Sodium Levels

Higher levels of salt are often necessary (along with supplementing other important electrolytes, such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium) while fasting and in ketosis. A low carbohydrate diet is naturally diuretic, as is caffeine, so your body will be excreting more salt.

Do lower sodium dietary recommendations in orthodox western medicine lead to more health problems and more pharmaceutical prescriptions to treat those problems? Consider this:

Pass the salt: The myth of the low-salt diet (excerpts)

… researcher James DiNicolantonio shakes up a nutritional hornet’s nest with his new book, The Salt Fix: Why the Experts Got it All Wrong — and How Eating More Might Save Your Life. DiNicolantonio’s argument is simple: There is no credible evidence that a salt-restricted diet lowers blood pressure in the vast majority of people, nor does it lead to heart disease or stroke. In fact, he argues, salt restriction is harmful and seems to predispose us to such conditions as insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, abnormal workloads on the heart, and kidney disease. Finally, DiNicolantonio reminds us that salt is the wrong little white crystal to blame for chronic illness. The real culprit is sugar.


Fifty percent of Americans are currently monitoring or attempting to reduce their sodium intake and 25 percent are being told by a health professional to curb their sodium consumption. Avoiding salt is one of the Health Commandments. But as DiNicolantonio takes readers through the history of the scientific debates about salt — what he calls the Salt Wars — you can only be impressed by the weakness of the evidence in support of the original calls in the 1950s and ’60s for salt-restriction. Sample sizes were small, evidence misstated and there were no randomized controlled studies, the gold standard for medical research.


The problem for the salt-skeptics was that the data were ambiguous at best and, at worst, failed to show any significant relationship at all between salt intake, blood pressure and heart disease. When such a relationship was found at all, it was tiny — perhaps, at the most, a one point increase in a subject’s systolic or diastolic pressure. DiNicolantonio argues that most people, in fact, are not sensitive to salt intake at all. Drawing on his substantial knowledge of pathophysiology, he points out that for those of us with normal blood pressure, our kidneys are an incredibly powerful factory that efficiently excretes salt when levels rise above very tightly regulated upper limits (normal kidneys can filter the equivalent of over 1 teaspoon of salt every five minutes). When salt is restricted, on the other hand, our body regards this situation as life-threatening and initiates a cascade of hormonal and metabolic rescue maneuvers that, themselves, have negative side effects, including increases in heart rate and elevated serum levels of insulin, cholesterol, and triglycerides.


Science writer Gary Taubes once described it this way: “The controversy over the benefits, if any, of salt reduction now constitutes one of the longest running, most vitriolic and surreal disputes in all of medicine.”