Thursday, May 05, 2011

Pass the salt shaker?

CNN Health:
Those who consumed the least salt had a 56 percent higher risk of death from a heart attack or stroke compared with those who had the highest consumption, even after controlling for obesity, cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, and other risk factors....

Despite the study's shortcomings, the findings do suggest that sodium guidelines should perhaps take into account differences among individuals, says Randal Thomas, M.D., a preventive cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota.

"We know that not everybody is as sensitive to sodium in their diet as others. Even among people with high blood pressure, no more than half are probably sodium sensitive, and in the general population, it's probably less than 10 percent," Thomas says. "In setting up a public policy, it's important to recognize the need to have a policy that doesn't punish the majority for the benefit of the minority."


Blogger Cham said...

Sodium, as a food source, is an strange element. I eat no processed food. I do like salt on my food so I was wondering about whether I was taking in too much salt. I supposed I could have gotten out my calculator and did some math but I didn't.

I was reading an article a few months ago about salt and it said, roughly speaking, that one shouldn't be filling up their salt shaker more than once a week. I fill my small shaker up every 3 weeks, so I figure I'm safe. (I think the comment was you should eat no more than a teaspoon a day) However, for those that eat processed food and go to restaurants frequently, the amount of salt in food is can be very high.

Like Helen, I'm not sold that salt is bad for you, but eating huge amounts of salt probably doesn't help your health either. Currently, there does seem to be some discussion among the health experts happening so we'll see where it leads.

7:12 AM, May 05, 2011  
Blogger Helen said...


My sodium is often low and my blood pressure is often lower than 90/60 which is too low. I think that some people need salt and others need to cut back. My problem is with the "one size fits all" policy that says that salt is always bad. It's not.

7:38 AM, May 05, 2011  
Blogger Zorro said...

The three white granules that kill more people than radical Islam: sugar, salt and cocaine.

I stay away from all three, and I'm all the better for it.

When it comes to indigestibles, my rule is "If it's white, recoil in fright."

Words to live by.

8:26 AM, May 05, 2011  
Blogger Kim said...

"... a policy that doesn't punish the majority for the benefit of the minority."

What, and overturn the last fifty years of lawmaking? The very idea.

9:14 AM, May 05, 2011  
Blogger Cham said...

ZorroPrimo: You are speaking to the choir. I live maybe 200 yards from where the majority of the HFCS and granulated sugar is manufactured and processed for the USA. The mill operates 24 hours a day 7 days a week, no interruptions. The ships come in with the sugar beets, and the rail cars move morning noon and night out of the place with the liquid HFCS. The truck yard is at capacity most of the time, and most of the trucks say "WalMart" on the side. It's all sugar all the time. Forget touring animal slaughterhouses, the sugar plant looks like a dirty dungeon. Spend 5 minutes looking through the fence at the way this place operates and you will never tough sugar again. Forget about the drugs, sugar kills.

10:00 AM, May 05, 2011  
Blogger Peregrine John said...

Why in the holy hell does anyone think a public policy regarding food is anything remotely like a good idea? That is exactly the sort of deranged nonsense John Adams was talking about when he said, "Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people."

No, I take that back. The idea of any sort of public policy which can punish people for salt intake is entirely more invasive, asinine and obnoxious than anything he could have imagined.

10:11 AM, May 05, 2011  
Blogger Dunkelzahn4prez said...

ZorroPrimo said: "If it's white, recoil in fright."

Does Jeremiah Wright know you're stealing his material? ;-)

10:36 AM, May 05, 2011  
Blogger Unknown said...

I've watched the nutrition 'experts' change their minds so many times I never pay attention to them anymore.

11:05 AM, May 05, 2011  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

my resting heart rate is 44 and my blood pressure is also quite low, 90/60 most days. one day i went to the walk-in with a flu and the doctor said my blood pressure was too low for someone with a low resting heart rate and minor tachycardia and that i should consider medication! i said i would eat more salt and got my anti-biotics.

everyones biochemistry is slightly different, and an on-going monitoring of a person`s illnesses, medications, recovery rates etc. would, to me, be the only scientific way to accurately diagnose whether someone needed to have such and such a blood pressure or heart rate.

i am also at the tail end of a uti which i have sweat out for the last two days. i resisted the antibiotic route against the fear of kidney infection, because i know my body well enough that if i shut down and rest, i don`t need to confuse my immune system with foreign substances...other than almost a gallon of cranberry juice in two days!

regarding my salt intake, i will eat my share of a bag of regular potato chips occasionally and salt on my french fries along with malt vinegar...but i don`t own a salt shaker.

11:25 AM, May 05, 2011  
Blogger TMink said...

Zorro, I learned about avoiding white powders in terms of drugs a long time ago. Well, except for a Goody's. I see your point about other white powders.

Dunkle, good one!

Dr.A, you are such a jock you likely earned that low bp man.


1:43 PM, May 05, 2011  
Blogger Zorro said...


Not quite. Wright's line goes like this: "If it's white, invent a fight."

Perfectly understandable mistake.

1:54 PM, May 05, 2011  
Blogger Larry Sheldon said...

High Fructose Corn Syrup from Sugar Beets?

Who knew?

2:16 PM, May 05, 2011  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

trey. yeah years of going like hell has it`s effects.

2:51 PM, May 05, 2011  
Blogger Carol said...

Sounds like a pure correlation result. People I know who already have signs of heart trouble usually limit their salt intake.

In fact some people without symptoms do as well, because everyone knows salt is "bad" for you.

3:43 PM, May 05, 2011  
Blogger Cham said...

Larry, the idea is to generate the product for the cheapest cost. Sugar beets are now cheaper than sugar cane. The raw material comes in via ship in bulk, it's ground up and looks like a damp sand.

Oddly enough, I've been to Utah outside of Salt Lake City on the lake and have seen where they make the salt. It's not nearly as complicated as HFCS. Morton fills large ponds with Salt Lake water and then waits about 6 weeks for the water to evaporate. Then they scoop up the salt.

3:51 PM, May 05, 2011  
Blogger Dunkelzahn4prez said...

ZorroPrimo said...

Not quite. Wright's line goes like this: "If it's white, invent a fight."

Perfectly understandable mistake.

LOL. I hear the Philadelphia chapter of the New Black Pantner Party has a similar slogan.

5:29 PM, May 05, 2011  
Blogger Dunkelzahn4prez said...

Panther, not Pantner. Although, Pantner is funnier.

5:29 PM, May 05, 2011  
Blogger Kathy K said...

I've spent countless hours (both here in Florida and when I lived in Thailand) explaining to people that if they intended to go outside for more than a few minutes and didn't eat any salt they were going to die a LOT faster from dehydration than they would from (gasp) eating salt.

Salt pills. They save lives. I don't actually like salty foods that much - I have to force myself to eat it. But it keeps me from keeling over in the heat - and I like the outside. And the heat.

7:41 PM, May 05, 2011  
Blogger George said...

Of course, both sodium and potassium are required for muscle contraction. The heart being a muscle and all....this article makes some sense.

8:19 PM, May 05, 2011  
Blogger Syl said...

I love salt. If you put a dessert next to a dish of green olives I choose the olives every time.

A cardiologist friend of mine told me when I asked about it that if I don't have high blood pressure salt can be good for you. Eat salt, drink plenty of liquids, and constantly flush your system out.

As I've aged my blood pressure has risen a bit, I take a low dose blood pressure pill and still eat lots of salt. My blood pressure has returned to its normal level even with all the salt.

10:05 PM, May 05, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do hope someday we realize the likelihood that our genes affect our bodies' metabolic mechanisms, so none of these pronouncements work for any majority of people. Especially since our genes have been evolving for a longer and slower time than our changing eating habits or health nannies have been around for?

Doesn't it seem likely that, just as e.g. sickle cell anemia is a genetic adaptation that prevents growth/development of malaria, and that being genetically from West Africa makes you more likely to have sickle cell anemia, some ethnic groups will have genes that adapted processing of salt or sugar or fat uniquely to fit their environment? And that suddenly throwing those bodies (with those genes) into any specific diet could throw off all of it? Maybe some ethnic groups are adapted to high fat foods in a way that promotes good cholesterol but not bad; maybe others have genes that were fine at handling higher levels of salt but were totally unprepared for sugar, etc.

I find it fascinating that we now know that people in northern latitudes don't get enough sunlight to make vitamin D naturally in the winter, but for generations and generations, the scandinavians have been eating fish high in vitamin D as a staple of their winters. Isn't it likely that the mediterranean diet is good for you if you're mediterranean moreso than if you're Somalia or Japanese?

12:41 AM, May 06, 2011  
Blogger TD said...

Dr. Alistair--

If you're suffering from a UTI, try D-Mannose. It causes the bacteria to be flushed from your body. I use it as a preventative (I'm allergic to all but one of the drugs that treat UTIs, and the one I can take causes side effects) by taking one pill morning and night. If I feel like I'm getting a UTI (rare, but once every couple of years it happens), I take two pills every couple of hours, and within a day it's gone. I recommend the brand that also contains "Cran-Actin".

12:07 PM, May 06, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carol sez: "Sounds like a pure correlation result. People I know who already have signs of heart trouble usually limit their salt intake."


That's exactly what I was thinking. The people who limit their salt are the people who are scared about their blood pressure or some kind of heart episode.

I really hope researchers are smarter than that - but they probably aren't, and it's kind of depressing.

3:59 PM, May 06, 2011  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

thanks td, i have been taking some since yesterday, but the pain has become intolerable and so i`ve broken down and got antibiotics. i have relied on things like oragano oil and i mix cayenne pepper with ginger and put it in capsules, which i find is great for physical endurance...but i had to do smething drastic to avoid a kidney infection as fever came roaring back this morning.

4:38 PM, May 06, 2011  
Blogger Kevin said...

Reminds me of this almost $400 million + study of diet and heart disease (

When it did not confirm the expected results it was just ignored.

Nowhere does the medical profession speak with more authority and less knowledge than on diet.

4:39 PM, May 07, 2011  

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