Health Fascism's Latest Front: The War on Salt in New York

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salt shaker

New York Times science reporter John Tierney has an excellent article today on New York City's Mayor Bloomberg's attempt to rip salt shakers from the hands of the Big Apple's diners. The reason: allegedly to improve their health. But as Tierney shows, such public health fascism can have unintended consequences:

Suppose you wanted to test the effects of halving the amount of salt in people's diets. If you were an academic researcher, you'd have to persuade your institutional review board that you had considered the risks and obtained informed consent from the participants.

You might, for instance, take note of a recent clinical trial in which heart patients put on a restricted-sodium diet fared worse than those on a normal diet. In light of new research suggesting that eating salt improves mood and combats depression, you might be alert for psychological effects of the new diet. You might worry that people would react to less-salty food by eating more of it, a trend you could monitor by comparing them with a control group.

But if you are the mayor of New York, no such constraints apply. You can simply announce, as Michael Bloomberg did, that the city is starting a "nationwide initiative" to pressure the food industry and restaurant chains to cut salt intake by half over the next decade. Why bother with consent forms when you can automatically enroll everyone in the experiment?

Tierney then goes on to detail the scientific evidence that suggests that cutting back on salt will not have the salutary effects the mayor and other health nazis expect:

First, a reduced-salt diet doesn't lower everyone's blood pressure. Some individuals' blood pressure can actually rise in response to less salt, and most people aren't affected much either way. The more notable drop in blood pressure tends to occur in some β€” but by no means all β€” people with hypertension, a condition that affects more than a quarter of American adults.

Second, even though lower blood pressure correlates with less heart disease, scientists haven't demonstrated that eating less salt leads to better health and longer life. The results from observational studies have too often been inconclusive and contradictory. After reviewing the literature for the Cochrane Collaboration in 2003, researchers from Copenhagen University concluded that "there is little evidence for long-term benefit from reducing salt intake."

A similar conclusion was reached in 2006 by Norman K. Hollenberg of Harvard Medical School. While it might make sense for some individuals to change their diets, he wrote, "the available evidence shows that the influence of salt intake is too inconsistent and generally too small to mandate policy decisions at the community level."

In the past year, researchers led by Salvatore Paterna of the University of Palermo have reported one of the most rigorous experiments so far: a randomized clinical trial of heart patients who were put on different diets. Those on a low-sodium diet were more likely to be rehospitalized and to die, results that prompted the researchers to ask, "Is sodium an old enemy or a new friend?" …

Salt deprivation might also darken your mood, according to recent research by Alan Kim Johnson and colleagues at the University of Iowa. After analyzing the behavior and brain chemistry of salt-deprived rats, the psychologists found that salt, like chocolate and cocaine, affected reward circuitry in the brain, and that salt-deprived rats exhibited anhedonia, a symptom of depression characterized by the inability to enjoy normally pleasurable activities.

The whole article is well worth reading. See also my 2001 Reason column detailing similar findings and Nick Gillespie's superb 2006 column on the race to ban what's bad for us. 

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  1. salt-deprived rats exhibited anhedonia, a symptom of depression characterized by the inability to enjoy normally pleasurable activities.

    I suspect that for our New Nannies, those neo-Puritan public health fascists, this is a feature, not a bug.

  2. It’s astonishing that Mark Green would probably have turned out to be a far less shitty mayor than Bloomberg. That’s really fucked up.

  3. Yo, fuck Michael Bloomberg.

    (I know it’s getting old, but Bloomberg really deserves it. Seriously, fuck that guy…)

  4. So Bloomberg is an idiot who likes to tell people what to do.

    Who’d a thunk it?

  5. Obviously you guys just don’t get it. Salt causes heart disease! It’s just like cell phones cause brain disease. Or living next to high tension power lines causes cancer.

  6. Getting old nothing, Taktix?. Sometimes it says all you need to say.

  7. “there is little evidence for long-term benefit from reducing salt intake.”

    In Haiti, removing salt from someone’s diet is how they are turned into zombies.

  8. And who, exactly, will now protect the city from slugs?

    I seem to recall a Simpsons episode that ended with giant gorillas who wouldn’t survive the winter.

  9. Well you know it’s not the salt that the problem. You can be perfectly responsible and give up salt to prevent hypertension.

    Thee problem is the hypertension you’ll get from the second hand salt when the diner at the next table puts salt on his food.

    You libertarians are all so callous. you clearly don’t have the right public spirit.

  10. Could do something RADICAL, that I happen to do.

    I rarely add salt to anything. Maybe a little sprinkle to brussels sprouts while they steam or a pinch to pasta water.

    Whole canned tomatoes usually have enough salt for me and I try to find other canned items that are no salt added.

    Eating out they usually have enough salt in everything for my taste.

    I usually add pepper.

    Nah, that is too radical for NYC.

  11. Preview doesn’t help, I still manage plenty of typos.

    Of course, I could just claim that the typos are there for the shrill tone I was trying to convey.

  12. But if you are the mayor of New York, no such constraints apply. You can simply announce, as Michael Bloomberg did, that the city is starting a “nationwide initiative” to pressure the food industry and restaurant chains to cut salt intake by half over the next decade.

    Government, relying on junk science to push an agenda? I am shocked, SHOCKED!

  13. “Thee problem is the hypertension you’ll get from the second hand salt when the diner at the next table puts salt on his food.”

    Second hand salt is a euphemism for urine. Where are you dining?

  14. “I rarely add salt to anything. Maybe a little sprinkle to brussels sprouts while they steam or a pinch to pasta water.

    Whole canned tomatoes usually have enough salt for me and I try to find other canned items that are no salt added.

    Eating out they usually have enough salt in everything for my taste.

    I usually add pepper.”

    thanks for sharing

  15. What about kids swimming in the ocean? They could accidentally swallow large quantities of salt!

    And what of Big Pretzel?

  16. It would be wonderfully ironic if Bloomberg got run over by a salt truck next winter. Seriously, someone should murder that fucker.

  17. New York Times science reporter John Tierney has an excellent article today on New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to rip salt shakers from the hands of the Big Apple’s diners. The reason: allegedly to improve their health.

    I love the F?hrer like my mother and my father

    Or, in this case, Major Bloomberg, since he wants to be everybody’s mommy.

  18. As an amateur chef, the right (non-governmentally-mandated) amount of salt is crucial to making my creations taste as awesome as they do, and it always takes more than you’d think. Maybe i’d live longer eating less salt, but why would i want to?

  19. the effects of salt on blood pressure are mostly genetic. my grandfather put salt on everything before he tasted it. the joke was he put salt on his salt. He always had low blood pressure and was healthy. he died at 83 and his heart had nothing to do with it. i use salt on my salt just like the old man. my blood pressure is 105/70. So F the health Nazis, whats good for the goose is not necasarily good for the gander in healthcare

  20. They can take away our salt but they cannot take away our freedom!

  21. xeones;
    as someone who cooks alot, not a real chef like yourself, you are most right. it takes more than people think, and for the most part you CAN NOT add it later and get the same taste. you will get a salty taste.

  22. What’s best about the nanny overlords of Bibertaria is how rarely they’re right. Which is why libertarianism is so much better–let us decide how much damned salt we need, thank you very much. And if it kills us, take the salt from our corpses and give it to other salt-eating fanatics.

  23. I can understand (though not agree) with the traditional political desire to micromanage the lives of other people. After all, some people are control freaks, and a certain percentage of them wind up in politics. But this new nannyism has me stumped. I simply cannot understand this behavior.

    It seems like every few weeks I’m reading about another stupid policy like this. Tobacco: banned. Fat: banned. Sugar: banned. Now it’s salt. What’s next, spicy foods? Carbs are already under suspicion, and fruits and veggies might be perpetually recalled. I suspect our future will be like a bad episode of Star Trek, and we’ll be resigned to eating flavorless protein tablets. But it won’t stop with food. Soon it will be forbidden to pick our noses or scratch our asses.

  24. Does all of this big city nannystateism stem from the fact that people who live in urban areas are whiney, helpless, thieving scabs?

  25. They are just assuming that the Gua are amongst us and that salt’s heroin-like effects on them must be stopped. It’s all part of the WOD.

  26. (psst, Tofusushi; you’re making H&R your own personal Twitter again)

  27. Why is this crap any better than worrying about what kind of porn we view? This is why left-libertarianism is an oxymoron as much as right-libertarianism is.

  28. There’s an apocryphal story — although I remember it happening quite clearly and being a big buzz my senior year — at my childhood high school of a kid with a penchant for dumping his food with salt. This progressively annoyed and worried his parents so they cut him off entirely. And he promptly died. Apparently he’d had some serious deficiency that his body had been instinctively correcting.

    Anyway, it’s the sort of story you want to wave in your parents’ face when you’re a kid, but when it’s someone real to you you’re also sorta horrified. I mean that’s gotta really, really suck for the parents.

  29. Exactly right, SpongePaul. I’m not a “real” chef, but i’ve hung out with enough of them to pick up some tricks. It’s amazing what the right amount of salt will bring out of a basic spice rub. Plus, if you want a good crust on your steak, you have to COVER the thing in those fine NaCl crystals.

    Meanwhile, i occasionally run into problems with my blood pressure being too low.

  30. FrBunny,

    And who, exactly, will now protect the city from slugs?

    Trick question. Slugs are all that populate cities.

  31. HEB,

    Then this anti-salt move is clearly to literally protect the children. Thanks again, gummint!

  32. Meanwhile, i occasionally run into problems with my blood pressure being too low.

    Just read a Balko post. That’ll fix you right up.

  33. more anhedonia, just what the world needs

  34. The trick is to convince Bloomberg that he is dangerous to the residents of NYC and he will legislate himself out of existence

  35. They can take away our salt but they cannot take away our freedom!

    Because you can’t draw blood from a salty turnip…

  36. Meanwhile, i occasionally run into problems with my blood pressure being too low.
    __________________________________________
    exactly like before mine is 70/105 and i smoke have a load of caffine in my diet. 500mg a day. and eat lots of salt. I have actually passed out because of low blood pressure, and not eating for a day. when i wake up its scary its usually 60/90 with a temp of 95.8 so if you take awya my salt and caffine, then i die. well not exactly. but it either has no effect on my personal pressure, or i am lacking something, could be genetic as my grandfather was also a salt whor. but whatever it is, they will pry the salt caffine nicotine and spicy foods, from my cold dead hands

  37. Brandybuck,
    After all, some people are control freaks, and a certain percentage of them wind up in politics. But this new nannyism has me stumped. I simply cannot understand this behavior.

    It should be no wonder – the incentive to increase the budget requirement for enforcement is enough to push forward this agenda. Government’s incentive IS to grow the size of the bureaucracy, because that is where the money is. It is also a reflection of a government official’s effectiveness: “Look at how many people depend on me!”

  38. IS CUNNILINGUS ALSO TO BE BANNED IN NEW YORK?

  39. Depends on the girl.

  40. IS CUNNILINGUS ALSO TO BE BANNED IN NEW YORK?
    _____________________________________________
    It may already be against the law, as it falls into unatural sex acts, and is included into the sodomy/unatrual acts in some states. i know in LA it was still on the books in the late 90’s. It said that even consenual anal/ genital/ mouth contact outside of normal procreation was unlawful. it was a 5-10 felony. so we were all felons in LA, Sad, but true

  41. yes even husband/wife relations could be charged. now they said it was only used in sex crimes, but once again, selective enforcement of an unconst law does not make it const. I do belive that in many states, if not all are doing away with the statute or rewording it.

  42. It said that even consensual anal/ genital/ mouth contact outside of normal procreation was unlawful.

    “If loving you is wrong…
    I don’t wanna be right, I don’t wanna be right”

  43. SUGARFREE, YOU NA?VE FOOL, THEY’RE ALL SALTY, EVEN WHEN NOT SARDINE-FLAVORED.

  44. IS CUNNILINGUS ALSO TO BE BANNED IN NEW YORK?

    Now that New York is filled with pussies, probably not.

  45. oh and all gays are felons in the states with the laws on the books. now i never ever said i agreed with them, i find the horrid, the laws, not the gays. but it gives you guys an idea of how fucked our poltical system really is

  46. A properly seasoned dish doesn’t taste salty, even if it has salt in it.

  47. Michael Bloomberg would be the worst person in the world if Keith Olbermann didn’t already hold the title in perpetuity.

  48. SUGARFREE, YOU NA?VE FOOL, THEY’RE ALL SALTY, EVEN WHEN NOT SARDINE-FLAVORED.

    Uh oh…the Urkobold has been eating cat food again.

  49. YOU FORGET, MY DEAR, EPISIARCH, THAT THE URKOBOLD IS BONDED TO THE WEIBSKOBOLD, A WOMAN WITH AN UNUSUAL AFFINITY FOR METANEPHROPS BINGHAMI.

  50. “It may already be against the law, as it falls into unatural sex acts”

    I saw a show on the Nature channel where this big old male bear was following around a female bear in heat. The male bear kept licking the bajeebus out of the female bear’s vagina.

    So is cunnilingus “unnatural”? No way.

  51. EXTRA COMMA?! VIKING MINION! DARE YOU MISTRANSCRIBE THE URKOBOLD’S POSTING YET AGAIN? CONSUME SALT IN LARGE QUANTITIES AND LOOK TO YOUR TAINT, WHICH IS IMPERILED!

  52. Salt is what makes things taste good and it is ESSENTIAL TO LIFE. The bans are all stupid and awful, but at least something like trans fats is something you don’t, you know, need to live.

  53. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to see Bloomberg publicly fall for the dihydrogen monoxide hoax.

  54. We need to organize a march to the East River to make salt…

  55. Zeb,
    Salt is what makes things taste good and it is ESSENTIAL TO LIFE. The bans are all stupid and awful, but at least something like trans fats is something you don’t, you know, need to live.

    Agree with you on the first, not with the second part. Even if Trans Fats are not really needed for life, there is no justification for the State to ban the product, considering that such a ban is a limitation of our freedom to choose.

  56. Led by Ben Kingsley!

  57. What a moron that Bloomberg is. Doesn’t he have something useful to do?

    Taking the crap they call “salt” off the table would probably be a good thing. We love Real Salt – google it. Some countries use salt to cure all kinda ills.. Here in Costa Rica, they kill all the good in salt with heat and chlorine, then they add fluoride and iodine. Stupid.

  58. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to see Bloomberg publicly fall for the dihydrogen monoxide hoax.

    Hoax? You must be a denier.

  59. Doesn’t he have something useful to do?

    Like use his shamefully gotten extra term to actually fix the problems he purportedly wanted it for – like the major financial crisis the city has? nah.

  60. Look. I expect to get some shit for this but I don’t care.

    I bring my own salt when I go to restaurants. It started because of my ever-worsening allergy to iodine, but now it’s just nice to have my own kosher salt handy. I don’t use it very often, but I appreciate the trouble when I do.

  61. Just read a Balko post.

    That usually does the trick, but i’m not a fan of the way my vision starts fading to red.

  62. SugarFree,

    Did Jerry Lewis play you in a movie where his father was a former star football player?

  63. Actually, a lemon-mint douche usually gets rid of the saltiness. For that spring-fresh afternoon snack!

  64. FTG, I agree completely. The state has no business dictating what anyone should eat or what any business should be able to serve. My point was that with trans fat, if you assume that government does have some business banning bad food or some obligation to protect people from unhealthy food (which I do not), there is a case to be made that such a ban is called for. When you start trying to regulate access to essential substances, it is just plain wrong and stupid, no matter how much of a nanny-stater you are.

  65. Sally O’Boyle

    I didn’t realize that there was anywhere in the world that table salt was not Sodium Chloride, a chemical that occurs naturally in seawater and in deposits left behind by the receding of ancient seas.

    The amount of Iodine added (another piece of health nannyism incidentaly – to prevent goitre related ailments) may be enough to affect the allergy prone (something to not be sneezed at – sorry – since it can be serious) but it’s not likely to affect taste.

    Googling “adding fluoride to table salt” I find that it is done (to help prevent tooth decay) in France and Jamaica, but it is not to my knowledge done in the USA.

    You seem to have fallen for the NATURAL trap where everything in the industrialized world is “unnatural” while in another setting the identical substance is magically “natural”.

  66. Kreel Sarloo,

    Perhaps Sally prefers free range salt?

  67. Calm down, Kreel. I use sea salt at home (actually,

  68. Calm down, Kreel. I use sea salt at home (actually, soi disant “grey” salt) because it tastes better. Kind of sweeter, without any weird metallic flavors.

    Sea or grey salt is not identical to NaCl. It has other minerals in it, and much less iodine that iodized table salt.

    Stupid tags.

  69. “Salt deprivation might also darken your mood”

    This is in New York, right? No problem, then! Nobody will notice the difference! >;)

  70. SugarFree,

    Allergic to iodine? Won’t that lead to thyroid issues?

  71. I use sea salt too, RC, (I also shop at Whole Foods – because buffalo burgers at $6.99 a lb are da bomb) but I do it in the full realization that it is mostly NaCl (like 99.9something%).

    I realize that it’s got other minerals. In fact some people prefer one’s regions sea salt over another’s because of different. minerals.

    I confess my taste buds are not so highly tuned.

    I just get really irritated by the “I won’t eat food from X, it’s all chemicals”. Umm, last I checked, all food everything is all chemicals.

    I don’t mind people having preferences (I have my own), I just wish they knew what their preferences actually were.

  72. Taking the crap they call “salt” off the table would probably be a good thing.

    Whatever. Enjoy your iodine deficiency, suckers…

  73. What like these ‘Drs’ really know anything about american health.

    Obviously a mayor knows so much more.

    Sea Salt is much better for you overall.

  74. Sorry, not buying that “Sea Salt is much better for you overall” line.

    It’s Sodium Chloride people. Doesn’t matter if it’s the residue left from evaporating seawater or the water of the Great Salt Lake (Mortons has a huge facility there) or digging it out of the ground.

    Table salt is Sodium Chloride. Fancy packaging and a high price don’t make it different.

    If you don’t like it iodized buy the uniodized stuff or pay through the nose for sea salt, but don’t full yourself that you getting a different substance.

    Not sure what you do in France if you don’t want the fluoridated stuff, though. Frnkly I’m a little surprised that the frogs would go for that sort of adulteration.

  75. PL,

    The docs check my thyroid function regularly. They never seem to have a problem with it. I eat a fairly varied diet, so I probably take in enough in low doses. And while iodine allergy and a shellfish allergy are not the same thing, many medical professionals tell me they might be related. I know I’m allergic to shellfish, so I stay away from excess amounts of iodine too.

    “Funny” story: I went in for an emergency MRA (angiograph) once (they thought I might have an unruptured aneurysm) and they took a history and asked about medication allergies. Of course, I’m not doing so well, trying to stay calm so I could find out if I was going to drop dead. The techs are really nice, they get me in a gown and stick an IV in my arm. Just as the huge syringe of contrast dye is headed for my IV, the tech goes “Hey, you’re not allergic to shellfish, are you?” And I’m like “Yes… very, very allergic.” And he smiles and leaves with the needle. And I have an MRA without contrast dye. Which doesn’t tell them if I have an aneurysm or not. It was two weeks before I could go to a place that had the dye that I could use. I told all of this to the neurologist I had read my films. I asked him what would have happened if they injected me and he sort of shrugged.

  76. Not sure what you do in France if you don’t want the fluoridated stuff, though. Frnkly I’m a little surprised that the frogs would go for that sort of adulteration.

    France is the new York.

  77. “Not sure what you do in France if you don’t want the fluoridated stuff, though. Frnkly I’m a little surprised that the frogs would go for that sort of adulteration.”

    They are motivated by the fact that don’t want to end up with smiles like the British.

  78. “a shellfish allergy”

    ARRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!

  79. But it’s not. It really isn’t.

    I have no idea if it’s more or less healthy, but standard tablet salt is NaCl, sea-salt is mostly NaCl but not entirely.

    You seem to have fallen for the NATURAL trap where everything in the industrialized world is “unnatural” while in another setting the identical substance is magically “natural”.

    I so agreed with you here, in general, but your insistence that they are chemically identical is just plain wrong. They aren’t. And no, there isn’t a conspiracy of chemists trying to trick you into thinking they are different when they really are the same, there are actual differences.

  80. Gumbo,

    And it’s an adult allergy. I ate it all as a kid and know what it tastes like.

  81. You seem to have fallen for the NATURAL trap where everything in the industrialized world is “unnatural” while in another setting the identical substance is magically “natural”.

    You say ‘Natural trap’ like its a bad thing. lol

  82. Oh, and when I say “getting a different substance” I’m referring to the health effects. As others, who I won’t argue with, have noted above, trace minerals may affect the flavor. I’ve never noticed, but I’m a Philistine. πŸ™‚

    As noted in the original post salt (actually sodium) can agravate the condition in some people who are prone to hypertension. The affect on the populace at large is an open question.

    People who believe that their hypertension can be moderated by a low sodium diet can use calcium salts which some believes can pay dividends to sufferers of hypertension. In fact, many restaurants in Florida (the geriatric capitol of the universe) have such salt substitutes (actually they are actually salt too, but that’s another story) on request or even right alongside the other condiments.

  83. “Florida (the geriatric capitol of the universe)”

    You are forgetting US Ferderal prisions.

  84. Table salt is Sodium Chloride. Fancy packaging and a high price don’t make it different.

    So if I ate Taco Bell for 3 strait days, then took a plug of salt, jammed it up my ass, pulled it out and sprinkled it on your food, you’d be cool with it?

    I only ask because it’s a fetish πŸ˜‰

  85. “You say ‘Natural trap’ like its a bad thing. lol”

    You know, “organic” vegetables probably taste better and are more nutritious when you get them at you local farmer’s market from the hippie farmer who picked them fresh the day before.

    But I’m fairly sure “organic” has zero benefit on a frozen pizza shrinkwrapped and shipped from a thousand miles away that you get from your grocer’s freezer (even if it is a “natural” food store).

    But to be truthful I kind of doubt that you’d notice the difference if those fresh picked veggies had been drenched in industrial fertilizers and pesticides and that hippie was nothing but a dirty rotten liar.

  86. Taktix?, you keep stuff pulled out of your ass to yourself.

    Especially your opinions. πŸ™‚

  87. “that hippie was nothing but a dirty rotten liar.”

    Goddam dirty hippies.

  88. SugarFree,

    No fun. I’m a big fish and shellfish eater, and would likely scream bloody murder if my body decided that seafood gumbo was permanently off the menu.

  89. PL,

    Well, it’s not totally bad. I can eat bi-valves and fish, just not lobster, crab, shrimp, and crayfish.

  90. Now I want BLTs for dinner.

  91. Anyone who eats frozen pizza is a friggin disgrace. Pizza is to be made by a sweaty Italian or his hired high school employee in an industrial or brick oven, served hot, and if there are leftovers, eaten cold out of the fridge or reheated in an oven or toaster oven, never microwaved.

    That is the one standing rule on Rainbow Puppy Island. Well, unless you reheat it on the grill. I guess I can’t criticize anyone who manages to do that and do it well.

  92. Now I want BLTs for dinner.

    Need to switch from sausage/egg/cheese bagel to bacon/egg/cheese for breakfast.

  93. SF, if you ever get suicidal, go for the lobster with lots of butter. These people who slash their wrists are fucking crazy.

  94. A life without fried butterfly shrimp is a life hardly worth living.

    A life without crablegs, too? That’s grounds for a Kevorkian disconnect if ever I saw one.

  95. I’m craving bacon-wrapped crawdads now. Dammit.

  96. It sucks, but I get by with scallops. And I love mussels. Hmm… beer steamed mussels…

  97. And the drug war continues, unabated…

    By the way, when did New Yorkers become such pussies?

  98. leftovers, eaten cold out of the fridge or reheated in an oven or toaster oven, never microwaved.

    Hear hear!

    I HATE Microwaved leftover pizza. And I’ve never been a cold leftover pizza kinda guy. Always reheated in the toaster oven.

  99. “And no, there isn’t a conspiracy of chemists trying to trick you into thinking they are different when they really are the same, there are actual differences.”

    True, but the point is that the alegedly harmful ingredient of salt, namely, sodium is present in both and in copious amounts.

    So, one will not escape the harm, (and it can’t be stressed too firmly that the harm is certainly not universal, but it is real for some of those who are prone to hypertension) simply by switching to sea salt. Their sodium intake for al intents and purposes will remain unchanged.

    Of course, none of this has ought to do with the fact that Bloomberg is an idiot and this initiative of his is nuts.

  100. I didn’t read the comment thread, so apologies if this is redundant.

    The reason that people who have already existing hypertension might be told to consume less salt is that salt can promote fluid retention. The higher the fluid load in your body, the more there is to move, and thus the harder your heart has to work to move it all. Clearly, not good for people who already have high blood pressure. These people, at least while in the hospital, have their fluid intakes monitored in addition to being fed a low salt diet; they may also be prescribed diuretics to further reduce their total extracellular fluid volume. But I have never been told of or seen a case firsthand in which a chronic high intake of salt was blamed as the primary cause of a person’s hypertension. It is always regarded as an aggravating factor.

    For people with blood pressure in the normal range, eating more salt probably won’t do anything one way or the other, at least physiologically. It might make you retain some extra fluid, but if you are in good health, don’t have high blood pressure, and exercise or have an active job, that fluid will likely be excreted right back out. In fact, for people who are often active and sweat a lot, eating a little extra salt may be a good thing. Sodium is the primary extracelluar electrolyte, and is, in simple terms, essential for human life.

    Most people eat too much salt because most of the food we eat, at least in the states, is already loaded with it. A person has to make an effort to purchase food that has little added salt.

  101. “Yo, fuck Michael Bloomberg.

    (I know it’s getting old, but Bloomberg really deserves it. Seriously, fuck that guy…)”

    I would never condemn anybody to carrying out that sentence. Except for a few choice individuals in Washington…Ted Kennedy, perhaps?

  102. I completely agree that this is nanny-state behavior, but “one of the most rigorous studies thus far” is something you might want to pick up and read first. The doses they use of the loop diuretic furosemide are extremely high, unlike CHF patients controlled on an outpatient basis. Oh, and while rat studies are typically necessary, I wouldn’t go throwing the results of the studies around like they are solid evidence.

    An astute reader above mentioned that the lower salt intake helps those lower blood pressure IN PATIENTS THAT HAVE BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH HYPERTENSION. This is another reason why Bloomberg is an idiot for trying to push this proposal. Unless of course you understand that the rat race that is NYC may in fact induce hypertension in at least 25% of its residents.

    Mr. Bailey, try to spend a little more research time when you venture into the realm of evidence based medicine.

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