Popular Health Advice Speeds Up Aging
Many men have been advised to restrict their salt intake. Unfortunately, the usual advice is dangerous. And as we’ll see today, it can speed up the aging process.
In today’s article I’m going to share with you why salt restriction can cause more harm than good. I’ll also tell you what to do instead to get the benefits of salt restriction without the harmful effects - and without having to restrict salt.
Salt Of Life
Did you know that each of us carries around a miniature ocean in our bodies? Human blood contains as much salt as does ocean water. And that salt is essential to life. It is so important that major changes in that concentration can cause death.
Every minute of every day your kidneys are keeping tight control over how much salt is in your blood. They ensure that the levels stay just right in order to keep you healthy. So if you eat a little bit of extra salt, your kidneys excrete a little bit extra. And if you eat a little bit less than usual, your kidneys hold on to a little bit more than usual. This way, a balance is maintained.
Unfortunately, if you eat too little salt, your kidneys have a hard time keeping the balance. And so as a result, they have to rely on backup systems to keep salt levels from plummeting and killing you. While it is a good thing that you have such backup systems, the downside of relying upon them is that they speed up the rate of aging.
Harmful Effects Of Salt Restriction
While it is true that too much salt can have harmful effects, that amount needed is quite large. Research shows that between 3 and 6 grams of sodium, which is between 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of salt per day is the ideal range. The average American man is eating 3.4 grams of sodium per day. That means you’re not likely to be eating too much.
However, many organizations recommend restricting sodium intake to as low as 1.5 grams per day. And research clearly shows that such restrictions are harmful.
When restricting sodium intake below 3 grams per day, here’s what can happen:
- The body starts to hold on to cortisol. As a result insulin resistance can develop. In fact, salt restriction has been proven to be able to cause insulin resistance. That means high blood sugar and over time that could lead to heart damage.
- Studies show that salt restriction increases the levels of a stress hormone called norepinephrine. As a result, men who restrict salt can feel irritable and on edge. That is because of underlying stress in the body. Over time that can harm health. It can lead to cognitive decline and dementia.
- Salt restriction increases other hormones that interfere with sleep. Therefore, long term salt restriction can produce insomnia and reduce the quality of sleep. Because sleep is so important for so many processes, even small reductions in sleep can greatly increase the risk of developing heart disease, cancer, and other conditions.
The bottom line is that salt restriction has been clearly linked to speeding up the aging process.
So why do so many organizations and doctors still recommend it?
Salt Restriction Doesn’t Help
The reason why salt restriction is popular is because it is said that limiting salt can reduce hypertension. While it’s a nice idea and a simple message, it typically doesn’t work. Healthcare professionals know that only a minority of men experience reductions in blood pressure when restricting salt. The rest do not. And those that do experience reductions typically only experience modest benefits.
Ironically, reducing hypertension is supposed to improve heart health. However, even when salt restriction results in modest decreases in blood pressure, it doesn’t improve heart health. In fact, if done long enough, salt restriction can actually increase the risk of heart disease.
As I have told you in previous articles, the theory that excess salt causes hypertension is based on some bad evidence. In fact, the primary cause of hypertension is high levels of stress. Ongoing stress can both increase blood volume and constrict the blood vessels - the two causes of hypertension.
So rather than restricting salt, a better solution in most cases is to practice effective stress relief techniques. That is why walking, meditation, and relaxation have all been proven to be far more effective at controlling high blood pressure than salt restriction.
And while it is true that dietary salt can have modest influences on blood volume, what really matters is the ratio of potassium to sodium. If potassium intake is too low then restricting salt can improve the potassium to sodium ratio. However, then the person just has two deficiencies. A better solution is to eat enough salt and enough potassium-rich foods. Foods high in potassium include fruits, vegetables, and dairy.
A Simple Plan For Success
Although most organizations and doctors claim otherwise, only you know how much salt you actually need. And the simple and reliable gauge is taste. Salt your food to taste. Not more, not less. That will make eating enjoyable and healthy.
Then, in addition, be sure to practice things that relieve stress for you. I suggest that taking regular breaks to go for short walks, getting out in the sun, regular physical relaxation, and having hobbies that you enjoy are excellent ways to keep your stress levels in check.
Together with that, eat more fruits and vegetables as well as dairy. These potassium-rich foods will ensure that you are getting enough of this important nutrient.
Do these things, and you can enjoy good health for life.