Truth about high sodium intake and health


Sodium has gotten a great deal of bad press over the past few decades. There is, of course, good reason for the warnings that are frequently posted by health experts, both online and in numerous medical journals, that are designed to make people think twice before using their salt shaker liberally. After all, the American Heart Association (AHA) cautions that excessive sodium intake can cause the following health risks:

  • enlarged heart muscle
  • strokes
  • headaches
  • high blood pressure
  • stomach cancer
  • kidney stones
  • heart disease
  • kidney disease

Culprits of too much sodium in the diet

The majority of the sodium in the average diet — about 65% — comes from foods that are obtained from convenience stores or supermarkets. This comes in the form of processed foods, since manufacturers often use added sodium in order to help preserve their food for a longer shelf life. The remaining 35% of the sodium comes from restaurants and other sources — 25% and 10% respectively. It can be assumed that the other sources include the sodium that people add to their foods when they cook at home.

Sodium has other hazards too

In addition to the health risks that are posed by eating a diet that is high in sodium, health experts caution that excess sodium can take a toll on the way a person looks. Too much sodium can lead to bloating, puffiness and weight gain. Health organizations have different amounts of sodium that they deem safe, with most, such as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the American Diabetic Association (ADA) and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), putting the highest safe amount at 2,300 mg. An interesting note is that the optimal level of sodium that the AHA deems is safe is 1,500 mg. This is the same amount the other agencies place on the lower level of being acceptable.

Sodium has surprises for people

There is a growing body of evidence that points to the fact that a salt-restricted diet might not be the best for long-term health. The Journal of the American Medical Association recently noted a correlation between a low-sodium diet and a higher mortality rate from cardiovascular causes. This data pointed to an increase in hospitalization for cardiovascular issues for those people who had low salt intake compared to those who had a moderate amount of salt in their diets.

In addition, a recent study cited in the American Journal of Hypertension found that diets low in salt resulted in higher levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the plasma. The researchers concluded that these higher levels of hormones and lipids in the blood negate the effects of the slightly lower blood pressure seen in patients who restrict their salt intake greatly.

As with many health recommendations, it is perhaps best to exercise moderation when it comes to the amount of salt in the diet.

Source; Natural news

Salt-reduction campaign led to decrease stroke, heart disease deaths

A nationwide campaign to reduce salt intake among people in the United Kingdom resulted in a drastic reduction in heart disease and stroke deaths among the population.

In 2003, the government in the U.K. launched a widespread effort to encourage companies to gradually reduce sodium levels in processed foods. Now, a new study in the British Medical Journal is showing the impact of this public health initiative.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 31,500 people participating in the Health Survey for England between 2003 to 2011. During the study period, levels of salt intake among the population decreased by about 15 percent. Over the same period, deaths from stroke decreased by 42 percent and deaths from coronary heart disease dropped by 40 percent.

Rates of smoking and overall cholesterol levels in the population declined over the same period, while produce intake and body mass index both increased. The researchers, from Queen Mary University of London, noted that the single largest factor contributing to the decline in deaths was decreased blood pressure among the population.

Some physicians noted that the U.K. has been far more proactive and successful at enforcing the reduction of sodium in foods, compared to the U.S.

“In the U.K., the political action group ‘Action on Salt’ worked with the government and the food industry to slowly wean the British populace off salt, with excellent results. Yet, our food industry has fought a similar action tooth and nail,” Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at UC San Francisco
Source: Fox news

Salt makes overweight people age faster

Scientists have discovered that overweight teenagers who eat too much salt have shorter telomeres, the ends of the chromosome which protect the cells from harm

Eating too much salt may speed up the ageing process, scientists have discovered for the first time.
Although sodium is known to raise the blood pressure, which can lead to fatal heart attacks and strokes, it is the first time it has been linked to cellular ageing.

Scientists found that overweight or obese teenagers who had a high salt diet had shorter ‘telomeres’ – the protective caps at the end of chromosomes – compared with those who ate a low salt diet. Telomeres have been compared with the plastic tips that stop shoe laces fraying.

Each time a cell divides the telomeres get shorter and when they get too short the cell stops dividing and dies.

The same genetic process has been linked to conditions associated with old age such as heart disease, cancer, type-2 diabetes and dementia. High levels of body fat were already known to hasten the shortening of telomeres.

But the new study found that sodium in salt seems to work hand-in-hand with obesity to speed the effect up still further.
Lead scientist Dr Haidong Zhu, from Georgia Regents University in Augusta, US, said: “Even in these young people, we can already see the effect of high sodium intake, suggesting that high sodium intake and obesity may act synergistically to accelerate cellular ageing.

“Lowering sodium intake, especially if you are overweight or obese, may slow down the cellular ageing process that plays an important role in the development of heart disease.

“The majority of sodium in the diet comes from processed foods, so parents can help by cooking fresh meals more often and by offering fresh fruit rather than potato chips for a snack.”

Dr Zhu’s team divided 766 teenagers aged 14 to 18 into different groups according to their reported sodium intake.

Low-intake teens consumed an average of around 5g of salt a day, compared with more than 10g grams for the high-intake group. In Britain the recommended intake is 6g. A recent study showed the majority of teenagers exceed their daily limit, mainly through eating bread and cereal.

Researchers found that overweight or obese teenagers who at the most salt had significantly shorter telomeres than those who ate the least. But high sodium intake did not have a significant effect on telomere shortening in normal-weight teens.

Although the salt link was only found in obese people it is the first time that salt has been shown to affect cellular ageing.
The research, presented at an American Heart Association meeting in San Francisco, suggests a possible link with inflammation, said the scientists. Inflammation is known to hasten telomere shortening and is linked to obesity. It also increases a person’s sensitivity to salt.

Katherine Jenner, Campaign Director at Consensus Action on Salt and Health said: “Lowering your salt intake is essential to lower your risk of not just heart disease, but also stroke, heart attack and chronic kidney disease.

“As you might expect, teenagers often have a high salt diet, but it’s not just pizza, crisps and chips that are the culprits, every day foods such as breads, breakfast cereals and sauces can be surprisingly high in salt.” Nutritionist Sonia Pombo added: “Children are eating a worryingly high amount of salt.

“Dietary habits in childhood and adolescence are likely to influence eating patterns in later life.
“Liking salt and salty foods is a learned taste preference and the recommendation that the adult population reduce their sodium intake will be more successful if children do not develop a preference for salt in the first place.”

Source: telegraph

Spices and herbs helps adults reduce salt intake

Teaching people how to flavor food with spices and herbs is considerably more effective at lowering salt intake than having them do it on their own, according to research presented on Wednesday at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology & Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity & Metabolism Scientific Sessions 2014.In the first phase of the study, 55 volunteers ate a low-sodium diet for four weeks. Researchers provided all foods and calorie-containing drinks. Salt is the main source of sodium in food.

In the second phase, half of the study volunteers participated in a 20-week behavioral intervention aimed at reducing their sodium intake to 1,500 mg/day by using spices and herbs. The other half reduced sodium on their own.
More than 60 percent of the participants in the study had high blood pressure, 18 percent had diabetes and they were overweight.

The researchers found:
In the first phase, sodium intake decreased from an average 3,450 mg/day to an average 1,656 mg/day.

In the second phase, sodium intake increased in both groups. But those who received the behavioral intervention consumed an average 966 mg/day of sodium less than the group that didn’t receive the intervention.

“People in the intervention group learned problem-solving strategies, use of herbs and spices in recipes, how culture influences spice choices, how to monitor diet, overcoming the barriers to making dietary changes, how to choose and order foods when eating out and how to make low-sodium intake permanent,” said Cheryl A. M. Anderson, Ph.D., M.P.H., lead author of the study and associate professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California San Diego.

Those assigned to the behavioral intervention group had cooking demonstrations and had a chance to share how they were changing traditional recipes to remove salt and include spices. The researchers didn’t emphasize specific spices, and encouraged participants to try different things to find out what they liked most.

“Salt is abundant in the food supply and the average sodium level for Americans is very high — much higher than what is recommended for healthy living,” Anderson said. “We studied the use of a behavioral intervention where people learn how to use spices and herbs and less salt in their daily lives.”

“Given the challenges of lowering salt in the American diet, we need a public health approach aimed at making it possible for consumers to
The McCormick Science Institute funded the study.

Source: Science daily

New drug can lower salt intake without any dietary changes

Sodium: An important dietary element that the body needs to function. But too much of the chemical can potentially be deadly.

Given current diet trends, a significant majority of Americans consume too much sodium from their food, contributing to an overall increase in cardiovascular disease and poor kidney function. But soon, a new drug may be able to solve this growing problem – by lowering an individual’s salt absorption without affecting his or her diet.

The medication could potentially help the millions of Americans who suffer from chronic kidney disease (CKD) and hypertension, but who have a hard time adhering to a low-sodium diet.

Developed by researchers at drug manufacturer Ardelyx, the drug, tenapanor, works by blocking a membrane transporter called NH3, which is responsible for most of the reuptake of sodium in the body. By inhibiting this protein, the majority of sodium is prevented from seeping into the bloodstream and instead remains in the gut.

“It’s a small molecule that’s been designed to remain within the gut, acting on this transporter that is expressed in the mucosa in the GI (gastrointestinal) tract,” lead researcher Dominique Charmot, co-founder and chief scientific officer at Ardelyx, told “And in doing so, what it does is divert sodium from going into the blood to going into the stool. So that increases sodium in the stool and avoids building up too much sodium in the body.”

According to Charmot, current medications to control sodium include diuretics and antihypertensive drugs, which either increase water excretion or control high blood pressure. However, these drugs require patients to adhere to a diet very low in sodium – a feat that can be difficult given the high prevalence of the chemical in typical American diets. But since tenapanor remains in the gut, the drug can remove the sodium while patients continue to eat their normal diet.

To test the effectiveness of tenapanor, Charmot and lead study author Andrew Spencer, senior director for research and development at Ardelyx, administered the drug to rats that had fractions of their kidneys removed, in order to emulate patients with CKD. They also continued feeding the rats a high-sodium diet to see how it interfered with the drug’s success.

“What we’ve shown in this rat model is it protects against hypertension and hypertrophy (an increase in volume) of the heart; and it protects against further damage of the kidney, which is shown by the presence of protein in the urine,” Charmot said.

Additionally, tenapanor was given to patients with CKD in a phase 1 proof of concept study. After taking the medication, patients showed an increase of sodium in their stools and no presence of the drug was detected in their bloodstreams – proving the drug adhered to its design and function.

Charmot and his team hope that their drug will benefit many in the United States, especially given Americans’ widespread consumption of sodium on a daily basis. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend people should limit their sodium to less than 2,300 milligrams a day, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the average American eats more than 3,300 milligrams daily. In fact, the CDC found that more than 90 percent of Americans over the age of 2 eat too much sodium.

Experts believe these dietary trends have contributed to the rising incidence of chronic diseases in the United States. The CDC states that 26 million Americans suffer from CKD and approximately 67 million people have high blood pressure – equating to 1 in 3 U.S. citizens.

And the sodium-related health problems don’t simply stop there, according to Charmot.

“A new body of science is emerging which tells us that sodium, independent of blood pressure, is bad. There’s a lot of animal data showing salt can induce scar tissue in the kidneys and in the vasculature – something that’s seen, for example, by the thickness of the arteries.”

Because of sodium’s potential to contribute to so many diseases, the researchers believe tenapanor can help many individuals stay healthy while enjoying a normal dietary routine.

“It’s fair to say that asking patients to maintain a low-sodium diet is very hard to do,” Charmot said. “…Most of the food additives contain sodium; people who eat in restaurants cannot control sodium; plus, food is bland without sodium. Also there’s a risk if you go too low in sodium, you also diminish nutrient composition which is needed for you to thrive. So we believe this drug can help patients comply with a more normal diet.”

The research on tenapanor was published online in the journal Science.

Source: health medicine