Research Proves Sodium-Heart Disease Connection Wrong
Multiple studies have now proved that the sodium advice given to patients by doctors for decades regarding sodium has been wrong.
In a study by hundreds of international scientists, 156,424 people were tested from 628 cities and villages in Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, India, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, Poland, South Africa, Sweden, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Zimbabwe.
The scientists measured urinary sodium and potassium levels among 101,945 of these people by sampling urine in the morning before breakfast. These samples were compared with their medical history.
The researchers focused upon any history of cardiovascular disease and death among the subjects. This found correlations between their sodium and potassium levels and their history of heart disease. They also followed the test subjects for an average of 3.7 years after the urine samples were taken. Cancer and other known predictors of heart disease and death were eliminated and accounted for.
The results indicated that consuming less than 3,000 milligrams of sodium per day was associated with a 27 percent increase in cardiovascular disease and death.
Consuming between 3,000 milligrams and 6,000 milligrams of sodium a day was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and death, while more than 6,000 milligrams per day was associated with a 15 percent increase in cardiovascular disease and mortality. Consuming more than 7,000 milligrams was associated with significant increased risk.
Current guidelines limit safe sodium consumption to 1,500 milligrams for those over 50, and less than 2,300 milligrams for those 50 or younger.
Yet this large study indicates that consuming between 3,000 and 6,000 milligrams of sodium per day decreases ones risk of heart conditions and death while consuming less than 3,000 and more than 6,000 increases risk.
This is confirmed by previous research
Research from University of California confirms that conventional medicine’s assumption of salt intake outside a certain range being a cause of hypertension and heart disease has been wrong.
The new research, a compilation of clinical studies that piggybacked onto a 2009 study done at UC-Davis, which accumulated numerous studies including 19,151 human subjects who were tested for their 24-hour urinary sodium excretion rates.
This study also accumulated an additional 129 studies, which included 50,060 human subjects, again being tested for their 24-hour sodium excretion rates. The research also gauged sodium intake together with excretion rates.
This study analyzed the sodium intake and hypertension, along with heart conditions in general.
This research determined that healthy sodium consumption ranges from 2,622 to 4,840 milligrams per day. The upper level of this range is nearly twice the range recommended by current medical guidelines – with safe levels being defined as 1,500 to 2,500 milligrams of sodium (salt) per day.
This study also took the air out of the assumption that hypertension risk is increased with higher intakes of sodium in the diet.
Rather, the research has determined that the body self-adjusts and regulates to ones sodium intake – assuming ranges as mentioned above – yielding healthy blood levels. This regulation takes place through the excretion of sodium outside of healthy levels.
Other Sodium Falsehoods Determined
The researchers also identified several other falsehoods regarding the assumptions between salt intake and heart disease/hypertension, as stated in the American Journal of Hypertension:
“No consistent data had appeared in the scientific literature specifically demonstrating that lower sodium intake was associated with a reduction in either all-cause or CVD mortality.”
They also stated that even though it was assumed that because many consumer products had reformulated with lower salt levels,
“There was no evidence that sodium intake was declining in the United States.”
This meant that the assumptions that hypertension rates were slowing because of changes in sodium assumption were wrong. The researchers went on to describe how studies that were supposed to have shown how reducing sodium intake reduces the risk of hypertension and heart disease actually did not result in sodium intakes at the targeted levels.
This is because the body maintains its internal sodium levels by increasing what the researchers call “sodium appetite.” When the body senses its sodium levels are too low, it will engage the person to seek foods with higher sodium levels in order to accomplish enough sodium.
Then, if too much sodium is consumed, the body will automatically adjust its internal sodium levels by excreting sodium in the urine. The mechanism the body uses is the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system to balance sodium levels.
Decades of research proved this was true for animals. Western medicine thought humans were an exception to this principle.
In fact, recent studies, such as one from Albert Einstein School of Medicine last year (more than 360,000 human subjects), and another from Canada’s McMaster University (4,729 human subjects) – have determined that sodium levels less than 2,500 milligrams per day and 3,000 milligrams per day (respectively) actually increased the rate of cardiovascular disease.
And the upper levels of these studies – levels above which increased the rate of heart disease – were above 6,000 and 7,000 milligrams a day respectively.
The bottom line of this research is that the study of salt and cardiovascular disease has been wrought with assumption and miscalculation. This has actually resulted in endangering the lives of those who have taken the recommendations to cut salt out of the diet.
What about mineral balance?
The reality is, modern salt is not a healthy dietary agent. Modern vacuum-evaporated salt contains numerous chemical additives such as tricalcium phosphate, silica dioxide, sodium ferrocyanide, ferric ammonium citrate and/or sodium silico-aluminate.
Worse, modern salt (even many “sea salts”) have been “purified” through separation, resulting in the removal of nature’s balance of minerals that are important co-factors for sodium consumption. These include potassium, calcium, magnesium and many trace elements that are naturally present in salt extracted from mines or even sea water, and necessary in our diet.
The most dangerous thing about this modern salt is the imbalance that it can create among our other minerals: Consuming too much of one mineral and not enough of others creates imbalances throughout our tissues.
And this research illustrates that while the body may adjust for the over-consumption of sodium, the under-consumption of important minerals like sodium, potassium, magnesium and many others is more lethal to our heart, blood vessels and other tissues.
O’Donnell M, Mente A, Rangarajan S, McQueen MJ, Wang X, Liu L, Yan H, Lee SF, Mony P, Devanath A, Rosengren A, Lopez-Jaramillo P, Diaz R, Avezum A, Lanas F, Yusoff K, Iqbal R, Ilow R, Mohammadifard N, Gulec S, Yusufali AH, Kruger L, Yusuf R, Chifamba J, Kabali C, Dagenais G, Lear SA, Teo K, Yusuf S; PURE Investigators. Urinary sodium and potassium excretion, mortality, and cardiovascular events. N Engl J Med. 2014 Aug 14;371(7):612-23. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1311889.
McCarron DA, Kazaks AG, Geerling JC, Stern JS, Graudal NA. Normal range of human dietary sodium intake: a perspective based on 24-hour urinary sodium excretion worldwide. Am J Hypertens. 2013 Oct;26(10):1218-23. doi:10.1093/ajh/hpt139.
Alderman MH, Cohen HW. Dietary sodium intake and cardiovascular mortality: controversy resolved? Am J Hypertens. 2012 Jul;25(7):727-34. doi:10.1038/ajh.2012.52.
O’Donnell MJ, Yusuf S, Mente A, Gao P, Mann JF, Teo K, McQueen M, Sleight P, Sharma AM, Dans A, Probstfield J, Schmieder RE. Urinary sodium and potassium excretion and risk of cardiovascular events. JAMA. 2011 Nov 23;306(20):2229-38. doi: 10.1001/jama.2011.1729.
Case Adams is a California Naturopath with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies. “My journey into writing about alternative medicine began about 9:30 one evening after I finished with a patient at the clinic I practiced at over a decade ago. I had just spent the last two hours explaining how diet, sleep and other lifestyle choices create health problems and how changes in these, along with certain herbal medicines and other natural strategies can radically yet safely turn our health around. As I drove home that night, I realized this knowledge should be available to more people. So I began writing about health with a mission to reach those who desperately need this information. The strategies in my books and articles are backed by scientific evidence along with wisdom handed down through traditional medicines for thousands of years.” Case connects with nature by surfing, hiking, running, biking and according to Dad, being a total beach bum.