The Great Salt Scam finally makes the “news”

 Moderate quantities of salt won’t kill you, but too little might


Suddenly, after a century of claims that salt causes high blood pressure and heart disease, what I call the Great Salt Scam has finally been exposed.

A new book, The Salt Fix, cites more than 500 studies and research papers. The ho-hum revelation? That what we’ve been told about salt has been all wrong, all along.

This “sudden” news came as a shock to the talking-head TV docs. For a change, the revelation about salt was not “fake news.’’ But it should not have been news at all to anyone paying attention.

Some of the key points in the book will not surprise you. After all, I first revealed the Great Salt Scam to you five years ago. And I have known about it since the late 1970s.

But here is something that is surprising: The book reports that not getting enough sodium can cause a variety of serious diseases.

Lack of salt can compromise kidney and thyroid function. It can also cause weight gain and insulin resistance — both of which can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes.

And most shockingly, low salt consumption may actually create more heart disease, rather than preventing it.

Show me the research

The Salt Fix author Dr. James DiNicolantonio has access to hundreds of salt studies as associate editor of the British Medical Journal’s Open Heart, published in association with the British Cardiovascular Society. (It’s a good thing they still use English in the United Kingdom, otherwise Americans might never get the truth. Especially if they relied only on the emanations of the American Heart Association and their crony-capitalist co-conspirators and codependents in the U.S. academic-government-medical complex.)

Dr. DiNicolantonio is also a leading cardiovascular research scientist at Saint Luke Mid-America Heart Institute in Missouri — the “Show-Me” state. So here’s what the evidence shows me — and you.

The current U.S. daily guidelines limiting you to just 2,400 mg of sodium per day (and even less than that if you’re considered high risk for heart disease) are flat-out dangerous.

Koreans consume over 4 grams (that’s 4,000 mg) of sodium per day by eating tteokguk, a broth loaded with salt, and bulgogi, grilled meat marinated in soy sauce, which is also full of sodium. They also regularly eat kimchi — fermented cabbage preserved in salt. This dish gives them vitamin C and is a healthy probiotic food that supports the GI microbiome.

And yet, Koreans have some of the world’s lowest rates of high blood pressure and heart disease.

Of course, this was written off as the “Korean Paradox” (together with the French and Japanese paradoxes, plus the Roseto, Pennsylvania, paradox I discuss in my upcoming Heart Attack Prevention & Repair Protocol — see the box on page 3). These so-called paradoxes actually provide real evidence in real populations that counter the politically correct narrative.

The Korean Paradox is hardly a revelation, considering that in the 1970s and ‘80s, reports from scientists (some of whom I knew personally) showed that fisherman throughout Southeast and East Asia who had astronomical salt consumption actually had lifelong low blood pressure by Western standards.

The healthy Mediterranean Diet is not exactly low in salt either, with all of the anchovies, sardines, and other salted seafood—but it’s linked to lower rates of high blood pressure, heart disease, and strokes

The Salt Fix also cites evidence showing that about 80% of people with normal blood pressure (120/80) do not get a blood pressure spike when they increase salt intake. Why? Because the kidneys filter out any extra salt they don’t need, as they are supposed to do.

In addition, research shows that 75% of people with prehypertension, or slightly higher blood pressure, are not sensitive to extra salt. And even among those with full-blown high blood pressure, 55% are totally unaffected by increased salt intake.

Sodium and salt are essential for life

As you know, salt is an essential nutrient that our bodies depend upon every moment of every day to sustain life.

When people consume foods naturally, according to their tastes and normal thirst-regulation mechanism, we tend to settle at about a teaspoon and a half per day of salt (50% more than the current medical guideline). This biological reality has been observed for decades all over the world, among all cultures, climates, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Salt cravings are normal, akin to our thirst for water — and, of course, both water and electrolytes are vital for maintaining healthy hydration and sustaining body fluids. We sweat salt through our pores; our cells are bathed in salt water, inside and out; and we cry salt in our tears — while our bodies cry out for salt.

Nature is replete with examples. The elephants of East Africa walk into the pitch-black caves of Mount Elgon to lick salt crystals off the walls. Gorillas follow the elephants through the mist to eat their salt-rich droppings. Monkeys groom each other not only to remove insects, but also to recapture salty sweat on the skin under the fur. And farmers know to put out salt licks for livestock that don’t get enough salt from their vegetarian diets.

Salt is so essential that insufficiency acts as a natural contraceptive in animals, including human beings. A low-salt diet reduces the sex drive, lowers the probability of becoming pregnant, and limits the birth weight of infants. Low-salt diets increase the risk of erectile dysfunction, delay the age of fertility in females, and cause fatigue (“sorry, honey, I’m just too tired tonight”).

Salt also helps protect the body from traumatic injury. We lose salty fluids as the result of bleeding or burns, because the injured areas draw these fluids to them to support healing. But if you don’t have enough salt in your body, fluids are limited and can contribute to circulatory collapse (shock).

That’s why as soon as emergency care is available, the first step is to provide intravenous water with salt. But before you get to medical treatment, just drinking water alone may not be enough if you have insufficient salt in your tissues.

Medical myth born from faulty physiology “facts”

Despite all of this basic physiology, the medical myth about salt intake was based on the simplistic idea that salt helps retain body fluids. This is normally a good thing. But too much water retention can lead to higher blood pressure, and thus to heart disease. So the theory was the more salt you ingest, the more fluid you retain, and the higher your risk of heart disease.

This may make a modicum of sense on the surface, but the facts never backed up it up.

According to The Salt Fix, the myth began over 100 years ago, when a pair of French scientists studied only six patients. Then, in the early 1950s at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, scientists prejudiced toward the salt myth intentionally modified lab animals (which were naturally impervious to increased salt intake) to make their experiments fit the myth. They continued artificially breeding lab rats until they found a mutant breed that finally actually responded to higher salt intake!

Early human experiments did not fare well. One patient died after being placed on a severely salt-restricted diet, and another suffered circulatory collapse due to inadequate supplies of oxygen and nutrients, which is indicative of salt deprivation.

Maybe modern doctors succumb to the salt myth because they don’t teach physiology anymore in medical school. In fact, at Georgetown University, where I serve as adjunct professor, the physiology department was abolished and merged into the pharmacology department — so they can teach more about drugs and forget about normal human physiology.

Stop the presses

Sadly, because The Salt Fix is published by a small British press, it’s mainly only “news” in England.

As I learned long ago, if a book has the typical Madison Avenue trade-book publishing hype, the press release would end up on the desks of the producers for American TV news shows. They would then book the author at no cost. In return, the author would get free publicity, and the media could charge a fortune for ad time (usually hawking a new, expensive, dangerous prescription drug).

Recently, I saw one of the grinning idiot TV docs (who should not be allowed outside a surgical operating room) contentedly advise viewers not to worry about salt so much, but he did advise against high-salt Korean food. As you read above, Korean food is one of the sources of real human evidence against the salt myth. Maybe this doc got a copy of the British press release, but not the book. Another media “expert.”

Hopefully soon, everyone on this side of the pond will finally be treated to this “news” about the great salt scam. But it won’t be because of a new study or research review. Or because a bunch of government political-science bureaucrats finally woke up to the facts that have been under their noses for decades. And it won’t even be because some self-styled public interest group has finally actually spoken out in the public interest.

No, if this old news does finally see the light of day here in the U.S., it will be because somebody’s come along and published a new book.

And that, ladies and gentleman, is how the news usually works, at least when it comes to health and medical information.

Stop the presses! And stop starving yourself of salt.