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SALT - Love It? It May Help Kill You.


  • You hear that every day and your doctors have said it for years. 
  • It is a challenge to actually do a low salt diet.
  • How important is it really and what is the best goal?

Sodium is a vital element. You really can't live without salt as it is part of the process of moving electrical nerve impulses in cells. is critical to controlling the water balance in the body, is essential for a number of metabolic processes, and a long list of other functions.  It is so vital to life that the body has developed exquisitely sensitive ways to control the amount of sodium circulating in the blood and maintains it in a surprisingly narrow range.

From a health perspective, you want to understand the consequences of having your sodium out of balance. Suppose you eat too much salt. Think of it this way. When you force the body to constantly manage a big oversupply of sodium what do you suppose the consequences might be?

  • Your body must retain extra water to dilute the salt so fluid collects in your tissues. Do you enjoy edema?
  • Your kidneys go into overdrive to dump excess salt. Any concern about always stressing your kidneys?
  • Excess sodium increases blood volume with increasing blood pressure. High blood pressure anyone?
  • Excess sodium disrupts the electrical flow through cell membranes. Brain fog or heart attack appeal to you?
  • Sodium can cause pathological alterations in the structure and function of large elastic arteries. Bad arteries?
  • How about heart attack and stroke? High sodium raises your risk for sudden death.  Interested?
  • Salt can damage the lining of the stomach.  How about a little gastric cancer to improve your day?
  • Bad bones OK with you? Sodium affect calcium loss and may contribute to osteoporosis.
  • Kidney stones are fun.  High salt can increase the growth of kidney stones by altering urine content.

Eating the typical American diet you are consuming far more salt than you need. Why do we do that? We require salt and we really like the taste.  The food industry caters to our likes and they add salt to virtually every product.  We also have developed a taste for salt carriers such as potato chips. The result, on average we eat several times as much salt as we need.  Do you wonder why your health is affected?  Do you care if you are ill? Perhaps it might be time to think about your lifestyle dietary choices.

A lot of liver patients are told to follow a low salt diet, but it is difficult to do. Salt is everywhere and it is so easy to cheat, just a little, particularly if you are not yet ill.  But if you can take away one message here it is that managing your salt is vitally important if you want to give your body the best chance to keep you alive.  Stability is your friend. Stable blood chemistry is good.  Be kind to yourself even though you really would like to have those chips.

An important idea is that you would like to have a stable salt level.  The big swings that come from eating those salty treats puts a strain on your organs so a little regularly is better than a shot of salt.

Experts disagree on how much salt is best and writers frequently confuse things by interchanging salt and sodium.  Salt is 40% sodium so the 1,500 mg of salt often quoted is actually 600 mg of sodium.  The biological need is typically said to be about 500 mg of sodium so in our society it is very difficult to get too little.

More information about salt