“His blood pressure is very high,” complained a new nursing student to a kidney specialist (nephrologist) colleague while we were making rounds the other day. Before he or I could answer, the nurse in charge quickly replied, “What do you expect? He is a Black American. His blood pressure lives at that level.” The nephrologist and I simply nodded in resignation.
Anybody and everybody who works in the medical field understands how severe high blood pressure devastates Black America. It’s common knowledge. Sufficient evidence now exists to link this devastating problem to salt sensitivity.
Although Black Americans are particularly salt sensitive, salt sensitivity is not a Black American problem. I encounter every day of the week among medical professionals, not to mention patients, who are salt sensitive and don’t know it.
As you can see in the attached video, sometimes salt sensitivity is very obvious. If you are one those who bloat up like a toad after a single salty meal, you are salt sensitive regardless of your ethnicity or heritage. If you know that you are salt sensitive, you should meticulously avoid adding any salt to your food and consuming foods that have added salt.
A word of caution! Salt sensitivity may not always be so easy to recognize, but the lack of obvious reactions to salt doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. As we know, the great majority of Black Americans are salt sensitive, but so are about one third of all Caucasians. While data on other ethnic groups is less well established, it is always best to assume that you are salt sensitive and to avoid salt as much as possible—especially since all too often people discover that they have this condition too late to significantly improve their health. To play it safe, check out my blog post about the American Heart Association’s “salty six” to see the most common unrecognized sources of excess salt.