4

votes

Has salt been equally as unjustly demonized as animal fat?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 10, 2011 at 12:52 PM

I seem to be always hearing that many paleo-folks are becoming iodine deficient due to salt avoidance. Is this just another case of "everybody knows" salt is bad for you? A new Scientific American article suggests the War on Salt is baseless (like most wars). What's your salt intake like? Do you consciously avoid salting food?

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=its-time-to-end-the-war-on-salt

2d5221fa80d04a3d8ac6f471f9feae81

(894)

on July 12, 2011
at 01:10 AM

Its importance depends on by how much you're overshooting your potassium and other electrolytes. The sodium:potassiun ratio found in natural foods is about 1:15-1:10 if I recall correctly. And I think that's what Cordain recommends. Regardless, potassium should definitely outnumber sodium by several fold. And chloride is a weird thing because the ion channels in the human body are really poorly understood. Nobody tracked them in a person that doesn't consume salt. I think there's a pdf ~Salt and Insomnia~ on Cordain's Paleo website. Nothing conclusive but an interesting read, if nothing else.

345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on July 11, 2011
at 11:45 AM

exactly! While sea salt is good for those who don't need the salt, it wasn't doing anything for me to help with hydration or dizziness....in my case, it helps

F52b51135f2c47eb46c986fdc9760b9b

(180)

on July 11, 2011
at 08:53 AM

I think that's an important distinction you're making, because from what I understand the paleo perspective on salt is that if you're eating right you get enough sodium just leaving your food as it is, so no extra salt is neccesary. But is there any proof that getting extra sodium in the form of salt is bad for you? Maybe it doesn't matter if you get more than you need.

2d5221fa80d04a3d8ac6f471f9feae81

(894)

on July 11, 2011
at 02:24 AM

All salt is mostly sodium chloride. We need sodium, not chloride is what my point was about. People tend to equate the SODIUM(Na) and SALT(NaCl).

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on July 11, 2011
at 12:24 AM

Why regular as opposed to sea salt? Is it because of the iodine?

Bcad307b240275ae3f5820ba6eb4a712

(923)

on July 10, 2011
at 09:38 PM

Not sure what you're getting at. Table salt is sodium chloride.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 10, 2011
at 07:38 PM

sea foods are THE biggest source of iodine. nothing else - not eggs, strawberries, etc - has quantities that willmeet what we need.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 10, 2011
at 06:38 PM

though Weil is far from a truly reliable source this may interest you regarding the iodine tip: http://www.drweilblog.com/home/2011/7/9/worried-about-iodine-deficiency.html

9846ee79687cfcdb8f67da838f295e0c

(209)

on July 10, 2011
at 05:14 PM

I never really thought about seafood, good one!

51c2cdd55bf287026db68cf31a6d0a0b

on July 10, 2011
at 02:45 PM

Hi Heather, I didn't say anything about the NHS judging it fairly, I simply posted their response. It's healthy to have all sides of all arguments. What the reader decides to do with the information is up to them. Just to clarify, your FDA is not entirely like our NHS. They don't always just promote conventional wisdom, they open up a lot of debate too. They also run all our medical services too. That is why is used 'wonderful' to describe them as while I may not always agree with them, they do a lot of great work. Sorry if that cause confusion. :) Paul.

51c2cdd55bf287026db68cf31a6d0a0b

on July 10, 2011
at 02:35 PM

I didn't say anything about it being fair, I simply posted their response. I was only posting their response so people could hear what they have to say - it's healthy to have all sides of all arguments. What the reader decides to do with the information is up to them.

34a367e60db77270bd7096dc04270fdc

(4171)

on July 10, 2011
at 02:06 PM

Your NHS is the same as our FDA and they only promote conventional wisdom so I don't know why you would think they would judge that fairly.

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13 Answers

7
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on July 10, 2011
at 03:52 PM

It wouldn't surprise me if the "experts" do a complete 180 degree turn regarding saturated fat, salt, and sun as it relates to health. 100 years ago these were all considered healthy and essential.

Saturated fats were consumed without guilt, cooking fats were lard and butter, spending time in the sun was considered a way to heal everything from wounds to tuberculosis and mental illness, and salt tablets were given to athletes.

Then all of a sudden, saturated fats became bad and were replaced with all kinds of terrible substitutes, we were advised to stay out of the sun and slather ourselves with sunscreen when we are forced to spend any time in it, and were also told to avoid salt.

The result was the worst multi-decade public health epidemic in the history of mankind. The lack of saturated fat, salt and vitamin D has been linked to numerous "diseases of civilization".

I think that salt, like actual granular salt that you can hold in your hand and put on your food, is perfectly fine, and your sense of taste will let you know if you have too little or too much. For example I crave more salt in the summer when I am sweating a lot more. Salt activates the enzymes in your mouth that begin the digestive process and helps you to eat and digest your food.

It's the "sodium" that is snuck into processed foods which is bad for you, because this is salt that you consume that sneaks past your sense of taste. For example canned green beans don't taste salty, but one serving of them can have as much as 1/4 teaspoon of salt which is probably way more than you'd otherwise sprinkle on an entire plate of food. If you eat a lot of processed foods you're probably eating teaspoons of unnecessary sodium every day.

I doubt that studies about this differentiate between sprinkled salt and sodium, just like most studies that investigate fat don't differentiate between good and bad fats, rendering the results misleading and useless.

2
7c068e0afd33ae34618499578444a5e1

on July 10, 2011
at 02:07 PM

That is very interesting since not avoiding salt was one of my hidden "faults". My body just asks for it.

2
345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on July 10, 2011
at 01:35 PM

I actually salt all my food with regular salt these days (use to be 100% sea salt), mostly because I have low BP and with constant GI issues I'm always dehydrated.

I actually learned here from these great folks that regular salt would be of benefit to me and they were right! Much less dizzy spells now and the salt helps me stay dehydrated easier.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on July 11, 2011
at 12:24 AM

Why regular as opposed to sea salt? Is it because of the iodine?

345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on July 11, 2011
at 11:45 AM

exactly! While sea salt is good for those who don't need the salt, it wasn't doing anything for me to help with hydration or dizziness....in my case, it helps

1
510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20898)

on July 11, 2011
at 03:10 PM

My view on this as a chemist is that the whole sodium retention/high blood pressure thing is just a simple kinetics problem (but I'll leave the equations out of this post). I'll start with the simple answer: If you're not metabolically deranged and eating a low carb diet, then you are free to eat as much sodium as you wish, your kidneys will get rid of the excess salt; however, if you are metabolically deranged and eating a high carb diet, then your kidneys will hoard ANY sodium they see so you can eat a near-0 sodium diet and still retain enough to raise your blood pressure.

Without going into all the signalling details (Robb Wolf has done that, look for his kidney posts - there are two of them as of this writing), the basics are that a high carb diet tells your kidneys to hold onto sodium. The increase in ionic strength of the sodium laced blood causes water retention which increases blood volume which increases blood pressure. That's the mechanism. The observable is that high sodium leads to high blood pressure. BUT here's the problem, since your kidneys will hoard ALL the sodium they see, you can eat a near-0 sodium diet and they'll still hoard it which will still result in high blood pressure. Likewise, if your kidneys are getting the proper signalling (read, low carb diet), then they will flush out any excess sodium in the diet, so you can eat as much as you want (within reason, of course, but it's a wide range of reasonable) and you'll pee out the excess sodium so you never get the high blood pressure.

So the actual observable should have been high carb leads to sodium retention leads to high blood pressure. It's just that that first step doesn't make it into the literature and people see sodium retention leads to high blood pressure, and naturally they say "reduce sodium to reduce blood pressure" then that doesn't work and they prescribe blood pressure meds.

1
535fafe8afe6923870905c707c4f4454

on July 11, 2011
at 03:56 AM

May I ask how our ancestors would have consumed salt similar to us sprinkling it on every meal? Maybe I am missing something obvious but if they survived without a salt shaker shouldn't that be close to optimal by our paleo beliefs (and lack of conclusive science)?

Edit: Nevermind: http://paleohacks.com/questions/50693/how-much-salt-did-our-paleolithic-ancestors-eat#axzz1RlXFsoxo

1
2d5221fa80d04a3d8ac6f471f9feae81

(894)

on July 10, 2011
at 07:41 PM

Lots of confusion of SALT and SODIUM here. We need the latter, not the former. I don't think it's been demonized that much because WAPFers eat it by the pound and so do most people in developed and developing nations. Even most paleo folk seem to use it. If you are getting enough sodium in your diet, then there is zero benefit from salt, only detriment. But if your sodium is lacking, then a little salt is better than none.

2d5221fa80d04a3d8ac6f471f9feae81

(894)

on July 11, 2011
at 02:24 AM

All salt is mostly sodium chloride. We need sodium, not chloride is what my point was about. People tend to equate the SODIUM(Na) and SALT(NaCl).

F52b51135f2c47eb46c986fdc9760b9b

(180)

on July 11, 2011
at 08:53 AM

I think that's an important distinction you're making, because from what I understand the paleo perspective on salt is that if you're eating right you get enough sodium just leaving your food as it is, so no extra salt is neccesary. But is there any proof that getting extra sodium in the form of salt is bad for you? Maybe it doesn't matter if you get more than you need.

Bcad307b240275ae3f5820ba6eb4a712

(923)

on July 10, 2011
at 09:38 PM

Not sure what you're getting at. Table salt is sodium chloride.

2d5221fa80d04a3d8ac6f471f9feae81

(894)

on July 12, 2011
at 01:10 AM

Its importance depends on by how much you're overshooting your potassium and other electrolytes. The sodium:potassiun ratio found in natural foods is about 1:15-1:10 if I recall correctly. And I think that's what Cordain recommends. Regardless, potassium should definitely outnumber sodium by several fold. And chloride is a weird thing because the ion channels in the human body are really poorly understood. Nobody tracked them in a person that doesn't consume salt. I think there's a pdf ~Salt and Insomnia~ on Cordain's Paleo website. Nothing conclusive but an interesting read, if nothing else.

1
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on July 10, 2011
at 04:37 PM

Your question mentioned iodine deficiency, and salt isn't high in iodine UNLESS you're buying iodized salt. I buy a natural salt plus I use powdered kelp for iodine. Eggs and strawberries are also good sources, I think.

1
66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on July 10, 2011
at 04:33 PM

The human body is one big electrical circuit and needs salt to functions properly. Can one consume too much salt- of course but cutting it out completely can lead to bad things - the electrical paths ways in the body can begin to not function. Muscle cramps (I used to get these bad), head aches, nausea, mood swings and if it is severe, it can damage your internal organs, arteries and veins. Sodium has an important role in maintaining the water balance within cells and in the function of both nerve impulses and muscles.

Eliminating processed foods allows one to control the salt content in their diet. I used to have terrible leg cramps, I increased mu sea salt intake along with magnesium and they went away and have not returned.

Salt is a vital substance for the survival of all living creatures, particularly humans. Water and salt regulate the water content of the body. Water itself regulates the water content of the interior of the cell by working its way into all of the cells it reaches. It has to get there to cleanse and extract the toxic wastes of cell metabolisms. Salt forces some water to stay outside the cells. It balances the amount of water that stays outside the cells. There are two oceans of water in the body; one ocean is held inside the cells of the body, and the other ocean is held outside the cells. Good health depends on a most delicate balance between the volume of these oceans, and this balance is achieved by salt - unrefined salt.

1
667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 10, 2011
at 12:59 PM

I salt all my food, except for sweet potaoes (just cuz they're really good plain).

I do NOT however use iodized salt.

I do agree with your hearing that iodine-deficiency could be an issue for paleo folk. The solution is nothing to do with one's salt intake, though. Eat some sea vegetables with regularity and you'll get plenty of iodine. Kelp, dulse, nori, etc.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 10, 2011
at 07:38 PM

sea foods are THE biggest source of iodine. nothing else - not eggs, strawberries, etc - has quantities that willmeet what we need.

9846ee79687cfcdb8f67da838f295e0c

(209)

on July 10, 2011
at 05:14 PM

I never really thought about seafood, good one!

0
7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on July 11, 2011
at 01:09 AM

I think it has, lots of people will proclaim that they never, ever use salt when they cook as if that's a good thing, just like they'll say they never eat butter or red meat. It's too bad because one really important skill in cooking is knowing how to salt correctly; salt is often a key ingredient in bringing out other flavours. If you're not eating tons of high sodium packaged stuff I can't imagine there's a problem with the normal amounts of salt used in cooking. For my part I never make an effort to avoid it.

0
B14dc4aa1ddefbec3bc09550428ee493

on July 10, 2011
at 02:10 PM

I don't make any attempt to avoid it, but I'm sure I am probably getting less just because fast foods and processed foods are so full of it and I'm eating less of those.

0
51c2cdd55bf287026db68cf31a6d0a0b

on July 10, 2011
at 01:25 PM

Hi,

I use salt some way in all my cooking and as I don't used pre-processed foods I know exactly how much I am having. Of course salt is needed by the body but as with all things, too much can be a bad thing.

A newspaper here in the UK carried a story about Salt being 'good' for you and here is the response from our wonderful NHS. As you can see, it's still not conclusive.

http://www.nhs.uk/news/2011/07July/Pages/heart-risk-salt-reduction-cochrane-review.aspx

And for those also interested, here is the original article from the paper:

http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/257048/Now-salt-is-safe-to-eat

51c2cdd55bf287026db68cf31a6d0a0b

on July 10, 2011
at 02:35 PM

I didn't say anything about it being fair, I simply posted their response. I was only posting their response so people could hear what they have to say - it's healthy to have all sides of all arguments. What the reader decides to do with the information is up to them.

51c2cdd55bf287026db68cf31a6d0a0b

on July 10, 2011
at 02:45 PM

Hi Heather, I didn't say anything about the NHS judging it fairly, I simply posted their response. It's healthy to have all sides of all arguments. What the reader decides to do with the information is up to them. Just to clarify, your FDA is not entirely like our NHS. They don't always just promote conventional wisdom, they open up a lot of debate too. They also run all our medical services too. That is why is used 'wonderful' to describe them as while I may not always agree with them, they do a lot of great work. Sorry if that cause confusion. :) Paul.

34a367e60db77270bd7096dc04270fdc

(4171)

on July 10, 2011
at 02:06 PM

Your NHS is the same as our FDA and they only promote conventional wisdom so I don't know why you would think they would judge that fairly.

0
E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 10, 2011
at 01:02 PM

Salt is very important especially if your athletic. Most of the reasons to avoid salt are based on faulty science and as far as I know no clinical trials have proven that low salt intake is better.

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