Flawed Data Leads to Dangerously Flawed Conclusions

- Apr• 16•14

extra-saltThe idea that we need more sodium than what is naturally contained in our food is a myth. The fact is that we get plenty of sodium in food naturally. Not only do we not need to add extra salt to our diets, our bodies are not built to handle extra salt.

Dr. Lewis K. Dahl, who has done more animal experimentation on this subject than anybody else said that “adding salt to our food is not physiologic”, meaning that our kidneys are not designed to handle all this excess salt. And yet from the time we stop breast feeding and start eating solid food, we’re fed salt-laden fare. Even processed baby food contains added salt.

Dr. Dahl, whose animal experiments are still the source of a number of blood pressure pills currently in use today, noted that if you keep adding salt to your food, after some 30 years your kidneys won’t be able to compensate for that imbalance. That is the reason most of the salt users develop high blood pressure, which is usually recognized when they hit their fifties.

No wonder the American Health Association refused to adjust their guidelines despite the media hubbub around a recently released study that simply recapped prior salt-related research. “The new study relied on flawed data and should not change the way anyone looks at sodium,” the AHA asserted in its April 1, 2014 blog post.

So why has the media jumped on what is clearly old, bad news? Two reasons:

  • People crave permission to indulge their salt habit.
  • The salt industry, which sells 1.5 million tons of salt in the U.S. alone, makes a point of keeping the salt controversy alive.

Who are the deep pockets contributing to this well-oiled and well-funded PR effort? As always, let’s look at who profits from our consumption of salt.

  • The food and beverage industry sells billions of dollars’ worth of salty products.
  • The drug and medical equipment manufacturing industry sell services and products worth billions of dollars to treat the consequences of our salt habit.

As early as 2002, Dr. Jeremiah Stamler and many others cautioned that stirring up any notion of controversy in regarding the dangers of consuming salt would prove deadly to millions of individuals. He wrote:

Ignoring the overwhelming scientific consensus on this issue…[is] supportive of positions adapted by special interests and come at the expense of public health.

In addition he said that:

Efforts to promote the idea that there is scientifically grounded controversy in this area—as in the area of tobacco and disease—are scientifically unsound and detrimental to health…with faulted methodological thrust involving a heterogeneous mix of errors and omissions.

The bottom line: There is no physiological need for us humans to actually add salt to our food. How much added salt you can get away with depends upon who you are.  Are you a Black American or a Caucasian who is salt sensitive? (You may not know the latter until it’s too late.) Do you already have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart failure stroke or blocked arteries? How much has your salt tolerance decreased as you’ve gotten older?

You may not have all the answers to these and other questions required to help set your safety limit when it comes to salt. On the other hand, you don’t want to wait until get some these incurable diseases to begin decreasing your salt intake.

So be smart. Work on getting adjusted to less salt. You will very likely actually love your food without salt. You will certainly be better for it, because salt kills. That’s a fact.

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