Blood Pressure Series (Part 2): Too much salt raises blood pressure. You know it. I know it. Doctors know it. But this common notion lacks scientific evidence. Let's examine this.
Dr Lewis Dahl began recommending salt restriction in the 1950s. But his salt theory really became popular due to the DASH Study. Which was a clinical trial conducted to determine how dietary patterns impact blood pressure. Now the DASH diet was very low in salt and refined sugar. And after eight weeks, study participants showed reduced hypertension. The scientists at the NIH and USDA wrongly judged it was due to salt restriction. When it was actually the reduction in sugar. Because hypertension is an insulin-resistant state. So it is driven by excess sugar and not excess salt.
Now recent studies have completely debunked the salt theory. In 1998, NHANES I found that "these results do not support current recommendations for routine reduction of salt consumption." In 2003, the prestigious Cochrane Review concluded that "there is little evidence for long-term benefit from reducing salt intake." In 2006, NHANES II reported that "low salt diets led to higher mortality rates among those with hypertension."
Interestingly, some ancestral cultures consumed over 10 times the amount of salt we consume today. Because salt was a widely used food preservative before the invention of refrigerators. In the 1600s in Sweden, the average person consumed 100 grams of salt per day. Today, most people consume 10 grams or less. Yet we struggle with far higher rates of hypertension than ever before. Or consider that the Japanese and South Koreans live the longest, yet they consume the highest amounts of salt.
In 1994, Dr Jens Titze discovered a 28-day hormonal rhythm that regulates sodium retention. Such that the body maintains a cyclical sodium balance regardless of salt intake. That is to say, bye bye salt theory. And so it goes.
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