The “counter-factual” reality of salt consumption…
- A high-salt diet will not increase your risk of heart disease. Having the correct potassium to sodium balance influences your risk for high blood pressure and heart disease to a far greater extent than high sodium alone
When the crew ate more salt, they excreted more salt; the amount of sodium in their blood remained constant, and their urine volume increased. ‘But then we had a look at fluid intake, and were more than surprised,’ he said.
Instead of drinking more, the crew were drinking less … when getting more salt. So where was the excreted water coming from? ‘There was only one way to explain this phenomenon,’ Dr. Titze said. ‘The body most likely had generated or produced water when salt intake was high.'”
The other puzzling finding was that the astronauts complained of being constantly hungry when given higher amounts of salt. Interestingly, urine tests revealed they were producing higher amounts of glucocorticoid hormones, which affect both your metabolism and immune function.
Follow-up animal testing confirmed the results, showing the more salt the mice were given, the less water they drank and the more food they required to avoid weight loss. The reason why then became apparent. As the salt intake increased, the animals produced higher amounts of glucocorticoid hormones, causing increased fat and muscle breakdown.
These broken-down muscle proteins are then converted into urea, which is known to help your body excrete waste via urine. Through some still-unknown mechanism, this urea also helps your body retain water. In other words, a side effect of higher salt consumption is that it frees up water for your body to use.
However, this process is energy-intensive, which is why the animals required more food when on a high-salt diet and why the astronauts complained of hunger. Titze believes the increase in glucocorticoid hormones are also somehow responsible for the bizarre cyclical fluctuations in urine output.
“Scientists knew that a starving body will burn its own fat and muscle for sustenance. But the realization that something similar happens on a salty diet has come as a revelation,” The New York Times reports.11
“People do what camels do, noted Dr. Mark Zeidel, a nephrologist at Harvard Medical School who wrote an editorial accompanying Dr. Titze’s studies. A camel traveling through the desert that has no water to drink gets water instead by breaking down the fat in its hump.
One of the many implications of this finding is that salt may be involved in weight loss. Generally, scientists have assumed that a high-salt diet encourages a greater intake of fluids, which increases weight. But if balancing a higher salt intake requires the body to break down tissue, it may also increase energy expenditure.”
As noted by Dr. Melanie Hoenig, nephrologist and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, “The work suggests that we really do not understand the effect of sodium chloride on the body.”12
While salt has gotten a bad rap, suspected of increasing your risk for high blood pressure and heart disease, research shows the real key to relaxing your arteries and reducing your blood pressure is actually the ratio of sodium to potassium you have — not your sodium intake alone.13
>In 2007, the authors of the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (The NHANES III study) representing nearly 100 million US adults reported that there is “ a robust, significant, and consistent significant inverse association between dietary sodium and cardiovascular mortality.”2 This means people who eat more salt have a lower risk of death from heart disease and stroke.
Effective Diet Therapy
In 1939 Walter Kempner, MD introduced the rice diet for the treatment of serious medical problems, including severe hypertension, congestive heart failure, kidney failure, and diabetes at Duke University School of Medicine.19,20 In 2002 I visited the Rice Diet Clinic in Durham, North Carolina and compared notes with the doctors working at this famous facility (Dr. Kempner retired in 1992 and died in 1997 at age 94). Patients with many ailments have had their health restored with the Kempner diet of rice with fruit, and later on, vegetables and a few animal products. As a result of the pioneering work of Dr. Kempner, for almost 70 years diet therapy has been available for every doctor to cure his or her patients. The greatest obstacle to widespread deployment of this treatment has been the unfamiliar taste of the rice-based-meals due to preparation without any added salt. My 32 years of diet-focused medical experience has taught me that the major benefits of the rice diet are from the rice. Understanding that salt is not a health issue (except for the very ill) has allowed me to design a program that works for you and I for a lifetime, because it tastes good.