New studies shed light on the danger associated with high salt intake, and the results go far beyond hypertension. Salt could also promote overweight and inflammation.

Most people know that salt can increase blood pressure, especially in people who are most vulnerable to its effects. But the fact that salt lowers some healthy gut bacteria populations has only recently been known. Now, in addition, it is suspected that it may also be involved in the development of obesity.

TOO MUCH SALT IS UNHEALTHY

On average, Spaniards consume twice as much salt as recommended. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a maximum of 5 to 6 g of salt per day.

A high intake of salt causes people called “salt sensitive” to increase their blood pressure. In addition, new studies have shown that large amounts of salt kill beneficial intestinal bacteria, thereby promoting intestinal inflammation and damaging the immune system.

DOES SALT MAKE YOU FAT?

It cannot yet be scientifically affirmed that salt causes obesity, but it can be assured that there is a correlation between higher salt intake and greater weight.

Several scientists have gotten to the bottom of this question in recent years. The INTERMAP study collected data from 4,680 subjects between the ages of 40 and 59. Parameters such as salt intake, blood pressure, and other diseases were recorded using urine samples, blood pressure measurements, and food records.

From these data, Long Zhou and his colleagues concluded in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that each additional gram of salt is associated with a 24% increased risk of obesity in American subjects. The study shows that the body mass index (BMI) increases 0.52 points for each more gram of salt consumed per day.

 

SUPPORTS DIABETES AND FATTY LIVER

The research team led by Dr. Miguel Lanaspa, from the University of Colorado, discovered a possible explanation for salt being fattening. Their results were presented in the renowned scientific journal Nature.

According to Lanaspa, an increase in salt intake activates the enzyme aldose reductase, which stimulates the body’s own production of fructose and sorbitol in the liver. In this way, a higher salt intake causes insulin resistance and obesity, as has been tested in laboratory animals.

The researchers then confirmed their theory based on human data. Among 13,000 healthy Japanese subjects with the same calorie intake, those with a higher salt intake had a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease. The results were obtained from a long-term study from 2004 to 2009.

HOW TO REDUCE SALT INTAKE AND WEIGHT

Reducing the salt we add when preparing meals is simple and within everyone’s reach. The problem is the processed and ultra-processed foods that come into the house and are usually loaded with salt or sodium additives.

Avoid the following foods to reduce your salt intake. You will also get a great added benefit because you will also lose weight, since most prepared meals also contain additional sugars and fats.

  • Prepared goods and fast food: pizza, hamburgers, canned goods, frozen meals, or bagged sauces.
  • Sausages and meats: salami, cooked ham, meat sausage, Serrano ham, sausages in general and marinated meat.
  • Breads and rolls: supermarket bread products usually contain more than 1 g of salt per 100 g of bread. Bake bread yourself or buy unsalted or low-salt bread.
  • Cheese: gorgonzola, feta, gruyère or Gouda are especially salty.
  • Appetizers: crackers, chips, various salty snacks, fried and salty nuts.

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