For nearly a century, mainstream medical “experts” have advised people who have heart disease to restrict salt intake as a means of improving survival.
But salt just isn’t the enemy it’s been made out to be. In fact, there’s ZERO historical, biological, or scientific evidence to support the mainstream’s misguided advice to restrict it. Here’s what I mean…
Humans have a long history with salt
Salt has played a critical role in human history since our earliest records. Wars were fought about it. Trade routes were opened for it. And ancient roads were built to bring it to population centers. In fact, the ancient Roman road-builders constructed the “Via Salaria”—or the “Salt Road”—through the high Apennine mountains to bring salt from the clean ocean waters of the Adriatic Sea back to Rome.
My father’s ancestors actually resided for generations on the hillsides above the ancient Salt Road—east of Rome. Then, when I was a child, Italian highway engineers built a modern, multi-lane Autostrada on the same route laid out by the ancient Romans.
Suffice it to say, for thousands of years, people did all they could to make sure they had plenty of salt on hand.
And not just for flavoring and preserving their food…
Biology shows we need some salt…and can eliminate any excess
The human body actually requires sufficient salt to maintain normal balance in blood pressure. Plus, there’s no evidence to support the claim that “too much” salt contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease…or that artificially restricting it has any health benefits!
And if for some reason you get “too much” salt (more than your body needs to maintain fluids and balance blood pressure), your body normally simply excretes it.
In fact, that’s the entire purpose of your kidneys! And just for good measure, your body has not one, but TWO kidneys. (You can even get along just fine, regulating sodium, with just about 20 percent of normal kidney function. That’s why donors can give away one kidney, for organ transplantation, and still manage just fine with the other kidney.)
The bottom line is that, in most cases, your body can handle your salt intake. (Of course, the best kind of salt to consume is sea salt, which naturally has iodine, magnesium, and other electrolytes and minerals that you need, in addition to sodium.)
On the other hand, artificially restricted, low-salt diets can lead to dehydration, muscle cramps, higher risk of heart attack, headaches, fatigue and weakness, irritability, and cognitive decline…especially among older people.
Now, let’s dig a little deeper and take a look at what modern scientific studies show us about salt intake and heart disease…
No good evidence to condemn salt
As I’ve reported before, there’s never been any good scientific evidence to suggest that restricting dietary salt lowers blood pressure or supports heart health—much less reduces mortality. On the other hand, there’s plenty of evidence linking a low salt diet with a higher risk of heart disease. (And now there’s even evidence showing that nixing salt might actually trigger Type II diabetes.)
In addition, as I learned long ago, research suggests that stress is the No. 1 hidden cause of high blood pressure and even heart disease.
In fact, in the 1970s, as a young medical student, I published my original data demonstrating the link between increased stress and high blood pressure in school children in Southeast Asia in the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH). Also at this same time in Japan, school children were first noted to start jumping out of windows due to the stress of school pressures. My research earned the American Heart Association Student Research Prize in 1979.
Interestingly, I recall Dr. Walter Willett, who was also then a young researcher, wrote a letter to the editor of AJPH asking whether we had checked the school drinking fountains to determine whether there was salt in the water!
Clearly, Walt was barking up the wrong tree when it came to the kids’ high blood pressure. But he was right about a good many other things (although not all) throughout his career. In fact, he went on to head the diet and health program at Harvard University. He also became a good colleague of mine while I worked at NIH.
New, modern generation drives bias against old ways
Despite the clear lack of convincing historical, biological, or scientific evidence, many modern doctors still cling to the anti-salt myth. And the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)—along with other government health agencies—still try to discourage people from eating salt. (The CDC should stick to their real mission to control infectious diseases, which they seem to struggle with accomplishing safely and effectively, and not meddle with “educating” Americans about chronic diseases.)
In my view, this stubborn ignorance must stem from their need to condemn the older generation’s food traditions, which involve enjoying this once-precious commodity at the dinner table…and salting foods for preservation and preparation.
Sadly, the new generation of “modern,” tech-obsessed doctors seem intent to put down these “old,” foolish ways.
I remember witnessing this arrogance and fake sense of superiority for the first time as a medical student in the mid-1970s. The old Pennsylvania Dutch (Amish) would come from outlying rural counties into the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia and describe their diet.
The young doctors would ominously shake their heads in consternation and condemnation. But when you looked at the patients’ charts, they weren’t accomplishing blood pressure control with the atrocious, bland, low-quality hospital diets they were being fed. In fact, the stress of hectoring the patients about turning their lives upside down, when they went home, was entirely counter-productive!
Of course, the Amish today, with their traditional diet and lifestyle, are actually the healthiest people in the country!
So, instead of limiting salt, look at adopting some science-backed approaches to protect your heart. Such as following a Mediterranean-type diet and reducing stress, the No. 1 hidden cause of high blood pressure.
You can also learn about the many safe, effective, natural approaches to protect your heart—without severely limiting your salt intake—in my Heart Attack Prevention and Repair Protocol. To learn more about this comprehensive online learning tool, or to enroll today, click here now!