What happens when we don’t consume enough salt?
Low-sodium diets can contribute to many health problems, including hypertension, heart disease, high cholesterol, insulin resistance, acidity in the body, adrenal exhaustion, nervous system dysfunction, hyponatremia, thyroid disease, and bromine toxicity.
Hypertension, Heart disease, and High cholesterol:
Research shows the opposite of what we have been told. In a study of nearly 3,000 hypertensive people, the men who had the lowest sodium levels had a 430% higher incidence of heart attacks than those with the highest sodium levels. Why would this be? Dr. Brownstein explains that low-sodium diets lead to multiple nutrient deficiencies—like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and B-vitamins—which are crucial for maintaining heart health.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), conducted by the U.S. government every 10 years, confirms this. NHANES I (1971-73) found that potassium and calcium deficiencies were the best predictor of hypertension. The study also found that low-sodium diets, rather than high-sodium, were associated with higher blood pressure.
NHANES III (1988-1994) and NHANES IV (2001-2002) also found that hypertensive people tended to be deficient in magnesium, calcium, and potassium. And like NHANES I, these two studies found that low-sodium diets were associated with high blood pressure. The researchers concluded that the best predictor of high blood pressure was inadequate mineral intake.
A 2003 review and a 2011 study found that low-sodium diets actually increased LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides, both of which increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Dr. Brownstein explains that a low-salt diet stimulates the kidneys to retain more sodium. This increases levels of certain hormones, which in turn stimulate the sympathetic nervous system. If the sympathetic nervous system becomes overstimulated (stressed) it can trigger a cardiac event.