Most of the sodium we eat doesn’t come from table salt. Around 70% comes from ultra-processed foods, such as bread, chips, cold cuts and canned soups.

Is eating too much salt harmful to the intestine? Some scientists think so. They found that high-sodium diets can have a detrimental impact on the gut microbiome, the community of trillions of bacteria, viruses, and other microbes that live in our intestines.

In studies, scientists have found that consuming high levels of sodium can suppress some of the beneficial microbes that live in our intestines. Reducing salt intake appears to have the opposite effect.

A recent study found that when people reduced the amount of sodium they consumed, gut bacteria produced higher levels of beneficial compounds that reduce inflammation and improve metabolic health. Some experts suspect that one way a high-sodium diet contributes to high blood pressure is by disrupting the gut microbes that help regulate blood pressure.

“We know from studies that even small changes in the amount of salt you eat can affect the microbes in your colon,” said Chris Damman, a gastroenterologist at the Center for Digestive Health at the University of Washington Medical Center and author of Gut Bites MD, a blog about gut health. Salt appears to affect the health and growth of these microbes, “and the extent to which they are able to produce healthy factors that help regulate our appetite and metabolism,” Damman said.

Most adults eat too much sodium without even realizing it. Most of the sodium we eat doesn’t come from the table salt we add to our foods. About 70% of dietary salt comes from ultra-processed and packaged foods, such as bread, pizza, chips, cold cuts, canned soups and burgers. Health authorities recommend that adults consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day — the amount contained in approximately one teaspoon of table salt — and yet the average American ingests about 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day.

Outgoing intestine

Eating so much sodium can raise your blood pressure, increasing your risk of heart attacks and strokes. But scientists have also shown that excessive sodium consumption has a direct impact on the gut microbiome. Here are some of the effects of excess salt:

Fewer healthy microbes: In small clinical trials, they found that feeding people high-salt diets leads to marked reductions in important gut microbes, like Lactobacillus, which plays a key role in the immune system and our levels of inflammation. Several animal studies have also documented this.

More harmful microbes: Scientists have found in large observational studies that people who consume higher levels of sodium are more likely to harbor pathogenic bacteria in their intestines.

Less diversity of microbes: These same studies show that salt consumers tend to have less microbiome diversity, which is linked to higher rates of obesity, hypertension and other chronic diseases.

Fewer short-chain fatty acids: Short-chain fatty acids are produced by our gut microbes and research shows they are good for our metabolic health. A surprising, randomized study asked 145 adults with untreated hypertension to follow a low-sodium diet or a normal diet for six weeks. Researchers found that when participants ate less sodium, they had higher levels of short-chain fatty acids, lower blood pressure and improvements in blood vessel health compared to when they ate a high-sodium diet. The findings suggest that when given the correct diet, our gut microbes produce compounds that can help lower blood pressure, said Haidong Zhu, lead author of the study and professor in the departments of medicine and family and community medicine at Augusta University. in Georgia.

How to cut salt from your diet

Pay attention to processed foods. Ultra-processed foods almost always contain more sodium than minimally processed foods, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, eggs, fish, milk and plain yogurt. Replacing ultra-processed foods with fresh foods means you will invariably end up consuming less sodium.

Read the labels: If you eat packaged foods, get into the habit of checking the sodium content. In general, a food is considered with bass sodium content if it provides 5% or less of the daily value for sodium per serving. On the other hand, a food is considered high in sodium if it contains 20% or more of the daily value for sodium per serving.

Beware of salt bombs. According to the federal government, most adults get about 40 percent of their sodium from nine categories of foods. This includes pizza, soups, cold meat sandwiches, snacks (chips, cookies, popcorn), burgers, burritos and tacos, poultry, pasta dishes, eggs and omelets. Watch out for these foods and be aware that they can add excessive amounts of sodium to your diet.

Use salt substitutes: salt is not inherently bad, said Damman of the University of Washington. We need salt in our diet. It’s just that we’re eating too much. One way to mitigate the health effects of salt is to increase your potassium intake. A large meta-analysis published in April in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that people who replaced table salt with salt substitutes that contained potassium chloride and sodium chloride (rather than just sodium chloride) were significantly less likely to have die prematurely from heart disease or other illnesses. causes compared to people who used common salt. Other studies have also found that replacing regular salt with salt substitutes that contain potassium reduces blood pressure.

Eat more foods rich in potassium: Focus on adding the following potassium-rich foods to your diet: leafy greens, potato roots, beans, lentils, chickpeas, pumpkin, and fruits like avocado, banana, orange, mango, kiwi, plums, raisins, dates, and dried apricots.

Use seasoning. Instead of seasoning your food with table salt, try using garlic powder, black pepper, sesame seeds, and other herbs, spices, and seasonings.

Via The Washington Post.


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