How to naturally lower blood pressure by eating more salt

Admittedly, this seems counter intuitive considering everything doctors and the media tell us about the dangers of salt. But new research shows it’s not salt that hurts our lower pressure with saltblood pressure. It’s the kind of salt we eat. In fact, eating the right salt can help lower blood pressure.

Dr. John Laragh is known as the expert in hypertension (high blood pressure) for over 30 years. He’s written books, over 900 articles, is Director of the Cardiovascular Center at the New York Prespyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center, and more. He’s the go to guy for hypertension.

So when his research  showed a healthy heart needs more  salt, not less, he turned a bunch of heads.

Here’s what he discovered:

• When your body doesn’t have enough salt, it triggers an enzyme called renin, which raises your blood pressure. Going on a low salt diet only makes it worse.

•  7 out of 10 people with hypertension have this problem.

• The other 3 out of 10 people are truly salt sensitive. Their renin levels are too low, so they really should reduce sodium intake to lower blood pressure.

Here’s the biggest surprise: for those 70% who are not salt sensitive, Dr. Laragh found men with the lowest sodium intake had 430% higher risk of  a heart attack.

Dr. Laragh’s findings help explain several large-scale studies that confused doctors for years:

• An eight-year study of a New York City hypertensive population found those on low-salt diets had more than 4X as many heart attacks as those on normal  salt diets.

• A ten-year follow-up study to the huge Scottish Heart Health Study found no improved health outcomes for those on low-salt diets.

• In September, 2002, the latest and highest-quality meta-analysis of clinical trials was published in the British Medical Journal confirming a significant salt reduction had no health benefits. And in very sensitive populations, it only affected their blood pressure very slightly.

To understand why salt’s not the problem, we need to understand the difference between…

Natural salt vs. refined salt

Real (natural) salt contains over 80 important minerals and trace minerals. These minerals affect thousands of functions in our bodies, and help us maintain overall health.

And since nature always seeks balance, the minerals in natural salt also help your body only use the sodium it needs, then eliminates the rest.

We all need salt because sodium conducts energy, which is how our cells talk to each other. For instance, if you want to move your left thumb, your brain sends the signal through a sodium molecule to make the action happen. Without salt, you can’t move.

It’s another reason why athletes drink electrolytes. Electrolytes are full of mineral-rich sodium that aid in muscle performance and recovery.

Salt’s so important that:

• Our blood and lymph system is surrounded in salty liquid

• Babies in the womb are protected in salty amniotic fluid

• All 37 trillion cells in our body’s bathed in a salty solution

What about the white stuff?

Ordinary table salt (refined salt) is natural salt that’s been chemically stripped of all its minerals – and therefore offers no health benefits.

The moisture’s removed too, which lets refined salt sit on store shelves longer without clumping or spoiling. Then they add additives and bleaching agents, which are tough for your body to process.

If you eat sea salt, it’s no better than the cheaper table salt. Just remember, if it’s white, it’s stripped.

But salt isn’t stripped so we can shake it over our food. It’s stripped because 93% of it goes towards industrial use. Manufacturers need chemically pure sodium to make explosives, chlorine gas, soda, fertilizers, and plastics. So using refined salt for food is secondary.

In Dr. David Brownstein’s book Salt Your Way to Health, he shares several stories showing people with heart issues don’t need more drugs. They need more minerals. The same minerals found in natural salt:

• A 58 year old woman cut salt out of diet for 5 years. Her BP was 140/90. Dr. Brownstein put her on a plan of minerals and natural salt. Within 2 weeks, she felt like her “old self” again and her blood pressure dropped to 120/70.

• Another patient, 63-year old man named Jack, was on hypertensive medications and a low-salt diet for 7 years. He suffered several side-effects from the drugs. After just one month on mineral supplements and unrefined salt, he started feeling better. After 2 months, he was able to cut out one medication and cut the other one in half.

Go for the pink stuff

There are lots of natural salts out there, in colors ranging from gray to red. But many can be too expensive for everyday use. A high-quality and more affordable salt is the Pink Himalayan salt often found in grocery and health food stores.

This salt comes from ancient sea salt deposits in the Himalayan mountains. The pink comes from its 84 minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron. This salt’s hand mined, hand washed, and sun dried to preserve its nutrients.

Use it like you would any other time you use the white stuff. Cook with it or sprinkle it on food. Before working out, take a pinch of Pink Himalayan salt with a swig of water before working out. Then do it again afterwards if needed. This will help your muscles recover and help them avoid cramping.

If you’re one of the 30% who are truly salt sensitive, then definitely lower your salt intake. However when you do eat salt, be sure to eat the natural salt that’s full of minerals to help balance and strengthen your body.

Sources:

High Blood Pressure and Heart Attack, myclevelandclinic.org, 6/24/2009
DASH diet: Healthy eating to lower your blood pressure, MayoClinic.com, May 15, 2010
High Blood Pressure, MedlinePlus.com, Nov 15, 2010
Chang L, An Overview of High Blood Pressure Treatment, WebMD.com, Aug 10, 2010
Celtic Ocean Sea Salt, regenerativenutrition.com
Barron J, “Table Salt vs Unrefined Sea Salt – a Primer,” healthfreedoms.org, May 24, 2009
Hooper L, et al. Advice to reduce dietary salt for prevention of cardiovascular disease. The Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews. 2004, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD003556
Jugens G, et al. Effects of a low sodium diet versus high sodium diet on blood pressure, rennin, aldosterone, catecholamines, cholesterols and triglyceride. The Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews. 2004, Issue 1. Art No.:CD004022
Alderman M, Low urinary sodium is associated with greater risk of myocardial infarction among treated hypertensive men. Hypertension. 1995; June 25(6): 1144-1152
Alderman M, Low urinary sodium is associated with greater risk of myocardial infarction among treated hypertensive men. Hypertension. 1995; June 25(6): 1144-115
Brownstein D, Shattering the Myths About One of Nature’s Most Necessary Nutrients, Vitamin Research Products, vrp.com
Barron J, “Table Salt vs Unrefined Sea Salt – a Primer,” healthfreedoms. org, May 24, 2009
Brownstein D, Salt Your Way to Health, 2nd edition, Medical Alternatives Press, 2010