They’re both SALTY.
Seriously, did you know, buried just beneath the surface of the skin, is a layer of SALT ?
Yup, the human body has a permanent stash of salt, buried just below the skin surface.
It probably doesn’t come as a big surprise, this sodium store has been implicated in hypertension.
We all have it.
Some of us have more, than others. And yes, the exact amount of salt under your skin, is impacted by how much salt is in your diet.
But why is it there ?
It seems highly unlikely Mother Nature specifically packs lots of sodium chloride under our skin, to give us high blood pressure.
A unearthing the salt layer
A group of German researchers probed the possible benefits of this salt stash.
The team knew, the stash was accumulating, thanks to the activities of the keratinocytes (skin cells). These cells actively pump sodium into the fluid layer, just below the epidermis – making it salty.
Since salt is added to foods, to lower their water content and thus discourage microbial growth, the team suspected that the layer of salt, buried beneath the skin, might be playing a similar role. High salt levels, would make the skin less hospitable, stopping potential skin invaders from moving in and/or encouraging them, to MOVE OUT.
To test their theory, they studied salt levels in both a human and a mouse, infected with Leishmania major, a parasite which infects skin.
A salty barrier
The team used a 23Na magnetic resonance spectrogram, which is a non-invasive technology that can track skin salt levels under the skin. They found that the presence of the parasite, bumped up the salt levels. And, when the infection resolved, the levels returned to normal.
Suggesting that the extra salt, was part of the immune response.
Macrophages like it salty
Working in the lab, they confirmed that when immune cells are dipped in salt, they get feisty.
Specifically, the salted macrophages pumped out, more nitric oxide, which turns them into “killing” machines.
Putting it all together…
Salt as a medicine
The team wanted to test out their theory, that salt keeps skin invaders OUT, so once again they infected mice with Leishmania. This time, they divided the mice into two groups.
- Group 1 – was fed a high-salt diet.
- Group 2 – did the heart healthy thing, and followed a low salt diet.
The animals getting lots of salt in their diet, were able to bring the Leishmania infection, “under control”. The animals on the low salt diet, struggled to clear the infection.
The human body is an attractive neighbourhood………… many bacteria, given an opportunity, want to move in and set up shop.
Bacteria can be good for the body’s economy, but new arrivals are strictly vetted and controlled by the immune system. A sudden mass influx of riff raff, cannot be tolerated. Protecting the borders is important…….
The biggest border by far, is the skin.
Skin cells (keratinocytes), work closely with the immune cells to keep the border closed. The same techniques humans use, to keep unwanted bacteria out…….
THEY PICKLE THEM
The salt of the skin
Salt gets a bad wrap……….but for centuries, salt was a prized commodity – without refrigeration, pickling and fermenting were the primary ways foods were preserved.
Historically, we ate a high salt diet.
Mother Nature can handle salt and she’s using it wisely.
Salty snacks may be acceptable as long as you tame the salt thirst with good old fashioned water but don’t drink too much and be cautious if you have a spare tyre already…..
Swooshing, stops the conversion of nitrate to nitrite by the bacteria living in your mouth – since nitrite help dilate blood vessels, your blood pressure rises
What if cholesterol build up is a red herring ? What if, high blood pressure is due to someone, not something, putting the squeeze on your blood vessels.
Want to discover how to enjoy better body chemistry ?
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