We’ve all heard about the dangers of eating too much salt. Too much salt gives us high blood pressure, and high blood pressure increases the risk of heart failure or stroke. The solution? Eat less salt.
Well, it turns out that might not be the only solution.
When you eat salt, the concentration of salt goes up in your blood first, and serum osmolality (the concentration of a solution expressed as the total number of solute particles per kilogram) goes up. This can lead to an acute increase in blood pressure.
The professor of nephrology (disease of the kidney) at the University of Colorado and one of the leading experts in fructose, Rick Johnson M.D, has stated that it not the amount of salt we eat that is the problem, but the concentration. Meaning, that provided we keep our serum osmolality in check by drinking enough water with our meals, we can avoid the sharp increase in blood pressure. The more water, the lower the salt concentration.
So how much water should we drink?
Luckily Dr Johnson has published a study to help us answer that question. The study had that participants eating 3 grams of salt mixed in 300ml of lentil soup with AND without a bottle of water of between 500ml-750ml (it was a lot more complex than that, but I’m dumbing down for the sake of the post). Drinking this amount of water along with the meal managed to blunt the increase of blood pressure as compared with having the salt soup without any water.
So I think they key take away for this is if you don’t drink much water and you enjoy a lot of salt…drink water along with your meals! It also worth reflecting that the study was focused on acute or short term increases in blood pressure, and not the long term effects of salt on blood pressure.
As an interesting way to close this post, it worth mentioning that a recent book published in 2017 entitled ‘the salt fix’ cause a lot of controversy, as the author argues against being so cautious about salt intake and that it actually saves lives. I’ve added it to my audible shopping list!