March 25th, 2013 06:00:00 am
Do You Think You Need To Give Up Salt due to High Blood Pressure?
There is a long going debate about salt and high blood pressure. I pulled the following information together to get an overall view of the situation… And of course, pleasedo your own research on this. I am not a doctor but this information might lead you to your own research and some valuable questions for your physician.
Ground breaking (western medicine) research, particularly that of Dr. John Laragh (MD) at the Hypertension center of NY Cornell Medical Center, shows that high blood pressure isn't really caused by salt intake levels but by an overactive hormone system further compounded by a diet poor in phytonutrient dense foods and essential fatty acids. In addition, it is caused by psychological (and even too much physical) stress.
When the hormonal system (including the HPA axis or thyroids) is overactive, renin levels rise, often abnormally. (Renin is a protein digesting enzyme that acts in raising blood pressure significantly). Next, body salt content becomes excessively reduced and excreted out... and sometimes salt starvation can occur and does in extremely stressed individuals and those suffering with severe stress and anxiety disorders. This can explain salt cravings that some people get (it's because they genuinely need salt). On the other hand, about 1/3 of hypertensive people, display low renin levels--and a sodium excess occurs. In this scenario, patients need to put immense focus on upping their intake of other electrolytes and foods that promote better fluid balance.
Similarly, we know that stress and anxiety alone can cause people's blood pressure to rise significantly to hypertension levels (that were previously normal). We know that chronic stressful life situations and events alter the firing of neuron pathways in the brain which activate the sympathetic nervous system which results in the HPA axis becoming overactive resulting in high levels of cortisol and adrenaline which can raise blood pressure significantly. We also know that well over 50% of American's have unhealthy stress levels. We also know that poor sleep raises blood pressure. We know that exercise is an effective cure for high blood pressure OR lowers current high blood pressure to lower levels. We know thanks to sleep research, many Americans are sleep deprived and that paying back sleep debt that has existed chronically lowers blood pressure. Some studies show that properly done meditation and relaxation causes up to a 8% reduction in blood pressure when done daily for over 4 weeks and we also know that the effects remain as long as relaxation or meditation is performed and often remain weeks after discontinuation.
So the conclusion is, the CAUSE is NOT salt intake, it's an overactive hormonal system and the treatment has nothing to do with lowering salt intake but increasing intake of phytonutrient dense foods along with EFA's, magnesium, potassium, calcium, l-arginine, vitamin B (folic acid), vitamin C, lean protein, CoQ10, psyllium, even vitamin D. Also lowering psychological stress is of absolute importance as many people's hormonal systems become overactive as a result of psychological stress and trauma.
Omega 3, l-arginine, magnesium, potassium, phytonutrient dense foods (like vegetables), and other herbs/supplements effectively lowers blood pressure... and when you add in herbs for combined synergy like hawthorn, grape seed extract, adaptogens, green tea, and garlic, you get an even further impressive reduction in blood pressure.
That said….All salts are NOT created equal….
Salt is often demonized by the health industry, but is this another case of health problems being blamed on a natural food because of its modern refined counterpart? The salt of yesteryear was a healthful, whole food, but today it’s been stripped and processed into a disaster waiting to happen. What began as an essential nutrient has been disfigured into a substance our bodies are not meant to use.
Salt has been given a bad reputation in recent years, so you might be surprised to hear:
What’s wrong with commercial table salt?
Processing, processing, processing… it’s no wonder refined commercial salt is causing so many health problems! Unfortunately, the key differences between refined salt and unrefined salt are not yet widely recognized, so the general assumption is that all salt is bad – which is definitely not the case.
What is good about Unrefined Sea Salt?
If you eat mostly home cooked food, then simply switching to unrefined sea salt at home will greatly reduce your intake of refined commercial salt.
However, packaged and processed foods are hidden sources of commercial salt. The more convenience food you buy, the more refined sodium will dominate your diet. Since packaged foods are often loaded with other unhealthy ingredients (like vegetable oils or refined sugars), it’s wise to steer clear of them whenever you can, anyway.
Be careful not to confuse so-called commercial sea salt with real sea salt (typically the stuff sitting on the shelf right next to refined salt), it’s also just refined salt. I personally prefer Celtic Sea Salt®, which has an excellent reputation, and we use it freely in our home. And I have to say it’s hard to go back to refined table salt after tasting the real stuff. It just has this really full-bodied flavor that one-dimensional commercial salt can’t touch.
On a side note: although unrefined sea salt can be considered a health food, it should still be used with wisdom and moderation. Excessive salt consumption is not healthy for anyone, and certain individuals may be more sensitive to sodium than others.
Some quotes from their product site include:
The Only Doctor Recommended Sea Salt
"Many illnesses are caused or exacerbated by trace-mineral deficiencies. These can be avoided by the liberal use of Celtic Sea Salt® in your cooking and the complete avoidance of other salts, all of which contain only pure sodium chloride."
- Dr. Thomas S. Cowan, M.D.
The Original Brand™ is the most trusted brand. Celtic Sea Salt® Brand is referenced in more culinary and nutritional books and journals than any other salt in the world.
Salt and high blood pressure may or may not be linked. What do you think?
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