Mother nature can handle salt

Most of the time the anti-salt movement is worried about how salt consumption leads to an increase in blood pressure which ultimately puts you at risk of cardiovascular disease.

Salt does cause the blood pressure to rise but mother nature is quite capable of “handling” this rise.  A sophisticated regulatory system gets rid of the extra salt and returns blood pressure to normal.

Today’s blog post is a fun lesson on the basics of the  physiology of salt.  The star player in salt regulation is a hormone called aldosterone. 

The ”temporary” rise in blood pressure

What happens when you eat a salty meal.  The sodium is absorbed into the blood stream making your blood a little more salty.  

One of the first concepts they teach you in high school biology is osmosis. 

Let me paraphrase the definition ……….water moves from a “high concentration” to a “low concentration” until the “water concentration” is balanced.   So if  there is a lot of sodium in the blood, water will be moving into the blood from the cells to restore the balance.

The extra water coming into the blood vessels can create a problem because the pipes (blood vessels) have a fixed carrying capacity.  Extra water in the pipes has nowhere to go and so the pressure in the system rises.

salt causes blood pressure to rise

In most people, the problem is really just temporary because the body carefully regulates the amount of salt.  

aldosterone keeping salt inAldosterone – working hard

Sodium if very important because “the electricity” in your body relies on sodium ions moving in and out of cells.   Both your heart and your brain depend on bioelectricity to function.  Aldosterone is the chemical tasked with regulating the amount of salt kept by the body so that adequate bioelectricity can be generated.

When there is a shortage of sodium, aldosterone has to work hard at keeping the sodium inside your body.  It does this by closing the “sodium valves” in the kidney. 

aldosterone letting excess salt out

 Aldosterone – taking a break

The extra sodium means that aldosterone can take a break from controlling the “sodium valves” in the kidney.    As it takes a break, the sodium can slip out of the open valves.

As the extra salt is excreted, water follows (osmosis again), so the volume of blood decreases and the pressure in the pipes returns to normal.

 

Blood pressure returns to normal……………….

blood pressure returns to normal when salt is eliminated

So why the big fuss over salt consumption – it makes food taste good !

Regulation can be disrupted

In some people this regulatory process is defective – it is these people, who suffer from salt sensitive hypertension.  

Sometimes the dysfunction is genetic but more often than not, it is the belly fat disrupting the hormones that drives the problem.

Unfortunately, figuring out if your regulatory process is defective can’t be done through a simple blood test, just yet (it is being developed).  If cutting sodium, just in case, feels like too big a sacrifice, then  you need to do some serious dietary experiments to find out your status.

Of course, if you are already a hefa lump with high blood pressure  – the odds are high that the sophisticated regulatory system is not functioning optimally, so it probably would be wise to err on the side of caution.   In addition to counting calories, counting sodium might be prudent.

Anti-salt campaigners have got it wrong

Salt is not inducing blood pressure spikes but it is  inducing belly bulges.   Barrels of fat cause major disruptions in several regulatory systems, which brings on high blood pressure and down the road cardiovascular disease.

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Further reading

supertasters 
10 heart

sausage punching heart

 Salt addiction is triggered by supersensitive taste buds 10 “foods”  that scientists say lower your blood pressure  Sausages beat up your heart but steak is heart neutral 

The 7 Big Spoons™…. are master switches that turn health on.

balance eicosanoids rein in insulin dial down stress sleep vitamin D microflora think
Balance Eicosanoids Rein in insulin Dial down stress Sleep ! Increase Vit D Culivate microflora Think champion

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