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Think You Need to Cut Out the Salt? The Sodium and Potassium Connection

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For years salt was demonized for creating high blood pressure and heart issues. But is that really the case? Or was it because we are eating highly processed salt and sodium chemicals like MSG that our body did not know how to process. We all know too much highly processed salt is bad for us, but what about high-quality sea salt and Himalayan salt? Do we really need to cut out the salt?

Salt intake above 2,000mg per day is associated with high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for kidney disease and cardiovascular disease (such as heart disease and stroke). However, not all studies agree that salt leads to hypertension.

When I think back to my teenage years when my grandfather, who had high blood pressure, used a replacement “salt” that was not really salt, I am not sure what this stuff was, but it was terrible! He used to sneak it into my food, and I could always tell. He really believed that he needed to cut all salt out! But then he also used to eat out in restaurants and eat packaged foods, which completely defeats the purpose.

I would announce it indignantly that he used the fake salt, and he would retort, “There is no way you can tell!” Mind over matter, he swore no one could tell the difference, including him. WRONG! And guess what? We need salt! And I didn’t think I needed to cut salt out of my diet anyway. I was 16!

All I can tell you are my personal experiences. You will have to do your own research to determine how it will affect you, but I think salt is getting a bad rap these days. Of course, if you have a medical condition, please listen to your doctor. But for me? Cutting out salt is not an option! Eating a whole foods diet is the key.

Do they REALLY know that salt is the culprit? From what I have read, no. You can read about it here. I am not so sure we should be cutting out the salt! What I do know is that we should be cutting out sodium products that are in processed foods. Americans certainly do not need additional salt in their diet due to eating foods laced with sodium preservatives. I will argue though that we need better quality salt to help regulate the minerals in our bodies.

What Is Salt?

People are questioning conventional wisdom concerning cutting salt and high blood pressure.

  • The salt compound is a crystalline mineral made of two elements, sodium (Na) and chlorine (Cl).
  • Salt is necessary for the body to function.
  • Salt gets a bad rap because water follows salt, which can cause swelling. Reducing salt does lower blood pressure in many people. Water follows salt. This is where swelling comes from when you have too much.

The vast majority of sodium in the Western diet comes from processed foods. If you eat mostly whole, unprocessed foods, you don’t need to worry about adding some salt to your meals.

So what is the difference?

The processing. According to some reports, Himalayan and Sea Salt have a higher mineral count and are lower in sodium. Most claim it is not enough to make a difference.

Iodine is added to table salt, and this is VERY important. I choose to eat iodine-rich foods like eggs and seaweed, and I have cut the white iodized table salt. I also supplement iodine. When you are deficient in iodine, it is responsible for many thyroid-related issues and is a real health concern.

Years ago, I started eliminating all packaged food. Meaning it was processed and packaged with additional ingredients. This is important. Even your taco seasoning probably has MSG in it.

I avoid all types of processed packaged food because food manufacturers need to use processed salt for preservation. This, in turn, also means your food has already lost precious mineral content because of its long shelf life. That is another story, and this is just about salt.

An Imbalance of Salt and Potassium

The Lancet report utilizes data from the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology study, involving 168,000 adults, age 35-70, in 664 global urban and rural communities, representing low, middle, and high-income countries. Community aggregated potassium intake demonstrated an inverse relationship.

Potassium appeared protective from cardiovascular events. And in some instances, increased sodium intake resulted in fewer cardiovascular events.

We can interpret the findings of potassium in one of two ways. To those connecting dots directly, potassium exerts a protective effect, and we should set recommended daily minimum requirements. But for those who are a bit freer in their linkages, note that potassium is found in no small measure in fruits and vegetables, in which case potassium may well be a marker for a better diet rather than a protective agent.”

Why Sodium and Potassium Matter To Each Other

Sodium and potassium are closely intertwined, but they have the opposite effect on your body. They are both essential nutrients that play key roles in maintaining balance, and both have been linked to the risk of chronic diseases, especially cardiovascular disease. High salt intake increases blood pressure, leading to heart disease, while high potassium intake can help relax blood vessels and excrete sodium while decreasing blood pressure. Our bodies need far more potassium than sodium each day. Still, the typical U.S. diet is just the opposite: Americans average about 3,300 milligrams of sodium per day, about 75% of which comes from processed foods, while only getting about 2,900 milligrams of potassium each day.

A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that:

  • People who ate high-sodium, low-potassium diets had a higher risk of dying from a heart attack or any cause. In this study, people with the highest sodium intakes had a 20% higher risk of death from any cause than people with the lowest sodium intakes. People with the highest potassium intakes had a 20% lower risk of dying than people with the lowest intakes. But what may be even more important for health is the relationship of sodium to potassium in the diet. People with the highest ratio of sodium to potassium in their diets had double the risk of dying of a heart attack than people with the lowest ratio, and they had a 50% higher risk of death from any cause.
  • People can make a key dietary change to help lower their risk: Eat more fresh vegetables and fruits, which are naturally high in potassium and low in sodium, but eat less bread, cheese, processed meat, and other processed foods that are high in sodium and low in potassium.

Here is what I found.

We do not need that much sodium, but we do need a lot of potassium. If you are eating frozen products or at restaurants that ship in pre-made products, usually the large corporate ones, or use spices loaded with MSG, then you will be getting too much sodium. Think dressings, soda, yes even club soda and sauces.

The restaurants ship these in from a co-packer. They are not made fresh with whole ingredients, so how do they preserve them? You guessed it, salt. Those are your main culprits. We try to eat at locally owned chef-run kitchens to avoid getting these types of processed foods.

I started taking a 1/4 teaspoon of high-quality, minimally processed sea salt in the morning and parking it under my tongue. I tried it when I had a headache, and the headache happened to go away. All of a sudden, I felt better and had more energy. This happened over and over again. I told my husband to do it for his tinnitus. After reading about the condition, it is believed to be caused by mineral imbalances or dehydration.

He started drinking 90oz. of purified water per day and taking a 1/4 tsp of sea salt three times per day. You know what? IT WORKED! He is no longer yelling stories at me because he can not hear over the crickets in his head and his leg cramps are gone. Yes, a lot of it is the water but when he quits doing the salt it comes back even though he is drinking his water. He takes some salt and voila it goes away.

My only best guess based on how we feel? We eliminated the bad salt so we were deficient! We needed to add back in good salt.

If you want to add good salt then you must take away the bad salt.

The bottom line we are inundated with overly processed salt that are overloading our bodies.

Look at your spice cabinet. Everything I had was a blend that is full of gluten and processed salt. Cajun seasoning, taco seasoning, steak seasoning, lemon pepper. Yes, this is where I found out Yeast Extract was the new fancy name for MSG. Toss it and make your own seasoning blend or just add them in layers on your meats and veggies.

Staples in my kitchen are Sea Salt, Cracked Pepper, and Organic Garlic both dried and fresh. The second most used are Rosemary, Cayenne Pepper, Cinnamon, and Nutmeg. I try to keep all of my spices organic.

Grow your own herbs. Dried herbs are great but so are fresh ones. I love fresh chives or scallion in my sour cream. Fresh dill on your deviled eggs makes all the difference in presenting a unique deviled egg. There is nothing better than going out to pick your organic basil for your organic tomato sauce. It is healthy and far less expensive than purchasing jarred sauce.

Next is to learn to use citrus as a flavor. I love to cook with both lemon and lime. Low in sugar, they bring a lot of flavor to the table without the bad stuff. I will pickle my onions with lime and cook my chicken in fresh organic lemon juice. YUM!

As always, read the ingredients.

Corporate America is trying to rectify this by using sea salt in our products. I see it more and more every day.

Start experimenting with new flavors. Start small in small doses. Learn how to cook rather than heating up!

Check out our article on the Adrenal Cocktail to find an easy way to get the salt and potassium you need in your diet!

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*Statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Always consult a licensed health care professional before starting any supplement or nutraceutical. Especially if you are pregnant or have any pre-existing medical conditions. Individual results may vary.

Source: Salt and Sodium; ASCH.org;

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Tricia worked in the financial services industry for over 20 years before deciding to divorce the corporate world in 2018. Tricia retired early so she could travel with her husband Jack (the Boomer) and Bo, their German Shepherd. They enjoy finding new experiences together and spending time with their family.

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