Hypertension, more commonly known as blood pressure, is a serious and surprisingly widespread conditions, with CDC figures estimating nearly one in three U.S. adults suffer from it. Much of the blame, according to dietitians and scientists alike, is the salt-heavy diets popular in western countries. While conventional advice has been to limit sodium intake to between 1500 to 2300 mg per day depending on individual sensitivity, a new book from New York scientist James DiNicolantonio advocates a very different position on the matter.
DiNicolantonio’s new book The Salt Fix challenges conventional wisdom from the likes of the World Health Organisation, as well as the United States’ and United Kingdom’s respective health and wellness boards, by not only advocating the necessity of sodium in a balanced diet, but also identifying numerous health benefits he purports the mineral to offer. His contention is that most individuals need more salt, not less.
According to the American scientist’s argument, increasing salt intake promotes weight loss and helps reduce the presence of unhealthy sugars. His book further claims that too little salt leads to a host of conditions ranging from memory loss to weak and brittle bones, even going so far as to claim a high-salt diet could mitigate diabetes. The true “white death,” according to DiNicolantonio, is sugar, which he claims can cause high blood pressure, kidney failure, and other serious conditions.
James DiNicolantonio’s advice to eat a high-salt diet has raised significant opposition from scientists and health experts, with some outright condemning the book’s message as dangerous misinformation. Public Health England warned that his proposed dietary changes posed serious health risks, especially for patients with a sensitivity to sodium, a condition that causes these individuals to experience blood pressure spikes when consuming excess salt.
The U.S., U.K., and other countries have devoted significant effort to promoting and enforcing reduced salt content in canned goods and fast food meals, along with educational campaigns to warn the public about the risks of high salt consumption. Health authorities in U.K. claim the recent drop in heart-related deaths is a direct result of this effort, and view the allegedly dubious claims presented in DiNicolantonio’s book as a major step in the wrong direction.
For his part, DiNicolantonio claims that the relationship between high sodium intake and heart conditions only occurs in a minority of patients. Therefore, advocating lower salt intake for everyone is an irresponsible, unmeasured response to a minority problem. In the end, while the claims made in The Salt Fix are interesting food for thought, research and opinion to the contrary is hardly lacking.