Conventional wisdom teaches that everybody needs to limit sodium intake, because too much salt is bad for you. But some experts have suspected for some time that too LITTLE sodium is not good either. A recent meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Hypertension confirms those suspicions, indicating that the current recommendations for sodium levels by governmental agencies such as the CDC are too low to sustain good health.
This news certainly comes as a relief to people trying to be “good” and limit their sodium intake, who have been frustrated by bland, tasteless food.
A meta-analysis study takes the results of many individual studies, analyzes them eliminating confounding factors, and comes to a conclusion. The conclusion these researchers reached is that “both low sodium intakes and high sodium intakes are associated with increased mortality.” The study covered nearly 275,000 study participants.
The safest amount of sodium to consume ranges from 2,645 to 4,945 mg per day, yet the CDC (Center For Disease Control) recommends no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. That level, say the study’s researchers, is too low for good health.
Most of the world’s population, without any effort on their part, consume sodium levels in that safe zone. In fact, 95% of people naturally consume sodium within the proper range. But when sodium consumption is too low, or too excessive, the risk of mortality increases.
Actually, the late Dr. Tom Brewer found that too little sodium in the diet of pregnant women can lead to pre-eclampsia, or metabolic toxemia of the liver. His research led him to teach pregnant clients to “salt to taste.” He found that diets that restricted sodium intake often led to inadequate blood volume expansion, which could lead to deadly consequences. The blood volume of a pregnant mother needs to expand 50 to 60% in order to accommodate the increased pressures on her body. If that does not happen, the damage to her liver and kidneys can be significant.
Joy Jones, R.N., teaches that “a woman’s taste buds are usually the most accurate indicator of the amount of salt that she needs, and studies have shown that it is not possible for a pregnant woman to eat too much salt. Her kidneys simply excrete whatever extra salt she eats. In fact, it has also been shown that after just 2 weeks of ‘salt in moderation,’ the mother’s blood volume begins to drop.”
It is important to note that not all sodium is created equal. The body recognizes natural forms of sodium such as sea salt or Himalayan pink salt more than the convention processed free-flowing table salt.
After the sodium meta-analysis was published this week in AJH, the CDC and American Heart Association were quick to dismiss the findings of the study, citing “faulty methodology” and “flawed data.” Yet they pointed to no specific examples of such. Dr. Niels Graudal, lead author of the meta-analysis, defends the study and assures that the methodology is sound and the data is clear.
He says that “there are statistical methods that allow us to correct for such confounders in order to ensure for accurate findings; such methods are used in almost all such studies, and have been for many years.” In other words, they took into account all the variables in the study.
The results of the study show that there is every bit as much harm to the body from eating too little salt as there is from consuming too much sodium. The level set by many doctors and the CDC “are far too low, perhaps dangerously so.”
[image via bing]