For almost 50 years, government public health experts and mainstream doctors have claimed that salt in your diet causes high blood pressure.
So, they want you to eat a diet of bland, tasteless foods and seasonings in order to restrict your sodium intake and avoid heart disease.
The problem? This tactic DOESN’T WORK. And there’s absolutely NO evidence to support this claim.
In fact, some very convincing research now links having low sodium with MORE heart problems…
Studies repeatedly find link between low salt and poor heart health
In a study published in the esteemed Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers looked at the effects of sodium restriction on actual heart disease outcomes.
The study involved two cohorts of people with established cardiovascular diseases or Type II diabetes. And in both groups, the researchers found a link between low sodium intake (lower than 3,000 mg per day) with an increase in cardiovascular events (such as heart attacks and strokes)!
Of course, 3,000 mg/day of sodium is much higher than all of the expert recommendations. In fact:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says you should limit sodium intake to 2,300 mg/day.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) says you should limit it to just 2,000 mg/day.
- The American Heart Association (AHA) says you should limit it to a ludicrously low 1,500 mg/day.
So, clearly, following these misguided, “expert” recommendations to lower salt may actually sabotage your heart health…not help it. Especially if you already suffer from heart problems.
Just consider this…
In two studies from Italy, researchers noted that the stress of low sodium was particularly dangerous among patients experiencing congestive heart failure (active heart disease). The study included 232 people with heart failure who were assigned to consume either 2,700 mg or 1,800 mg per day of sodium.
The group with higher sodium intake had lower stress hormones, reduced hospitalizations, and lower mortality. And in a second, similar study from the same research group, patients on sodium restriction again had higher stress hormones. They also had more hospital admissions compared to patients with usual sodium intakes.
And that’s not all…
In the major, well-known study called the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study, researchers also noted a link between lower sodium intake (below 3,000 mg/day) and more heart disease events. And most of these participants were not already at higher risk for developing heart disease (as they were in the other studies).
Thankfully, we’re starting to understand more about WHY restricting sodium affects the heart so poorly…
For example, in a review by the prestigious Cochrane collaboration, researchers noted that restricting dietary sodium leads to an increase in the body’s production of harmful stress hormones. It also stresses the “neurohumoral system,” which helps maintain “homeostasis” (or stability) among the heart, lungs, kidneys, and vasculature. And chronic activation of the neurohumoral system can harm circulation and the heart, in addition to being a disaster for general health and well-being.
People just don’t do well with low salt intake
Of course, there’s one group of people who DO achieve very low intakes of dietary sodium: the Yanomami tribe of the Amazon Rain forest.
This native, forest-dwelling tribe in South America has a very restricted subsistence. (In 1994, I conducted field research on this group, which anthropologists called “the Fierce People.”)
In fact, the Yanomami consume less than 1,000 mg of sodium per day. (Wouldn’t the AHA be proud? That is, if they ever stepped out of their labs and into the Amazon jungle, as I did!)
But the Yanomami also have some of the highest levels of stress hormones ever detected. And they have a much lower life expectancy than most of the “civilized” world.
Now, in the U.S., most people consume about 3,600 mg of sodium per day. Which, despite what the “experts” say, is probably just right.
Because as these studies suggest, getting enough sodium in the diet is critical for all cells in the body and for healthy hydration (as I will discuss tomorrow). And on the flip side, not getting enough sodium stresses the body and the heart. Not to mention, your kidneys excrete more than 90 percent of dietary sodium, anyway.
Clearly, the body knows what it needs and will naturally seek it. So, go ahead and disregard all the looney, misguided, and outdated recommendations to restrict salt to absurdly low and dangerous levels.
And if you suffer from heart problems, I suggest you find a good internal medicine doctor who listens, takes their time with you, and stays current with the science. They’re far less likely to push ineffective, dangerous, and downright wrong dietary restrictions.
Lastly, you can learn about the many safe, effective, natural approaches to protecting your heart in my Heart Attack Prevention and Repair Protocol. To learn more about this comprehensive online learning tool, or to enroll today, click here now!
“Is Cutting Salt Ever Harmful?” Medscape, 4/12/21. (medscape.com/viewarticle/948725)