Is a low sodium diet good for everyone?

Sodium is a key component of many foods regularly consumed by people on a daily basis and although health recommendations often advise otherwise, there is still not enough done to stop people from adding excessive amount of salt to their foods.

BackRead More

A major problem with this is that sodium is contained in many regular food products, added to increase the flavor and taste of foods that would otherwise possibly be too bland. But although we all regularly consume sodium every single day, the question is whether or not turning to a low sodium diet is healthy for people. Research has shown that 1.65 million deaths from cardiovascular causes that occurred in 2010 were attributed to sodium consumption above a reference level of 2.0 g per day.

Pritkin also advises against high intake of sodium due to the impact of excessive salt intake over many years, likely to be far greater than that observed in short-term clinical trials in which salt/sodium intake is only moderately reduced. Indeed, in all human populations studied by medical anthropologists, it is known that less than 1,500 mg of sodium per day results in very little or no increase in blood pressure.

Reduction in salt intake has also been highlighted as an important contributor to the falls in blood pressure from 2003 to 2011 in England. As a result, it would have contributed substantially to the decreases in stroke and IHD mortality.

So, we have now established that reducing high amounts of daily sodium intake has healthy consequences for us, especially when it comes to our heart health, but it is still unclear that dramatically reducing sodium intake for is universally a good idea. Rather than reducing sodium intake it may be more prudent to stick to the regular guidelines and not, for instance, add salt to foods that are already full of salt.


Comparing a low sodium diet to a normal sodium diet, researchers took a total of 232 compensated CHF patients receiving a normal-sodium diet plus oral furosemide [250–500 mg, b.i.d. (twice a day)]; and group 2 contained 114 patients (43 females and 71 males) receiving a low-sodium diet plus oral furosemide (250–500 mg, b.i.d.). The treatment was given at 30 days after discharge and for 180 days, in association with a fluid intake of 1000 ml per day.

The results of the present study  V§ show that a normal-sodium diet improves outcome, and sodium depletion has detrimental renal and neurohormonal effects with worse clinical outcome in compensated CHF patients. This is not to say that a low sodium doesn’t decrease blood pressure, it does, but it may negatively impact other aspects of human health.

further study in The Lancet compared moderate sodium intake with high sodium intake to show that high sodium intake is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events and death in hypertensive populations, while the association of low sodium intake with increased risk of cardiovascular events and death is observed in those with or without hypertension. These data suggest that lowering sodium intake is best targeted at populations with hypertension who consume high sodium diets. This is not surprising as there is an increased risk in cutting out any form of nutrient from your diet without really needing to, as has been seen with people who are gluten tolerant yet still cut gluten out of their diets, potentially making them susceptible to other complications due to depriving themselves of a nutrient that they need. The issue is that we are not aware of how much sodium we get in an average day. It would take lengthy spells of checking the packaging on food items and adding it all up and even then, packaging can only be trusted as a guide and not anything exact.


Another important aspect of this all is the genetic point of view. The ACT and AGE genes have seen to be determining factors in a person’s inherent salt sensitivity, which would either be high or normal. It would then be advised that those on the high spectrum would need to lower their daily sodium intake to ensure heart health and those with the normal response would still have to be mindful staying away from excessive salt consumption but they wouldn’t be required to significantly lower their daily salt intake to maintain heart health.

The best course of action, it seems, comes from another source who states that our bodies may have a natural sodium appetite through which our ideal salt intake is regulated. By following a wholefoods, Paleo diet, and eliminating processed foods, excess sodium in your diet will be drastically reduced but you will still get the required amount of sodium that you need to remain healthy. The main takeaway here is that sodium is not the enemy but with anything, excessive consumption of sodium will lead to health complications such as cardiovascular disease.

Never miss a post!

Get DNAfit's latest content straight to your inbox

We'll send you a monthly blog round-up filled with all our latest posts, eBooks, and special offers.

Subscribe for DNAfit News