Is Salt Really All That Bad?

A pinch here or there may not be, especially for athletes who are sweating out their precious electrolytes.

But what about the average (sedentary) Joe who’s trying his best to go Paleo, and thinking it’s not such a big deal, because he’s got normal blood pressure?  All systems go?

Not quite.

Excessive sodium in the diet would certainly be contraindicated for someone with hypertension, but there are many other reasons we need to really pay attention to adding salt to our diet as it’s related to many other ill effects on our health above and beyond our blood pressure.

  • Cardiovascular Disease The Harvard School of Health published a study showing that too much salt is linked to cardiovascular disease. Blood pressure rises with increasing amounts of sodium in the diet, which raises the risk for cardiovascular disease and death rates over the long term.  They cite a recent study which found that “higher salt intake was associated with a 23 percent increase in stroke and a 14 percent increase in heart disease”.
  • Cancer The World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research concluded that higher intakes of salt, sodium, or salty foods is linked to an increase in stomach cancer.
  • Osteoporosis The more salt you take in, the more calcium your body flushes out in the urine. If calcium is in short supply, it can be leached out of the bones. So a diet high in sodium could have an additional unwanted effect—the bone-thinning disease known as osteoporosis.   (Important to note, too, that it is imperative that the calcium sources should be from foods which are alkaline in nature, like leafy greens, rather than dairy, which is so acid it has the same bone-leaching effect on our skeletons.)

In addition, consuming too much salt is also linked with poor sleep and kidney stones and asthma.

So how much salt should you allow?

Keep it simple and just skip it for the most part.   Follow the True Paleo diet (to reiterate- that’s sans salt) and let you body reap the rewards of the higher potassium, lower sodium nature of this natural way of eating.

By the way, don’t trick yourself into thinking sea salt  is a good option to use regularly; by weight, both table salt and sea salt have 2,325 mg sodium/teaspoon.