Salt intake is a hot new topic in the world of health and medicine, but not for the reason you might think. For decades, doctors have told people that a diet high in salt could lead to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. However, now, a new study has actually determined that the opposite is true as well. A diet that is too low in salt could also lead to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, and even death.
Canada’s McMaster University was the location where the most recent salt study was conducted. The researchers looking into how salt affects diet not only determined that too little salt is extremely dangerous for individuals, they also determined that the only people that should worry about getting too much salt are individuals that suffer from high blood pressure. The study at McMaster University used 130,000 participants from almost fifty different countries from around the world. The crew of researchers examined the relationship between salt intake and heart diseases, as well as strokes and death. The study examined all types of individuals, including those with both high and low blood pressure. When the results were tallied, it was discovered that too low of a salt intake was highly dangerous to not only those persons with low blood pressure, but also those with high blood pressure.
Andrew Mente, the lead author of the study from McMaster University commented on the results of the salt study.
“These are extremely important findings for those who are suffering from high blood pressure. While our data highlights the importance of reducing high salt intake in people with hypertension, it does not support reducing salt intake to low levels.”
Previous recommendations on the amount of salt intake per day were between 3.5 and 4 grams per day. Some guidelines had previously stated that individuals should lower their salt intake to 2.3 grams per day. However, after this new study, the researchers from McMaster University are now stating that consuming less than three grams of salt per day can greatly increase one’s risk of heart disease and stroke. Mente commented on what seems antithetical to common sense — why too little salt can increase the risk of heart issues.
“Low sodium intake reduces blood pressure modestly, compared to average intake, but low sodium intake also has other effects, including adverse elevations of certain hormones which may outweigh any benefits. The key question is not whether blood pressure is lower with very low salt intake, instead it is whether it improves health.”
In their findings, published in the journal The Lancet, the researchers said that their study adds to the current understandings between the intake of salt and its consequent health. Additionally, the researchers state that the study questions current guidelines that advise everyone to lower their salt intake.
So why is salt so important to our bodies? Salt is important; in fact, it’s just as essential to our bodies as water or air. Each human body contains somewhere between four and eight ounces of salt. Salt assists in maintaining a normal amount of blood in the body and also maintains the correct balance of water within and surrounding tissues and cells in the human body. Salt also is essential in the proper digesting of food and is a key component to regulating a proper heartbeat. The result of not obtaining enough salt in our daily diets can result in muscle cramps, exhaustion, dizziness, and even convulsions. Of course, after this new study, you can add heart disease and stroke to those symptoms of an insufficient salt intake.
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