It seems even the scientific community gets bored. Two studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine are questioning the idea behind low salt-intake. Researchers are claiming that consuming too little salt is actually harmful to your health. There is actually a sweet spot for sodium intake. So sit back, and watch the salt shakers fly.
Dr. Salim Yusuf, a lead author of one of the studies and a cardiologist at McMaster University spoke on his findings. “The right level of sodium in not zero. You need a certain amount for the cells to function, and for the body to function.” He went further to say that lower salt intake can cause heart attacks and strokes, harm kidneys and lower blood pressure.
His recommendation? People should consume between 6 and 7 grams of sodium. That happens to run counter to Health Canada’s guideline of 1.5 grams. Hypertension Canada says the max intake should be no more than 2 grams.
The study authors are pushing for these guidelines to be revised and new randomized controlled trials to begin on salt intake. Already, the criticism is flying by scientists who say it is sending the wrong message and the research is flawed.
Dr. Norm Campbell spoke to CTV News on Wednesday about the study. “Controversy sells,” Dr. Norm Campbell of the University of Calgary told CTV News on Wednesday. “It delays necessary public-health efforts, and endangers the lives, probably, of millions of people globally.”
He went further in his criticism, saying that the study could have corporate interests, much like the tobacco studies in the past that were used to turn public opinion. That’s a serious allegation against both the doctors and journal where the studies were published.
Dr. Campbell also said the measurements used in the research were wrong. Both studies focused on sodium measurements from a single urine test.
With two pro-salt papers, the New England Journal of Medicine published a paper funded by the Gates Foundation. It examined the effects of sodium across the world. It found that the majority of people were exceeding the recommended sodium intake by nearly 100 percent. This places a massive burden of health facilities in the developing world.
What is the takeaway from all this? Eat healthy. This isn’t carte blanche to have your food looking like it went through a blizzard of salt. Be smart, and eat a healthy diet. There’s never going to be a study that smacks down the benefits of eating healthy. No, the extra-large bag of chips is not included in this diet.