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Reviewing the Science Surrounding Sodium Intake

Friday, April 9th 2021 10:00am 6 min read
Dr. Jessica Peatross dr.jess.md @drjessmd

Hospitalist & top functional MD who gets to the root cause. Stealth infection & environmental toxicity keynote speaker.

Sweet is a popular flavor. Salty is a close second. The high salt snack aisle and high sodium soups and frozen dinners at the grocery store attest to our affinity for salt. However, for many decades, health experts have advised us to be cautious about consuming too much sodium. They assert that too much salt is a causative factor in hypertension, which is a leading risk for kidney disease, heart disease, and strokes.

Sodium Deficiency

Some researchers are beginning to investigate this advice. One researcher, Dr. James DiNicolantonio, is a cardiovascular research scientist at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City. He has invested considerable time reviewing the research, policies, and history surrounding salt and how it affects our health.

He notes that salt deficiency also has dangers. He was prompted to initiate these reviews early in his medical career as a community pharmacist. Patients who came in to pick up their medication to lower their blood pressure would complain of rapid heartbeat, dizziness, and dehydration. In each case, the patient’s physician had recommended restricting salt intake. Dr. DiNicolantonio believed the symptoms sounded like sodium deficiency.

“Sure enough, when their doctors tested their sodium levels, they were very low,” DiNicolantonio said. “At that point, the doctor either stopped the medication or cut the dose in half, and the doctor would tell them to add salt back to their food.”

Over the last several decades, health experts have focused on the dangers of excessive salt. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, salt is “perhaps the deadliest ingredient in our food supply.”

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