I had an amazing opportunity to interview Dr. James J. DiNicolantonio author of The Salt Fix, if you have questions related to salt then you better check out his new book The Salt Fix on his website http://thesaltfix.com/.
1. When and why did salt start getting a bad reputation amongst health care providers?
Salt began to get a bad rap among health care providers at the same time it got a bad rap with the public, which was 1977 when the first Dietary Goals for Americans was released telling the public to consume no more than 1,200 mg of sodium per day.
2. What does the institution gain for keeping the image of salt in a negative light?
The institution gains credibility but continuing to push the idea that low-salt diets are health; they can save face by not having to admit they were wrong that the low-salt advice which has been given for the last 40 plus years has never had any evidence and may actually harm people.
3. As a salt champion, where did your interest come into restoring salt’s image to the public?
My interest for restoring salt’s image originally came from when I was working as a community pharmacist. My patients were coming up to with symptoms of salt deficiency like muscle cramps, dizziness, exercise intolerance after being placed on low-salt diets which was rapidly improved after they increased their salt intake for just a few days.
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I have always known the benefits that salt has in regards to exercise and using salt to allow people to eat healthy foods and exercise more. In my own life, my kids won’t eat their vegetables without salt on them.
4. There are so many types of salt available. What salt is the best salt to be used for consumption by the public?
My #1 recommended salt in the book is Redmond Real salt. Redmond Real salt (www.realsalt.com) is from an ancient ocean so it doesn’t contain the potential microplastics and traces of heavy metals that can contaminate salts from modern day oceans.
It is also very reasonably priced, contains good amounts of iodine and calcium, and is an unrefined salt. It is my go to salt especially prior to exercise as we can lose around 50-100 mcg of iodine per hour of exercise through sweating.
5. Research is progressively showing how harmful sugar is for the human body. What are your thoughts on sugar addiction that is plaguing the nation?
People who are struggling with sugar cravings may actually be doing themselves a disservice by shunning the other white crystal salt. Salt seems to be an antidote to sugar in that when we have adequate amounts of salt we may be less inclined to consume sweet foods.
This is because when we are deficient in salt the body’s way to protect itself from salt deficiency is to sensitize the reward system in the brain so we crave salt more and so salt is more rewarding when we find it in the diet. The problem is that the other harmful white crystal, sugar, is also likely more rewarding making low-salt diets a potential risk factor for sugar dependency.
6. Some of the most important advices given to people with type 2 diabetes are usually first to shed the extra weight they are carrying, then to get on a healthy diet to keep the weight off. What role does salt play in keeping the weight off for those struggling with diabetes?
Salt seems to be extremely important for patients with Type 2 diabetes because it allows people to eat a healthy diet (such as bitter greens, nuts, and seeds) and also allows people to exercise as we lose salt in sweat. Salt is literally the best way for people to eat a healthy diet and exercise more.
Also, not getting enough salt has been found to cause insulin resistance (a precursor to Type 2 diabetes). One study even showed that consuming about 6,000 mg of sodium versus 3,000 mg of sodium per day in hypertensive Type 2 diabetics improved insulin resistance.
7. Is there such a thing as “bad” or “good” salt?
Regular table salt contains dextrose, is highly refined, bleached white and doesn’t contain other minerals besides sodium and chloride. Its certainly better to get some salt than no salt even if it is from table salt but I prefer Redmond Real salt for the reasons listed above.
8. There are so many processed foods available in supermarkets, restaurants and most contain a lot of salt. How do you make the case against processed and fast foods while still fighting for salt?
My entire argument is that once you drop the processed foods this can lead to salt deficiency because many unprocessed foods (unless you are consuming the entire animal) are low in salt. Thus, when people cut out processed foods they may need to add salt back to their diets.
9. What are some of the good effects of salt and what are some of the negative effects?
Salt is composed of two essential minerals sodium and chloride. Sodium gives us a blood pressure, keeps our arteries dilated, allows muscle and neuron communication, and helps our bodies, brains, and bones absorb vitamin C. Chloride is what makes up hydrochloric acid which helps us digest food, absorb nutrients, and fight off bacterial infections.
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10. Is it possible that people might overdo the consumption of salt now that they have read your book?
For the last 10,000 years salt was our main food preservative with intakes over 10 times what we consume today and this was a time when we didn’t have all the chronic diseases that we have today.
Luckily our bodies control salt intake chronically akin to how our bodies control water intake. Its much better to listen to your body when it comes to salt intake than consciously restricting this essential mineral.
11. What are some of the myths associated to eating salt that you are constantly trying to dispel?
Most people still believe that salt leads to hypertension and cardiovascular disease but there has never been a single study that has proven this. Also, most people believe we only need about 200 mg of sodium per day and think this is the healthiest amount of salt to consume but most studies don’t support this contention.
12. What is your salt mantra?
My salt mantra is simple. Eat real food and real salt to taste.