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What If Salt Actually Improves Blood Pressure & Blood Sugar?

What if increasing your salt intake actually improved your diabetic blood sugar?

What if increasing salt intake actually lowered your blood pressure?  Could it be that easy?

Just about every patient that I see has significant worry about salt intake.  Some greater than others. In fact, some people are so salt phobic that when I encouraged its use, they called me a “quack” and left my practice.  But does salt restriction really work, or is it doing more damage than we think?

That was the question that was asked by Dr. Ames in the American Journal of Hypertension 17 years ago.  However, his answer never got a mention.  In fact, I’ve been in practice for almost 18 years, and incidentally stumbled upon this article when it was mentioned by a colleague of mine.   Granted, it is a small sample of people, only 21 in the study.  However, the results are profound.

21 patients with hypertension were randomized to periods of no salt (placebo) and periods of 2 grams (2000 mg) of sodium chloride four times a day (a total of 8 grams of salt per day).  Glucose tolerance tests were completed with insulin levels at the end of each intervention period.

Insulin Resistance and Hypertension Improve by Adding Salt

What was noteworthy was that those with insulin resistance and diabetes had improvement in their glucose levels while on sodium supplementation.  Those with hypertension had improvement in their blood pressure while on the sodium supplementation.   Lastly, those with insulin resistance had a lowering of their insulin levels during the period of increased sodium intake.  These findings fly in the face of the dogma that’s been drilled into our heads that “salt is bad!”

“But, you can’t base your findings on a small group of 21 people,” the experts say.

Yes, it is a small study group. However, these findings are what I, also, have seen clinically in my practice for over 13 years.

We know that the average human needs 3 grams of sodium per day and 3 grams of potassium per day.  If you’re eating the standard American diet (SAD diet) including processed foods, you’re getting 2-3 grams per day of sodium.  In fact, the CDC claims the worst meals for you are:

  • Bread
  • Processed chicken dinners
  • Pizza
  • Pasta

However, if your following a low-carbohydrate or ketogenic lifestyle, you won’t be eating the meals above and you’re probably not getting near enough salt.  This is the cause of the keto-flu I wrote about a few weeks ago.  And, according to the study above, it is a potential driver of our persisting insulin resistance, diabetes and hypertension.

How Much Salt Should I Use?

In my office, I encourage use of 3-4 grams of sodium and 3-4 grams of potassium daily when using a ketogenic lifestyle.  That’s approximately 1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons of salt per day.  I like the Himalayan Pink Salt because it contains sodium, potassium, magnesium and zinc.

Could it be that salt restrictions are making our insulin resistance and blood pressure worse?  That’s what the clinical evidences are pointing toward. However, more research is still needed.

Want to know more about a ketogenic life-style?  Click the link on KetoLife above to get some basics.  If you’re already following a ketogenic lifestyle, then let me help you navigate the bumps and turns by going to the KetoKart and checking out the products I recommend to jump-start ketosis DocMuscles style!

Until then, I’ll have another piece of bacon, please . . . and, oh, pass the salt!