Dr. David Brownstein,  editor of Dr. David Brownstein’s Natural Way to Health newsletter, is a board-certified family physician and one of the nation’s foremost practitioners of holistic medicine. Dr. Brownstein has lectured internationally to physicians and others about his success with natural hormones and nutritional therapies in his practice. His books include Drugs That Don’t Work and Natural Therapies That Do!; Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It; Salt Your Way To Health; The Miracle of Natural Hormones; Overcoming Arthritis, Overcoming Thyroid Disorders; The Guide to a Gluten-Free Diet; and The Guide to Healthy Eating. He is the medical director of the Center for Holistic Medicine in West Bloomfield, Mich., where he lives with his wife, Allison, and their teenage daughters, Hailey and Jessica.

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Too Little Salt Can Be Dangerous

Tuesday, 06 Sep 2011 10:06 AM


Question: Can consuming too little salt cause health problems? What is an optimal amount?

Dr. Brownstein's Answer:

For years Americans have been told that salt can be dangerous, that it leads to high blood pressure, and consumption should be limited. But actually, salt is an essential nutrient. Our bodies need it to maintain proper fluid levels in blood cells and for good nerve and muscle function. A deficiency of salt can lead to poor health.

What's key is consuming unrefined and not refined (table) salt. Unrefined salt contains important minerals and not the toxins that result in the refining process. I recommend consuming one-half to one teaspoon of unrefined salt a day. (You can find it in good health-food stores.)

Salt deficiency can result in a low pH level — a measure of the acidity of the body’s fluids. The pH of the human body is tightly controlled; we function optimally at a pH of around 7.2. A low pH is a marker of too much acidity and poor health. One of the main causes for an acidic pH is a low-salt diet and the mineral deficiencies that come with it.

You can easily monitor pH with inexpensive pH paper. Simply wet a small amount of pH paper with saliva first thing in the morning, and match the color with the appropriate pH reading. Saliva most closely mimics the pH of the bloodstream.

A low-salt diet has also been shown to result in a significant increase in cholesterol including LDL cholesterol. Insulin has also been shown to increase in the presence of a low-salt diet. Elevated insulin levels have been associated with the development of diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.

Finally, low-salt diets make it difficult for the body to remove toxic items such as bromine. Bromine toxicity can cause thyroid problems, breast diseases (including breast cancer), and mental abnormalities.

Don’t fall for the low-salt propaganda. There is no good science to back up that claim. Salt is an essential nutrient for the body, and unrefined salt should be the salt of choice. Refined salt is a poor food choice. Find more information about salt in my book, "Salt Your Way To Health."


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