Salt Intake Wrecks Blood-Pressure, And Your Gut Microbes Too:
So the more we study, the stranger the discoveries get about things like diet and your body’s microbes.
This is especially true for the odd finding that not all probiotics are helpful.
More discoveries keep rolling-in about nutrition too, like Western Diets being rough on your hair, your skin, and many other parts of you.
But now, researchers are finding the old diet recs for blood-pressure might be accidentally helping in interesting ways you never imagined…
Let’s Get To The Heart Of The Matter:
So forever, doctors have been recommending people lower their daily sodium-intake,
Especially if they have problems with high blood-pressure, and were even on medication for it.
And one of the things the Western Diet is famous for is: Too Much Sodium.
-Especially in all the lovely processed-foods.
The short answer is Yes, it really does affect your microbiome; not in a good way. Read on to see how…
I’m Pickle Rick!:
Your cardiologist would previously have talked to you about the sodium-potassium pump and how it can become unbalanced.
He might have really warned you off processed-food due to its high content of sodium.
But just like the post about the bizarre-effects of artificial sweeteners, he can now warn you about something else:
The British & German study-results that salt doesn’t just go through your liver or kidneys and then out,
Only screwing up your blood-pressure on the way.
It also really screws up your gut microbiome too, in ways nobody ever guessed.
Yes, you are in-fact, a pickle.
The Subjects Were Preserved Just Like Salt-Cod:
In addition to experiments on mice, Dr. Dominick Muller’s team conducted experiments on a small group of 12 male subjects.
They were all given enough sodium in the diet to increase their total daily intake to 6,000mg,
Effectively doubling it.
And within 14 days, there were no detectable-levels of Lactobacillus bacteria left in their gut microbiome.
Lactobacillus is the main family of good-bacteria you would get from things like yogurt, cheese, sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, kimchi, tempeh,
And other naturally-fermented foods like old-fashioned pickles.
Then The Salt Caused Brain-Cell Inflammation:
Wait, it gets worse.
Not only did all the subjects’ blood-pressure go up,
But pro-inflammatory cells called TH17s also started coming out in force.
-Which really sucks for the study subjects because these are specifically-associated with damaging and then destroying the insulating-shield on brain-cells,
They are also correlated with Multiple Sclerosis in several test models.
And on that note, Dr. Muller hinted that maybe MS-sufferers could try eliminating salt from their diets.
But Luckily-Enough, The Reverse Is Also True!:
Now several clever health-people have suggested that because of all the antibiotics and pesticides that are still in our food,
Probiotics should be taken like multivitamins because your gut microbiome will get compromised.
They might really be onto something, because in the final-proof of their point,
Muller’s team then gave test-animals that were still on the high-sodium diet supplemental probiotics as part of their food.
-Their blood-pressure went down, and the aggressive TH17 inflammation-cells retreated back to normal concentration.
Bonus-Round Excessive Dietary Salt Also Ruins Something Else:
Dominick Muller’s team also conducted an earlier study.
And it again found increased activity from those TH17 cells.
But it also found something possibly worse.
It reduced the activity of a special kind of biological-cleaner called a Macro-Phage.
And since the beneficial biological process we talked about in the Zombie-Cell Cleaner post is called “Auto-phagy”,
Guess what those Macro-phages are involved in?
-The process your body uses to clean out the Zombie-Cells!
Ouch! Another bad mark for excess sodium in the diet! -And processed-food!
That Stouffer’s Hungry-Human-Sized Fancy Feast TV-dinner isn’t looking so good anymore is it?
Stick Around, Because It Gets Worse, Starting With That Bloated Feeling:
The British team I referenced earlier found something just about as fun.
In a national diet study conducted on small populations of about 450 children and 800 adults,
Graham MacGregor’s team found that an increase in salt-intake is also correlated with an increase in Obesity!
The associated-increase was for every extra 1,000mg of salt these Britons got,
Their chances of being obese went up by 26% for children and 28% for adults.
-Which is a little-scary, because the average UK salt-intake is 8,100 mg/day!
Salt Gives Gut Microbes The Old Double-Whammy. -Or Is It Triple?:
So check this out, from the Muller study, we know adults who get 6,000mg/day have basically no Lactobacillus left in their gut,
Their blood-pressure is up,
And all kinds of neuron-eating inflammation-cells are running-wild.
Well the main thesis, Graham’s team has about salt-related obesity is that it increases thirst,
Which then increases intake of sugary-drinks.
But What If It’s Worse?:
Now add on to the UK results that their test-subjects are lacking in all kinds of good-bacteria,
Many of which help metabolize some inputs and also create anti-inflammatory outputs,
Now the other bacteria that aren’t getting crowded-out by the good-ones anymore are getting TONS of calories,
And TONS of sugar!
That sounds like a recipe not just for Obesity, but a general health-disaster, too.
Maybe that’s one of the reasons why Scotland and the UK have some of the highest-rates of Multiple Sclerosis in the world?
They’re killing the good guys, inciting the nasty TH17s, and feeding the rest tons of calories and sucrose!
One More Thing; Quadruple-Whammy:
In one more dispiriting chapter for the Western Diet, we’ve also learned that the cheapest-food is usually the least-healthy.
Now vegetables aren’t as expensive as protein.
But unless it’s french-fries, the ones on the salty list are almost always the ones with the least amount of Fiber.
So a 4th-chapter to how bad things might be for the high-sodium-diet crowd,
Is that they are eating the Salt that kills their good-bacteria,
They’re possibly taking in way too many of even the wrong type of foods,
That are also the worst type of food for any remaining gut microbes,
But by eating a low-fiber Western Diet, they’re also starving any good bacteria of the specific stuff they need to stay alive and do their job.
So drop the Filet-O-Fish, and pick up a Salad.
–Even for your grandchildren’s sake!
But You Can Fix It!:
But anyway, at-least with the benefit of the Muller-team’s second experiment,
We now know we can not only lower blood-pressure through the sodium-potassium pump your heart-doctor told you about,
But there’s a good chance we can reverse a lot of the damage if we get our daily-sodium below the AHA-suggested-limit of 2,300mg,
We can do some pretty-great inflammation-reduction, brain-preservation,
And even weight-loss not even from reducing water-retention.
By reducing your salt-intake you just might reboot your gut microbes, jump-start the macrophages, and even help your body clean-out a few Zombie-Cells, too!
Photo Credits: “salt mine 1”, by Alex Bruda
• Sources: MDC – Salt & Gut Microbes | Wolfson – Salt & Obesity
• More Coverage: Heart.org – Why Limit Sodium?
• Source Studies: Nature – Salt-responsive gut commensal modulates TH17 axis and disease | AHA.Hypertension – High salt intake: independent risk factor for obesity?