For 40 years now, big government has been promoting dietary guidelines that were all wrong, all along.
They said to avoid dietary cholesterol, saturated fats, and salt. But that meant avoiding highly nutritious foods like butter, dairy, eggs, meat, and many kinds of seafood.
Manufacturers substituted sugar and carbs in foods instead. So then we witnessed skyrocketing rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other serious health problems—in addition to epidemic levels of vitamin B, D, and mineral deficiencies in the general population.
The science has finally been catching up with many “experts” when it comes to cholesterol and fats. It is also finally being recognized that sugar and carbs are responsible for most of our modern chronic diseases.
But somehow, these “experts” still have a ridiculous—and harmful—fixation with lowering everyone’s salt (sodium) intake.
And now, the FDA has jumped on the salt-restriction bandwagon, long after it left the station and should have gone over the cliff.
The Great Salt Scam continues—for no good reason
As I’ve reported before, organizations like the American Heart Association are still sticking to their outdated, discredited dietary guidelines for sodium.
And now the FDA has joined them, issuing new guidelines against salt consumption. The agency says the 3,400 mg of salt Americans ingest on average every day is way too much. Instead, it recommends that people reduce salt consumption to 3,000 mg per day within two years. Then, lower it to 2,300 mg per day over the next decade.1
Supposedly, this will fight America’s heart disease epidemic. But, as I have often noted, there has never been any good evidence that decreasing salt intake lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease.
In fact, one study looked at data from 101,945 participants and found that men and women who consumed 3,000 to 6,000 mg of sodium per day had the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease and death.2
Meanwhile, the people who ate less than 3,000 mg of salt per day actually had a 25% increased risk of cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality. Other large studies have reported similar results. And yet “experts” long ago decided to advise against salt intake—what I call the “Great Salt Scam.”
Here’s why the FDA is wrong about salt
While the FDA wants people to drastically reduce their salt intake, it doesn’t actually say how we should do this. Which is particularly negligent considering that sodium is in every food we eat.
Not to mention that sodium is present in the cells and tissues of every living thing (for good reason, as I will explain shortly). In fact, scientists believe the level of salt in our blood and tissues is the same as the salinity of seawater when animal life first emerged from the oceans onto the earth 300 million years ago.
That’s why it’s hardly surprising that scientific evidence shows that people crave salt for a reason. In fact, there is a natural appetite for salt throughout the animal kingdom. You don’t have to tell herbivores, or plant eaters, they need more salt than they can typically get from plants alone. That’s why farmers and ranchers have “salt licks” available for cows and horses in their meadows.
Knowledgeable healthcare practitioners worry that unnatural salt restrictions will force people to eat more food in order to get enough of the sodium their bodies need. And that, of course, would contribute to obesity…and, ironically, to the heart disease the salt restrictions are supposed to reduce.
So basically, this move by the FDA may be attempting to reverse hundreds of millions of years of biological reality. And it may just be opening the door to more government control over every aspect of human behavior.
Why do you need salt?
Sodium is an essential electrolyte in every tissue of the body—and it’s an essential part of staying adequately hydrated. Experts now recognize that both fluid and electrolytes (like sodium) are needed for hydration. So they got that half of that equation right—but are still missing the other half.
The critical missing link is that cells must make their own water, no matter how well hydrated you think you are from chugging the recommended 8 or more glasses of water a day.
Compounds called mitochondria make water and energy in every cell. But in order to do their job, the mitochondria need micronutrients like Co-Q10 for nourishment, and plant constituents such as aspal (rooibos, or red bush) for energy. What they don’t need is drugs like statins—which actually poison the mitochondria. (That’s why knowledgeable doctors recommend taking Co-Q10 daily if you are still taking a statin drug).
So while cells make their own water (when properly nourished and energized), every cell still needs electrolytes like sodium from the diet. But we constantly lose sodium and other electrolytes through sweat and urine. Which is why it’s so important to get adequate amounts of sodium every day.
Stress—not salt—is the real disease culprit
But what happens if you consume more salt than your cells need? Well, your body is designed to take care of that. Your kidneys have the ability to remove any extra sodium in your system—as long as you are not under chronic stress.
Stress influences your hormones to conserve salt in order to retain blood and fluids that are needed to prepare the body to respond to, and survive, the stress. Of course, today’s levels of chronic stress are abnormal, and the human body was never designed to deal with them.
As I have always said, salt is not the culprit behind high blood pressure and heart disease. Stress is the real, silent killer.
Fortunately, there are many non-drug, natural approaches for stress reduction that most cardiologists won’t tell you about—but I will. To find the stress-reducing natural therapies that are tailored personally to you, check out my book with Mike Jawer, Your Emotional Type.
Get the right amount of sodium with the right diet
The best way to ensure you get the sodium your cells need is to eat fresh, whole foods as part of a balanced diet. Of course, this diet doesn’t include processed and packaged foods, which are typically teeming with salt.
The natural levels of sodium in fruits and vegetables give you the amounts your body needs, along with many vitamins and other healthy plant constituents.
Fresh, organic dairy, meat, and seafood also naturally provide sodium…plus fat-soluble vitamins like D and E and bioavailable minerals the body needs, such as calcium, iodine, magnesium, and selenium.
If you follow a healthy, balanced diet, you won’t need to add salt to your food. Instead, you should be adding pepper (black or red, to taste) and other healthy herbs for flavor.
And if you have been eating salty processed foods, your taste buds will adjust to the natural levels of sodium present in fresh foods—without the FDA’s “help.”
What the FDA should really be concentrating on
Don’t get me wrong; salt can and should be reduced in packaged foods.
Food manufacturers and retailers, including General Mills, Nestle, Mars, and Domino’s have already had success reducing salt in hundreds of products.4
But your diet shouldn’t be made up primarily of these foods to begin with.
And the real bottom line is that we don’t need the FDA piling on to regulate an essential element like sodium. Instead, it should be concentrating on the dangerous additives in foods, such as sugar and toxic artificial chemicals…which too often get a pass from both the FDA and EPA.
More backwards-looking regulation like the proposed sodium guidelines just means more big government and more intrusion into your life.
It reminds me of the story of when the ancient Roman Republic finally defeated Carthage (present-day Libya)—after being ritually reminded in the Roman Senate, at the end of every oration by Cato the Elder, that Carthago delenda est (“Carthage must be destroyed”).
The Romans took this edict so seriously that they sowed salt into the soil to prevent Carthage from ever recovering again
Let’s not go to the other extreme by letting the FDA regulate salt in our diet…or our natural health and hydration may never recover.
2“Urinary Sodium and Potassium Excretion, Mortality, and Cardiovascular Events.”
N Engl J Med 2014; 371:612-623.