volume, which leads to higher blood pressure, and thus to heart disease, strokes and other serious conditions.
Although this makes sense in theory, there’s a problem: the facts don’t back it up.
Evidence in medical literature suggests approximately 80 per cent of people with normal blood pressure (that is, a reading of below 120 over 80) do not suffer any signs of raised blood pressure — none at all — when they increase their salt intake. 
Among those with prehypertension, or higher blood pressure, three quarters are not sensitive to salt. And even among those with full-blown high blood pressure, more than half — about 55 per cent — are totally immune to salt’s effects.
The dangerous myth that salt raises blood pressure began more than 100 years ago, with French scientists Ambard and Beauchard. They based their findings on studies of just six patients.

Successive researchers misinterpreted and misused their data, building on a theory that earned media attention without any solid foundation in fact.
In the early Fifties, at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, Dr Lewis Dahl was determined to make science fit his own preconceptions. 

A man of ‘strong convictions’, he was a proponent of racial theories that claimed Japanese people had high levels of hypertension while Inuit tribes did not — and that this was due to the amount of salt in their diets.
He proposed to prove this with experiments on rodents. However, as even Dr Dahl was obliged to concede, normal rats are not sensitive to salt. It does nothing to their blood pressure.

So he decided to selectively modify them through in-breeding over several generations to create what are now known as ‘Dahl salt-sensitive rats’.
That’s right: Dahl created salt-sensitive rats in a lab and then used them to prove his hypothesis that salt affected blood pressure.
Dahl popularised the notion that salt is nothing but a flavouring we add to food. He cited medical studies that, he claimed, were proof humans could survive on a quarter of the recommended levels.

But a closer look at the papers he promoted is alarming: one 1945 experiment into a low-salt diet may have killed people.
One patient placed on a restricted salt regime died soon afterwards, and another sustained circulatory collapse, due to inadequate supplies of oxygen and nutrients to the tissues — a classic symptom of salt deprivation. 
One of Dahl’s most dramatic experiments involved giving human baby food with high salt content to his special salt-sensitive rats. It killed them, which Dahl proclaimed as proof that baby food could be lethal for human infants, too.



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