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The “safe” way to eat salty snacks
Salt raises blood pressure…………..
This is not really a contentious issue. The question is, does it MATTER ?
Of course it does, if you’re salt sensitive.
An affliction that impacts around 25 % , of people in the West. These are folks, that thanks to bad body chemistry, struggle to compensate i.e. they don’t just seamlessly pee out the excess sodium.
But the story of salt, is complicated.
Sodium is an essential nutrient
And getting more complicated, as more is learned, about this precious white crystal.
That little sodium ion, runs a whole lot of chemistry. And for most of human history, it’s been a pretty rare commodity in the human diet.
Look at our language……..
Someone is worth there SALT.
And, you work for a SAL(T)-ary.
So back to salt and increasing blood pressure.
A salt rich meal
A salt rich meal, WILL push up your blood pressure, in direct proportion to the salt “overload”.
But is it “sodium’s” fault ?
This is was a group of researchers, wondered…….
Was TOO MUCH SALT the problem ? Or was TOO LITTLE WATER, the real issue ?
So they made a plan, to figure this out.
10 young ladies, visited their lab, on four separate occasions, for a bowl of lentil soup.
- On occasion 1 – they just had soup. This had a smidge of sodium (30 mg) and a dollop of potassium (790 mg), per 100 g.
- On occasion 2 – the soup, was loaded with an extra 3 g of sodium.
This would make most health authorities have a BIG wobbly. Official guidelines recommend less than 3 g of salt be consumed per day. 3 g in one meal. Howena ! South African for OMG !
- On occasion 3 – the salty soup, was still on the menu, but the ladies were asked to drink 500 ml of water, alongside it
- On occasion 4 – the salty soup, was accompanied by even MORE water, 750 ml to be precise.
The team kept tabs on blood pressure, alongside serum levels of sodium and a metabolite, called copeptin.
This is a break down product of the hormone known as vasopressin. This dude is a pituitary hormone, tasked with keeping tabs on blood “water levels”. The technical term for this, is osmolarity.
So let’s see what happened….
Salty soup DOES raise blood pressure
That salty soup sent the ladies blood pressure up, by a whopping 10 mm Hg.
Justifying why, high salt food is a NO NO !
But, adding “some” water overturned the problem. Here is the graph from the study …………
The black line is the original soup. The red line shows what happened, when the extra salt was added to the soup, but no extra water was consumed. The green line and blue lines, was what happened when 500 ml and 750 ml of water was consumed.
The biology on speed dial
Clearly a glass or two of water, SOLVES the blood pressure problem.
So why does it work ?
It “speeds up” the biology – allowing you to skip a few steps.
You see, that bowl full of salt, dumps a lot of sodium ions, into the blood – which, in the moment, “lowers” the “water concentration”.
Osmosis kicks in………….the water moves from the “tissues”, where it’s concentration is “higher”, into the blood.
But the more water IN, creates a little pressure in the pipes.
Because the pipes are a “fixed” diameter.
The effect is temporary…..
The salt is HANDLED
Sodium, like all the other groceries, is systematically put away………… so levels begin dropping.
But since 3 g of sodium, in one sitting is more than is NEEDED. A lot more.
This calls for plan B.
Aldosterone arranges for the excess sodium to be “eliminated” – but aldosterone is NOT “Mr Speedy”, something has to be done about the increased osmolatity, in the short term.
Vasopressin to the rescue
This is vasopressin’s job.
One of the ways it does this, is it prompts you, to drink SOMETHING.
And a glass or two of water, reverses the problem.
So the osmolarity of your blood, along with your blood pressure, returns to normal.
Manage the moment
This research shows………..when eating a salty meal.
You can go with the flow or you can take a pre-emptive approach.
Since the go with the flow option, will leave you with an elevated blood pressure reading – which if you’ve already got high blood pressure readings, when you’re NOT EATING, will leave you with a case of seriously BAD BODY CHEMISTRY.
Potentially putting you in danger.
So a pre-emptive approach is the way to go………..
In the pre-emptive approach
You don’t wait for the “I am thirsty” signal…………which may or may not come. And may or may not be heeded.
You turn on the tap and drink a glass or two of water, as you chow down on your salty snack.
It’s blood pressure management on speed dial.
Give it a try, if you’re worried about your blood pressure, but you’re not keen on following a low salt diet.
NOTE : You do need to use water. A beer or a sugar laden beverage, with those salty peanuts, won’t cut it. The goal is to load up with WATER !
A low salt diet causes insulin resistance in everyone. Granted in salt sensitive’s, it lowers blood pressure, but more insulin resistance is never heart healthy.
If you’re suffering from metabolic syndrome – maybe it is time to let the iron out and bring down your blood pressure by giving a little blood.
The louder the background noise, the more bland the food tastes. So try turning down the stereo if you want to eat less salt !