Modern Scientific Controversies Part 1: The Salt Wars

Guest Essay by Kip Hansen

Prologue:  This is the first in a series of several essays that will discuss ongoing scientific controversies, a specific type of which are often referred to in the science press and elsewhere as “Wars” – for instance, this essay covers the Salt Wars1.  The purpose of the series to illuminate the similarities and differences involved in each.

Warning:  This is not a short essay.  Dig in when you have time to read a longer piece.

From the New York Times, Wednesday, June 1 2016,   “F.D.A. Proposes Guidelines for Salt Added to Food”:

The Food and Drug Administration proposed voluntary guidelines for the food industry to reduce salt on Wednesday [1 June 2016], a move long sought by consumer and public health advocates who said the standards could eventually help save thousands of American lives.”


“Americans eat almost 50 percent more sodium than what most experts recommend. High-sodium diets have been linked to high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.”


“While there has been some scientific controversy over how much to reduce sodium, scientists at the F.D.A. said the health advantages are beyond dispute.


If one follows the offered link to “some scientific controversy” one finds this report in the New York Times piece No Benefit Seen in Sharp Limits on Salt in Diet, by Gina Kolata, May 2013, regarding the Institute Of Medicine of the National Academies booklet-sized review of the entirety of modern science on salt intake and health titled “SODIUM INTAKE IN POPULATIONS: ASSESSMENT OF EVIDENCE” written by  its Committee on the Consequences of Sodium Reduction in Populations  issued in  2013  [free pdf].

Among the several findings and conclusions of this massive review is:

“Finding 2: The committee found that the evidence from studies on direct health outcomes was insufficient and inconsistent regarding an association between sodium intake below 2,300 mg per day and benefit or risk of CVD outcomes (including stroke and CVD mortality) or all-cause mortality in the general U.S. population.”

And further:

“…the committee found that the available evidence on associations between sodium intake and direct health outcomes is consistent with population-based efforts to lower excessive dietary sodium intakes, but it is not consistent with recommendations that encourage lowering of dietary sodium in the general population to 1,500 mg per day.”

Gina Kolata, the long-time NY Times Health journalist, summarized is this way:

“In a report that undercuts years of public health warnings, a prestigious group convened by the government says there is no good reason based on health outcomes for many Americans to drive their sodium consumption down to the very low levels recommended in national dietary guidelines.”

The American Journal of Hypertension, October 2013 issue, covered the topic extensively in this issue largely dedicated to the Salt Wars following on the Institute of Medicine’s 2013 report (mentioned and linked above).  The INTRODUCTION: The Salt Discourse in 2013,  written by Theodore A. Kotchen, characterizes the findings of the IOM report as:

The IOM report concluded the following:

  1. “The evidence   supports   a   positive relationship between higher levels of sodium intake and risk for CVD.”
  2. “The evidence  on  health  outcomes  is  not consistent with efforts that encourage lowering of dietary sodium in the general population to 1,500 mg/day.”
  3. “There is no evidence on health outcomes to support treating population subgroups differently  than  the  general US population.”


Yet, as we see reported on the first of June 2016, The Food and Drug Administration just issued guidelines to the processed food industry based on the assumption that “the health advantages [of population-wide dietary salt reduction] are beyond dispute”.

Are the health advantages of population-wide dietary salt reduction beyond dispute?

Hardly.  The latest salvo fired in what has long been called The Salt Wars1 was published last month, on 20 May 2016.  A huge international review study [paywalled] led by Professor  Andrew Mente, PhD, the title of which begins with “Associations of urinary sodium excretion with cardiovascular events….”,  in one of the world’s leading medical journals, The Lancet.  The study had a cohort of 133,000 individuals across 49 countries and was undertaken and written by  29 internationally recognized researchers, all PhDs and/or MDs.  Their published interpretation of its findings is:

“Interpretation:  Compared with moderate sodium intake, high sodium intake is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events and death in hypertensive populations (no association in normotensive population), while the association of low sodium intake with increased risk of cardiovascular events and death is observed in those with or without hypertension. These data suggest that lowering sodium intake is best targeted at populations with hypertension who consume high sodium diets.”  [emphasis mine – kh]


In an accompanying Comment [also paywalled] in the same issue of The Lancet,  Professor Dr. Eoin O’Brien of the Professor of Molecular Pharmacology, Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Research, University College Dublin, and past President of the Irish Heart Foundation writes:

“When apparent dogma is challenged, we should speak not of controversy but rather accede to the all-encompassing expression of so-called scientific uncertainty, so as to avoid unbecoming rhetoric. The issue of population strategies for salt consumption is a good case in point. There is no argument other than “excessive salt in the diet raises blood pressure”, and that strategies to reduce salt in individuals with hypertension prevent the cardiovascular consequences of the disease. However, the corollary that reducing sodium intake across populations will be beneficial to all, has been challenged with the assertion that doing so might indeed be harmful.”

Todd Neale reports bluntly on the study for (an industry supported news aggregator covering interventional cardiology news and education):

Consuming less than 3 grams of sodium per day is associated with a greater risk of all-cause death or major cardiovascular events compared with more moderate intake in both hypertensive and normotensive individuals, an observational study of more than 130,000 participants has shown. In contrast, consuming 7 grams or more per day is tied to worse outcomes in hypertensive patients only.

The findings conflict with advice by the American Heart Association (AHA) to consume no more than 1.5 grams of sodium per day.”

The Neale article continues with:

But Daniel Jones, MD [past President of the American Heart Association] (University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS), speaking to TCTMD on behalf of the AHA, which issued a public statement refuting the study, strongly disputed its results.

“This is a flawed study, and no health policy should be based on this study,” he said. It’s “difficult to do good studies, but the preponderance of the evidence is that most people eat too much sodium and that people’s general health will be improved by eating less sodium. This message that people should be concerned about eating too little sodium is just something that should not be taken seriously.”

Indeed, the American Heart Association fired back with a press release and web page titled “Experts criticize new study about salt consumption”.   Two experts, the current and immediately-past President of the AHA,  are quoted:

Mark Creager, M.D., president of the American Heart Association…..“The link is proven between excess sodium and high blood pressure, and I find it worrisome that adoption of the authors’ recommendations may reverse the progress that has occurred in modifying dietary sodium intake and reducing the risk of high blood pressure and its effect on heart disease and stroke,” Creager said. “Today’s widely accepted sodium recommendations are based on well-founded scientific research – and that’s what people should understand.”

Elliott Antman, M.D., associate dean for clinical/translational research at Harvard Medical School and senior physician in the Cardiovascular Division of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said the findings of the new study should be disregarded.

“This is a flawed study and you shouldn’t use it to inform yourself about how you’re going to eat,” said Antman, immediate past president of the AHA. “The AHA has reviewed the totality of the evidence and we continue to maintain that no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day is best for ideal heart health.”

So far, that’s three American Heart Association Presidents trotted out to attack the new study and its findings, which agree with and expand on the findings of the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine from 2013.


What in the world is going on here?


* * * * *


Let’s roll the clock back 15 years, to the turn of the century and look at this article from the New York Times Science section:   With Dietary Salt, What ‘Everyone Knows’ Is in Dispute by Abigail Zuger (NY Times, January 9, 2001).  Zuger leads with this:

“Diet fads may come and go, but low salt is forever. Or so, at least, any reasonable person might conclude from the consistent message in most guidelines over the last two decades: eat less salt.

But behind the official pronouncements rages one of the longest, most vituperative battles in medicine. It has continued despite a decades-long procession of ”landmark” studies, each designed to end the debate, and each only provoking more disagreement.”


Already, in 2001, the Salt Wars have been raging for decades.  Zuger outlines the battle lines for us:


“One set of scientists, backed by most of the country’s major health organizations, maintains that cutting back on salt is good for people, whether they have high blood pressure or not.

”Salt matters,” said Dr. Frank Sacks, an associate professor of nutrition and medicine at Harvard, who led the most recent study. ”The results are so clear-cut, there’s just not much controversy left.”

Dr. Jeremiah Stamler, an emeritus professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, who has spearheaded the anti-salt forces for decades, said that he himself stopped eating most salt in 1948.

”The question of salt is settled,” Dr. Stamler said. ”It’s a food additive we don’t need.”


And on the proverbial other hand:

“But other equally respected scientists still rally firmly behind the salted pretzel, maintaining that there are better tools for controlling blood pressure than salt reduction, and that low-salt eating may actually be harmful to health. [emphasis mine – kh]

”The problem is not so much whether we have too much salt in our diet as it is the deterioration of the American diet,” said Dr. David McCarron, a professor of medicine at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, who argues that salt makes little difference in blood pressure control when people eat balanced diets that emphasize fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. ”That’s really the issue.”

Dr. Michael Alderman, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx and past president of the American Society of Hypertension, said: ”I don’t believe there is any basis whatsoever for a public health recommendation for eating any particular sodium content diet. A scientific problem ought to be solved by data. And there is no data.”


Fifteen years ago,  the then-recent dual studies undertaken by the National Institutes of Health – called “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension” or the  DASH studies – had shown that blood pressure could be better controlled by eating a well-rounded diet high in fruits,  vegetables, and dairy.  This so-called DASH diet produced blood pressure reductions on the same level as blood pressure medications.   The second DASH study seemed to show that the DASH diet coupled with salt reduction produced even better results.  Both studies have been challenged by both sides of the Salt Wars, both sides interpreting the results in favor of their viewpoints.

“….Dr. Stamler of Northwestern said….[regarding] the findings of the second DASH study, ”there is no question that for everyone else [those who do not already have optimal blood pressure] there is a significant effect from lowering salt.”


“Not so, Dr. McCarron said. ”The most important finding in the second DASH study is the unequivocal evidence that the first step in blood pressure control should be adding things missing from the diet: the fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products,” he said. ”If people have to put their money down on a dietary intervention, the blood pressure response they will get from that is far better than from worrying about salt.”

[all quotes immediately above are from the Zuger NY Times piece – kh]


On a pragmatic level, the DASH studies found that “cutting back on sodium from 3,300 milligrams a day to 2,400 milligrams [note: this recommendation has since been dropped even further to 1,500 mgs/day – kh] lowered blood pressure in the study by an average of 2.1/1.1 for people who ate a normal diet. Changing to a DASH diet lowered their pressure substantially more, by 5.9/2.8, without any salt restriction at all.”  [included quote from the Zuger NY Times piece – kh]


Let’s look at that more closely.  A salt reduction diet, cutting back to 2,400 mg/day, for people with a normal diet, resulted in an average lowering of blood pressure (BP) of 2.1/1.1 (mmHg).  If your blood pressure (BP) was 150/95 (which was and is considered high), then,  on average, salt reduction to 2,400 mm/day would lower your BP to 147.9/93.9.  That amount of improvement does not stand up as a Minimal Clinically Important Difference – “The MCID defines the smallest amount an outcome must change to be meaningful to patients.”  In other words, no one’s high BP is cured by a reduction of 2.1/1.1, such a small reduction doesn’t improve a patient’s well-being or general state of health.    In fact, that is a fraction of the “white coat effect” which raises some people’s BP by 10 to 30 mmHg simply because their BP is being measured by a doctor – “The term white coat hypertension may be used if you have high blood pressure readings (i.e. readings that are consistently 140/90mmHg or above) only when you are in a medical setting.  Your blood pressure readings may be normal when they are taken at home.”



This brings us full circle back to the most recent Salt Wars salvo, the Mente et al. study in the latest issue of  The Lancet,  “Associations of urinary sodium excretion with cardiovascular events….”  [paywalled],  which, 18 years later,  confirms the findings of Alderman:  “Compared with moderate sodium intake, high sodium intake is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular [CV]  events and death in hypertensive populations (no association in normotensive population), while the association of low sodium intake with increased risk of cardiovascular events and death is observed in those with or without hypertension.”  In other words, while high sodium (salt) intake does increase the risk of CV or death in those who are already hypertensive (have high BP), enforced low sodium diets, population wide, will have overall negative health effects –  increasing risk of CV events and increasing risk of all-cause death – for everyone, without respect to  BP – the most optimum health outcomes are found with moderate salt intake regardless of BP status.


For the American Heart Association, and its allies who share its long-term anti-salt stance, these findings — no matter how scientifically sound, no matter how robust, no matter that they replicate and confirm earlier findings – are simply unacceptable.  The AHA has publicly stated that these findings should be “disregarded”.


Let’s take a break for a minute.  The information discussed so far represents a only a tiny bit of the vast literature involved in the Salt Wars.  I have purposefully steered clear of science journalist Gary Taubes and his work in the NY Times and in Science magazine, which together comprise the best summary of the Salt Wars up to mid-1998Taubes had written about the Salt Wars for more than two decades.  [He is perhaps more well-known for his efforts in the Obesity Wars.]   His work – on the pragmatic salt-is-salt side of the Wars – is legendary.   I have also avoided the opinions of and work by “The Salt Guru”, Morton Satin, who came out of retirement to be the Vice President of Science and Research at The Salt Institute, a non-profit trade association based in Alexandria, Virginia,   an association that taints his work in the eyes of many. (Before that, Satin spent sixteen years as the Director of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s Agribusiness Program.) Satin’s general view is that the salt debate is filled with shoddy science and outright misinformation.


In a funny aside – and many reading here will recognize this situation —  it has been reported that Satin has claimed Taubes won’t even take his phone calls for fear of becoming tainted by contact.  Taubes denies this.  But,  I mention it because,  as in other modern scientific controversies, “guilt-by-association” is rampant – a modus operandi practiced by all factions.



What We Know About Dietary Salt:

  1. Salt is an absolutely necessary element of the human diet – humans die without adequate salt intake.
  2. For most people, consuming a moderate amount of salt daily (2,500-5000 mgs) has no adverse effects.
  3. High blood pressure (BP) is associated with cardiovascular disease and risk of premature death.
  4. For almost everyone, eating more salt causes an increase in BP, but the increase is not clinically important, averaging around 2.1/1.1 mmHg.
  5. For a certain percentage of people, believed to be in the 10-15% range, who can be labeled “salt sensitive”, dietary salt causes higher BP and for those already suffering high BP and who have a high salt intake, dietary salt reduction combined with improved diet (the DASH diet – more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy, specifically) can help reduce BP to healthier levels.
  6. For most people, a diet too low in salt increases risk of cardiovascular events and increase risk of all-cause death.
  7. The science to quantify what constitutes “too low”, “moderate”, and “too high” regarding salt intake is best characterized as “somewhat uncertain”.


What We Know About Salt Politics:

  1. The Salt Wars have been raging for 30 years, at least.
  2. One side of the Salt Wars believes that because dietary salt increases BP (in most people just by a small amount) and causes a big increase BP in some people, coupled to the idea that high BP is associated with increased heart disease and risk of death, that governments should take action to reduce the salt intake of everyone – population wide – through regulation of the food industry, setting dietary guidelines, etc.  Arrayed on this side we find the American Heart Association, United Nations’ World Health Organization, and the US FDA. Many food and diet advocacy groups stand with the AHA against salt.  Taken together, these groups represent a view that consists of a “bureaucratically entrenched hypothesis advocating an enforced solution”.
  3. The opposition believes that the science is not adequate to mandate a population-wide reduction of salt intake, maintaining that, in addition to being not necessary, it will cause harm instead of good, increasing cardiovascular events and premature death among all groups. The majority of scientists on this side of the issue also hold that the DASH diet is far more effective in reducing high BP than salt reduction.
  4. Despite the mounting evidence of harm from population-wide enforced salt reduction, various government agencies have been passing rules, regulations, and guidelines to force the food processing industry and, most recently, in New York City, mandatory labeling of highly salted foods by chain restaurants.
  5. As in all modern scientific controversies, the faction occupying a societal Bully Pulpit, in this case the AHA, FDA, and WHO, has a huge advantage, even when the hard scientific facts are not on their side.   [“A bully pulpit is a sufficiently conspicuous position that provides an opportunity to speak out and be listened to…. a terrific platform from which to advocate an agenda.”]
  6. The Salt Wars are an exemplar of what can happen when a hypothesis is scientifically correct but its real-world overall effect becomes grossly exaggerated. This can lead to a “mandated solution” which is then sold as a cure-all for some existing problem. As the underlying science is in fact uncertain, scientists in support of this view must turn themselves into advocates to make their case.  Political advocates in turn pretend to be scientists, advising governments to enforce a “one-size-fits-all” solution on the whole society – even though it is probable that the claims of benefit range from uncertain, at best,  to  nonsensical [see footnote 2 for the my rationalization for this statement in the Salt Wars].


Modern scientific controversies, sub-category Science Wars, all follow a similar pattern and have common features.  As this series progresses, it will become obvious what these features are and the harm they cause to the reputation of Science and Scientists.


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  1. Please note that in all instances, the word salt in this essay, and in all  included quotes,  refers to common table salt, sodium chloride, in all of its customary forms found in kitchens, restaurants, grocery stores and food processing plants.  The use of the term “Salt Wars” does not originate with me but has been in common usage in science journalism for some time.  I offer this link: Scientific American – Health – The Salt Wars Rage On: A Chat with Nutrition Professor Marion Nestle in support of its use. (Nestle is pronounced like the action “to nestle”, Dr. Nestle is not related to the famous chocolate fortune family).  The term’s use in this essay (and SA) is not to be confused with the many actual armed conflicts over the ages and around the world that have shared the title Salt War.
  1. From the same source as Footnote 1, I quote Marion Nestle “I was once at a sodium meeting at which there were a bunch of statisticians. And I left with the statisticians and they said that “anyone who thinks that salt has anything to do with hypertension is delusional.” And that was on the basis on the clinical trials that show so little. And yet every single committee that has dealt with this question says, ‘We really need to lower the sodium in the food supply.’ Now either every single committee that has ever dealt with this issue is delusional, which I find hard to believe—I mean they can’t all be making this up—[or] there must be a clinical or rational basis for the unanimity of these decisions.” And “Everybody argues about every clinical trial no matter what the conclusion. So I find the whole thing completely fascinating.”

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Author’s Comment Policy: 

I have been sidelined for the last six-months by a heart attack that acted to reset my priorities somewhat.  I have, thankfully, fully recovered and spent a month sailing with family up the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, with my youngest son acting as Captain.

As always, I will be glad to answer your questions about the Salt Wars – which I have followed since the 1980s.   I am open to suggestions on which of the current Science Wars to cover in this series, I am aware of a half dozen or more.

I realize that many readers here will want to move on immediately to discuss the Climate Wars – one of the distinctive science wars of our day.  I ask that you please try to restrain yourselves – we’ll get to that later on in the series.

The last essay in the series will be an attempt to layout a coherent pattern of modern science wars and maybe suggest ways that the different science fields themselves can break these patterns and return their specific area of science back to the standards and practices that should exist in all scientific endeavors.


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354 thoughts on “Modern Scientific Controversies Part 1: The Salt Wars

  1. Nutrition “science” and climate “science,” unlike real sciences, seek to find evidence to support the prevailing dogma, whereas in a real science, every effort is made to disprove an hypothesis in an effort to ultimately confirm the validity of the hypothesis.
    If you wish to get angry reading a book on nutrition, read WHY WE GET FAT by Gary Taubes. The fraud and dishonesty within climate “science” has been the MO within the nutrition arena for the last 60 years of so.

    • Also, (longer, better) is “Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease”, by Taubes. This was written before “Why We Get Fat…”.
      SO glad you are bringing this up! I can hardly wait for your next essay. You are brave.

      • Geeze Louise,
        Solution is simple. Let the government have it’s say as to how much salt can be placed into goods prior to marketing then after you cook it, simply sprinkle a little additional Morton’s Iodized on your food.
        No Worries

      • re: Bryan’s salt-your-own-food proposal
        Where shall we start to catalog the flaws in that approach?
        1. Salt is not always added merely for taste but often as an essential component of the food processing/preservative function. Eliminating the option of salt will result in food manufacturers changing their formulation, perhaps adding other chemicals or processes which are worse.
        2. Allowing the government to set the rule means you are also letting them in to enforce the rule. That will lead to increased bureaucracy, regulation, delay and cost. All of those costs will eventually be passed on to the consumer in the form of higher food prices.
        3. The bully-pulpit demonization of salt will increase peer-pressure and make it more difficult for some fraction of the population to actually salt their food at the table to the degree that they desire. Some fraction of that will be thus pushed down into the low-salt ranges with net negative health results.
        4. Finally, that argument completely ignores the circumstances where the government controls the availability of voluntarily-added salt. I was a young LT during the first anti-salt craze. When our Brigade Commander had a heart attack and was put on a low-salt diet, he decided that the rest of us would benefit from low-salt too. Over the objections of the Brigade Surgeon, he ordered all salt shakers removed from all dining halls on the post (and ordered us junior officers to enforce the rule). Unlike the BC who mostly worked in an air-conditioned office, the soldiers were young and engaged in nearly constant hard physical labor outdoors. Our incidences of heat casualties shot up.

      • Jiminy Christmas Mike
        That is kind of the point
        Salt IS used as a preservative and once it is removed from production food Will spoil earlier (significantly earlier). Eliminating Salt won’t necessarily provoke a reformulation but could likely promote increased production facilities located closer to retail customers in order to avoid the incipient spoilage and decreased marketability.
        Like you, I too am for decreased Government involvement, in every aspect of life. Government bureaucracy everywhere leads to inefficiencies and increased prices, It is their major function.
        Personally, I don’t use salt but sodium seems to trickle in from numerous sources and is almost impossible to avoid. My mom on the other hand used to salt everything. We would joke that she would even salt her salt, perhaps this is why I don’t care for it very much.
        I am not in any way against salt as it IS necessary to stop dehydration as you stated, in fact use as much as you like, even salt your salt if you like but less sodium added to food initially might not be a bad idea.
        Do you like Pizza? Ever eat 1 slice of Pizza or do you have more like 2 or 3? I know I prefer 2 or 3 it is just too good.
        Ever make Pizza at home and it’s never quite the same?
        MSG or some of its sodium based derivatives is to thank. It Wakes-Up your taste buds and makes you Crave More.
        It is placed in most commercial pizza toppings that are distributed to major Pizza Restaurants. Not to preserve them but for the Craving Enhancement you get
        Now if you’ll excuse me, We are having Pizza for lunch and I don’t want to miss out……

      • Bryan,
        “Solution is simple.”
        Solution was not simple for me. Since I was kid, I would occasionally suffer excruciating muscle cramping, particularly calf “Charlie horses, which once literally almost caused me (an excellent swimmer) to drown. I craved salt, but was unaware of any relationship till well into my teens.
        I HAD to consume rather large amounts of salt daily to avoid great suffering. I eventually discovered a product called ‘Salt Lite’ which is about half potassium salt, which when used to supplement dietary intake reduced my “need” for salt supplementation by over half . . and then calcium/magnesium/zinc tablets, which reduced it by half again.
        Now, I still HAVE TO be very careful about adequate salt intake, but the amount of extra sodium salt needed is relatively small. I offer this personal “salt history” on the off chance that someone will benefit directly, or through advice by a reader to another.

      • John,
        Still sounds like the solution to your problem was to simply add more salt into your individual diet. Unfortunately for you though was the fact of the suffering you endured prior to your diagnosis and symptom relief through additional salt ingestion.
        Sometimes the solution to certain problems outweighs the risk associated with additional comsumption

      • Speaking of salting your salt, i have been accused of eating “salted ashes”!
        I am known to be able to eat food which has been overcooked to a degree most people would throw it away…but I just throw a little extra salt on it and munch happily away.

      • Bryan,
        “Still sounds like the solution to your problem was to simply add more salt into your individual diet.”
        No, sir . . and what I wrote was just a brief summary . . and I suggest you refrain from any more of your talk of “simple” in regard to my “solution”, lest I feel compelled to render yours an utterly discredited voice on this topic . . for the sake of people who are not nails suitable for your simplistic hammering.
        “Geeze Louise,
        Solution is simple. Let the government have it’s say as to how much salt can be placed into goods prior to marketing then after you cook it, simply sprinkle a little additional Morton’s Iodized on your food.”
        My food would have been rendered inedible if I did merely that, sir.

      • JohnKnight I am like you I need salt to keep cramps away. A few years back I did cut my salt intake down. After that I have spent many sleepless night with cramps. It has been only lately that when I awake with cramps I now drink salt water, gee with a few ounces of that I can go to bed and the cramps rapidly subside. Before I would consume more water only to have the problem of having to urinate more often the cramps remained and when a cramp and the need to urinate at the same time occur that is a painful proposition. Magnesium and potassium supplements help a little bit, yet in my case salt is the main cure. Presently I eating salted almonds in the evening even though I prefer raw almonds, the roasted salted almonds do keep the cramps away.

      • “Solution is simple. Let the government have it’s say…”
        Let the government ban the sale of firearms and then people can just make their own weapons after the governments had their say.
        Let the government ban coal and the people can just burn wood, simple.
        Let the government ban wood burning and the people can huddle en masse to keep warm, simple.

      • Mark,
        “…yet in my case salt is the main cure.”
        It still is for me too, I meant relatively small in terms of what I was consuming when it was my only cure . . A truly worrisome amount, given I thought salt itself was unhealthy (thanks Big Brother ; ) I mix regular salt with the half potassium stuff, so that it’s about one sixth potassium.

      • Salt doesn’t control blood pressure. Breathing and which muscles are tightened do
        The short form is I was “diagnosed” as prehypertensive, but “cured it” via brathing more and relaxing abdominal muscles… I tended to beath very shallow during BP readings. The heart compensates for lower air flow via higher blood flow…
        Just by doing deep breathing, or not, I can move BP high reading fromm 100 to 160 and back in 20 minutes.
        Maybe some folks are exceptionally salt sensitive, but most folks have working kidneys and skin and are not. When stacking cases of canned fruit in summer heat (110 F in the shade) we would sweat like crazy. Salt tablet dispensed near the water. Taking many, the sweat of my brow became salty enough to burn when it got in my eyes. Too few salt tablets, it was like fresh water… we can modulate salt excreation through our skin when hot or working out. It isn’t all just what goes in that counts.

    • There IS no “population-wide enforced salt restriction.” No person I have ever known has ever made the slightest attempt to eat within “government recommended guidelines.” The known influence of Big Ag alone makes all of their nutritional advice a poor joke. The only people truly affected are prison populations and anyone forced to eat school-provided lunches, perennially some of the nastiest food on Earth.
      Taubes BEST expose’ of the appallingly bad science which is rife in nutritional circles is his more technical book, GOOD CALORIES, BAD CALORIES. There is NO reason for anyone, EVER, to be eating “low-fat” anything! Humans evolved during the glaciations to live on fat and meat alone, much like the Inuit. Modern machine-processed refined grains and sugars, however, are a whole other thing, and Taubes posits they are the true elephant in the room of the “diseases of civilization.”
      The take-home info. is to minimize the percentage of processed, packaged food in our diet. But we knew that!
      Of course, no one ever mentions that across the world, populations are living much longer, better lives; the “health crisis” is REALLY caused by us now living long enough to die of the diseases of old age–and egregious medicalization of normal human life.

      • Innuit eat the stomach contents of the reindeer that the catch.
        The idea that we are designed to eat only meat and fats is wrong on so many levels. Meat does not provide all of the vitamins that our body needs.
        Read up on gout.

      • Living in glaciations or in other cold climate regions requires a higher caloric intake. Also, the daily expenditure of energy was much higher for hunter gathers. So the line “Humans evolved during the glaciations to live on fat and meat alone, much like the Inuit” makes little sense in today’s world. I once read a book by Covert Bailey titled “Fit or Fat”. This is the only book that got it right. His original stance was that it was the lack of exercise or hard physical labor that is the cause of ill health in modern humans. Unfortunately, Bailey eventually went over to the paid consult side and started endorsing ideas he was paid to express

      • “Meat does not provide all of the vitamins that our body needs.”
        “Both protein and fat are found in meat. Other micronutrients and vitamins can be found in the organs. So yes, you could survive off meat, and you may be fairly healthy if you’re willing to eat the liver, the heart, and eyeballs and such.”

      • Raised by hippies as I was, when I presented myself to the doctor and diagnosed with kidney stones, I was taken back a bit by his advice “cut back on the red meat, prawns, seafood and beer'” – things I did not eat. Needless to say when the thing passed it was analyzed and the advice as altered.. “No more leafy green vegetables (nooo!) no pepper, no tea.. eat more red meat” I had *never* expected to hear those words from a doctor but it turned out I had a serious problem with oxalates. And so again I had to alter my diet, learning to consume meat which had me gagging for the first few weeks. Once again things I thought I knew as facts turned out to be just crap I was taught when young that embedded themselves in my mind as ‘truth’.
        Later I had cause to alter my diet once again and take on a very high fat ketogenic diet which resolved the (giardia) problems rapidly, then I was free to return to my normal new meat diet. I passed the advice on to some overweight friends and they found themselves shedding weight and losing their taste for sugars and carbs too, once the bacteria driving them around like their own personal vehicles had been purged from their gut. Later I found studies on fecal transplants on mice inducing appetite changes (mice indifferent to chocolate become chocolate fiends when poop from chock-addict rats was introduced into their guts).
        One insulin dependent diabetic on this meat and fat only diet even found he was taking nearly no insulin any more, with ketogenesis generating sugar on demand and his pancreas not having to wrestle with dietary blood sugar levels! (seems the CSIRO has even jumped on this bandwagon though their variant isn’t so great). The only real downside is monitoring Vit B3 – a real danger on a meat only diet, zero sugar (even vegetable sugars) diet. But as I said, it was temporary for those of us who needed it.
        There’s a mass of stuff we never encounter until we look for it or until it affects us or those we know. MarkW I agree we do not need to eat meat only, we’re omnivores after all.. but a little open minded investigation sometimes finds us confronting things we knew to be facts. Giardia can kill – but giardia cannot survive in a gut with no carbohydrates in it. there’s a whole new field of research going on into how gut bacteria can be altering our foraging habits too – and it’s kind of freaky to think those little sods might be making us ill just so they can get whatever food *they* happen to like eating.

      • MarkW June 9, 2016 at 6:56 am
        You should read Good Calories Bad Calories – an experiment was run to prove that with two doctors as their own subjects only eating meat for a year with no apparent adverse effects.

      • those little sods might be making us ill just so they can get whatever food *they* happen to like eating.
        only 10% of the cells in your body share your DNA. The other 90% are foreigners that keep you around so long as you continue to feed them. Stop feeding them and they may well try and force you to change your mind.
        actually, this is not such a strange idea. there are plenty of parasitic organisms that complete their life cycle by altering the behavior of the host. is it such a stretch to imagine that, for example, gut bacteria that desire sugar would over time evolve to release enzymes and hormones that would make us hungry for sugar? look how quickly bacteria have evolved resistance to antibiotics. and is it such a stretch to imagine that these bacteria could be passed from individual to individual through fecal contamination of food and water?

      • Ian, a year is not that long. Some dietary deficiencies take longer than that to show up.
        There is still the issue of the needs of children, neither of those doctors was still growing when they did their “experiment”.
        The book you cite is just one more example of the awful mess dietary science has become.
        Two people did something. They didn’t die, so it automagically becomes the recommended thing for everyone else to do. Sheesh.

      • MarkW June 9, 2016 at 11:31 am

        Two people did something. They didn’t die, so it automagically becomes the recommended thing for everyone else to do. Sheesh.

        A Strawman argument Mark – that was not claimed nor stated. It weakens your possibly valid point on missing nutrients. Although a year is plenty long enough to get scurvy – and they didn’t.

      • Reply to Karl ==> Your comment presents us with a good lesson — having been told to “do this and that” BEFORE your kidney stone was analyzed resulted in the wrong medical advice — and yet, your doctor’s advice agreed with the standard treatment guidelines.
        On the other hand, at least your doctor had the stone analyzed and changed his advice based on evidence! refreshing — some doctors would have skipped that scientifically necessary step.

      • The claim was that humans are designed to live on a diet of only fat and meat.
        This book does not prove it.
        Additionally a book is not a study. I don’t know the gentlemen involved so I have no notion of how trustworthy they are in regards to their sticking to a 100% meat diet.
        Beyond that, two individuals are a sample that is way to small to have meaning.
        Finally, scurvy is not the only dietary problem associated with too much meat in a diet.

      • I am reminded of early Arctic explorers who died of scurvy when stuck in ice and unable to secure any food except what they were able to catch.
        What i found very interesting was the irony that, had they eaten their meat or blubber as the Inuit people do…raw…they would have not gotten scurvy and lived, as fresh fish, meat and blubber has plenty of vitamin C, but cooking destroys it.
        They died of ignorance, not lack of nutrients.

      • One must also have the accumulated wisdom of the paleo people to eat only a paleo diet. A couple of exampkes:
        Caribou adrenal glands contain lots of vitamin C. Divide it and share equally, raw, between tribe members to avoid scurvy. (muscle meat is not enough).
        Bears meat has tricinosis in it. Cook it well. Eat enough raw, you die. (Raw bear meat is what killed the Arctic party caught in the ice. They ran out of fuel to cook it, but kept hunting and eating. Their bodies were later found and tested, diagnosed with massive tricinosis. )
        Polar Bear Liver is very high in vitamin D. Eat more than a tiny amount and you get Vit D poisoning.
        I am sure this is barely touching the surface…
        Just eating fried cow steaks is not going to be healthy. (I joined a friend in an all meat diet once to give him moral support. It works for a few months, but cravings start ti rise as shortages build up. Benign ketosis does result in fat burning though…)
        We are remarkably flexible animals. I’ve done meat only for months. Vegetarian for months (some family vegan for years). At the end of it all, IMHO, eating broadly is better.
        In general, short gut length is found in carnivores, long in herbivores (to better ferment plants, longest in herbivores specialized in tough low nutrient leaves). We have a gut length in the middle range. Far shorter then herbivore Great Apes, so we have evolved away from our leaf eater predecessors, but longer than obligate carnivores and need plant fibre for propper gut function long term. We are not evolved to a meat only diet, but can get by on it. We are not evolved for a diet of only plants, but can make do on it for decades if needed, with some risks (read Trasition To Vegetarianism if headed that way. You must know what you are doing or you will have nutrient issues. B vitamins and essential fatty acids are not sufficient in beans and rice as just one example… then there are vit A issues for some folks and amino acid balance and… lets just say learning to add flax meal to bread is not something the average westerner bhas at the top of their food list… BTW, as mentioned, I cook vegetarian often and some family is vegan, so spare me the defensive vegetarian reflex…)
        In short, if you plan to just eat whatever is around, eat broadly. If you plan to eat very narrowly in either direction, it gets tricky fast. You are not a deer, nor a lion, and have very different dietary needs than them, and different abilities… (You can’t make your own Vit C like the them, but can make your own taurine, unlike the cats… who must eat eyes and organs to get it).

      • MarkW,
        I know you don’t care much about anecdotal evidence, but my spouse is a very sick person. She was plagued with constant urinary tract infection all the way up to the kidneys by diverse antibiotic resistant strain of bacteria and having recuring kidney stones. Frequent candida infection, chronic pain, had problem with C. difficile due to antibiotics, thus taking a lot of pills…
        One day we decided to go “our way” and stop following advice from all those charlatan called doctors. We stopped all medications and tried a ketogenic diet (very low carb diet based on meat and fat). About ten days later, the urinary tract infection disapeared, then chronic pain gradually went away. No more resurgence of kidney stones, no more candida or infection of all sort.
        This experiment have been ongoing for more than 2yrs now and no recurrence of all the previous problems and no deficiency of any kind (we do blood analysis from time to time). Never taken antibiotics or pain medication since then.
        You may cling to your belief that low carb diet is not optimal for the human race, but there is plenty of example of person who have improved their health considerably by stoping eating carb. I have heard many case story and don’t need a book to back this.

      • MarkW, in fact what Golrider wrote did not claim we are carnivores. We are however omnivores and we can at need survive as pure carnivores, provide we get enough fat. Excessively lean animals can lead what is known as “Rabbit Starvation” ( Being pure vegetarian is in fact a much more fraught practice for humans and your typical vegan could not survive without the globally based range of vegetables we now have access to. If civilization collapsed, vegans would vanish quickly. The Americas could never have been colonized during the Pleistocene without the capability of turning pure carnivore. The far north is largely devoid of edible plants and fruit for most of the year and does not produce enough to support siginificant populations reliably. Northern Athabascan folk lore is filled with stories about starvation and the need for meat. The Inuit took advantage of what was available as did the Northern Athabascans and the Aleuts. One particularly noteworthy vitamin neceesity that proves our need is vitamin D. There are very, very few sources of vitamin D among plants, fruits and nuts. In fact, the only good plant source is some mushrooms. Vitamin D is essential for melanin and helps prevent skin cancer.
        E.M. Smith, the toxic vitamin in polar bear liver is vitamin A (retinol), not D. Some is good for your night vision; too much can be a problem. IIRC the form in polar bear liver is not standard retinol and is much more toxic.

    • Reply to JohnTyler and Hazel ==> John and Hazel point up Gary Taubes’ important books that comprise his efforts in the Obesity Wars.

    • John,
      Read “The Trouble with Physics” and you’ll see that the problems are affecting “real” science as well. Unprovable hypothesis abound in much of what passes for theoretical physics today, it would seem.

      • TonyG. What you say sounds reasonable. Aren’t dark matter and dark energy just hypothetical constructed to support the physicists (astro-, etc.) models of the universe?

        • Leonard,
          As I understand it, at least Dark Matter and Dark Energy theories make predictions that can be falsified. I recall reading something in the past year about some research that may have found at least some of the expected evidence for Dark Matter.
          You can argue about the theory, and it’s very possible the theory isn’t correct, despite making correct predictions (THAT is certainly a part of science) – but I’m ok with it as long as they stay in the realm of the testable.
          String theory begins to venture into realms beyond this universe, especially as you get into the ‘brane’ theories – ideas which are, by their very nature, untestable. That’s getting into the realm of metaphysics. I find it a simple matter: If it cannot be supported or falsified by evidence, it isn’t science, and much of theoretical physics seems to be getting into the realm of the untestable. They take their theories on faith, because the theories are ‘pretty’. Feynman had something to say about that.

      • The problem with physics is that “laws” like Newton’s law of gravity, which work well here on earth and within the solar system, fail at greater scales. Observed rotation rates of galaxies indicate angular momentum to high for the galaxies to hold together. The estimated mass of a galaxy is insufficient to permit the speeds of stars out near the galactic rims. Under both Newtonian and General Relativity, the galaxies should be flying apart like over-taxed flywheels. The solutions are either Modified Newtonian Gravity, which adds a small tweak to Newtonian gravity, or to add “parameters” to GR. Since these parameters need to be hung on something: dark matter was introduced to deal with same issue by providing as “mass” that can’t be seen. In short, the necessary amount of dark matter is inferred from the excess angular momentum by calculating how much mass a galaxy would really need to remain intact. As solutions go it sucks because among other things you need to tailor the estimate to each individual galaxy.
        Dark energy is an attempt to deal with observational problems that appear to show that the universe initially expanded much more rapidly than thermal energy and gravity interacting would permit in GR. Newtonian physics has no such problem. Dark energy was coined to account for the so-called “inflation.”
        Dark matter has some potentially detectable consequences that can be treated as “predictions.” Dark energy less so. There are a number of alternative theories that purport to cover the observational data that creates these problems, but they not only compete with GR and Newtonian models, they also compete with each other, with no obvious advantages except admitting we can see stuff we can’t explain, they remain firmly minority theories.
        Resistance to even considering alternatives to the Standard Model in cosmology has two very influential basic drivers. The bigger is that, if so-called cosmogenic red shift is not due to expansion of space time, then astronomers and cosmologists lose the biggest ruler they have. Red shift is the only means of determining the distance of truly remote objects – but, only if their red shifts are really due to distance. If observed red shifts are not due to distance and an expanding universe, everything is down the drain and literally billions of dollars are being spent to support broken physical theory. The other issue is that a “big bang” universe is more consistent with the religious/philosophical expectations of Christianity, Judaism and Islam (they are really brothers under the skin). It is not a coincidence that many names associated with alternative theories, names like Narlikar, derive from the Indian subcontinent where religious belief acknowledges a cyclic pattern of existence.

    • My mother ate a traditional, English, vitamin-free, diet of fat, salt, and sugar in more or less equal quantities.
      She died this February, just few weeks short of her 101st Birthday.

    • Come on man. Discussing whether we should or should not reduce super high consumption of salt is a distraction from the real issue which is the ‘Western’ diet is the cause of the majority of the health issues in the US and other developed and developing countries.
      Surely no intelligent, informed person questions the assertion that the majority of the US health care costs are to treat dietary disease.

      In the HBO documentary The Weight of the Nation, it was noted that if you “go with the flow” in the US, you will eventually become obese.1 In 2011, Witters reported that in some areas of the country, the rate of obesity is 39% and is increasing at a rate of 5% per year.2 Risks of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease, along with their ensuing complications (eg, behavioral health and quality-of-life problems) often go hand-in-hand and are strongly linked to lifestyle, especially dietary choices.3 Of all the diets recommended over the last few decades to turn the tide of these chronic illnesses, the best but perhaps least common may be those that are plant based.

      The diet problem is holistic. A change to reduce or eliminate an incorrect diet item will not prevent the dietary caused disease. The diet diseases are prevented by a significant, holistic change in diet, not a tiny change or an isolated change.
      The logic why this statement is true is explained in the parable of the tiny parachute.
      The US diet is 10 times too high in sugar consumption, meat consumption, dairy consumption, egg consumption, and so on. Arteriosclerosis (blockage causes heart disease, dementia and damage to other organs due to lack of blood flow) and type 2 diabetes can be almost eliminated with a change in diet. The incidence of the common cancers can be reduced by a factor of three with a change in diet. This has been known for at least 20 years. In the last 8 years many of mechanisms have been worked out to explain why this is true.
      The problem is not determining the optimum diet. The problem is there are layers and layers of special interest groups that profit from selling us the dietary items and treating us for the dietary diseases.

      Lifestyle Medicine and the Parable of the Tiny Parachute
      Imagine that the utility of parachutes was as yet unproven, and the task of proving their worth falls to us. We design an experiment accordingly. Parachutes are attached to — well, we can go with wine bottles; or ceramic eggs; or real eggs for that matter; or people if we are feeling brave — and these objects are tossed out of airplanes. A remote control device deploys the parachutes — and we land to ascertain what we’ve wrought.
      We find a mass of broken glass and splintered eggshells. Let’s hope we didn’t involve any live volunteers, or we would also find a jumble of mangled bodies. And so it is proven that parachutes are useless.
      But we know that isn’t true. What if our parachutes were ridiculously tiny, each the size of a postage stamp? Or what if they were opened too late, each deployed within mere inches of the ground? Or maybe they were both too little and too late.
      In that case, our experiment actually tells us nothing about the value of parachutes. It simply tells us that too little is too little, and too late is too late.
      And so it is with lifestyle medicine. Of course it works, when it’s good medicine, timely, and dosed appropriately. The parable of the tiny parachute reveals that what might in fact be a highly effective intervention done right can be an entirely useless intervention done wrong. We are mostly doing it wrong.

      Refined Sugar Consumption Trends in Past 300 Years:
      • In 1700, the average person consumed about 4 pounds of sugar per year.
      • In 1800, the average person consumed about 18 pounds of sugar per year.
      • In 1900, individual consumption had risen to 90 pounds of sugar per year.
      • In 2009, more than 50 percent Americans consume 1/2 pound of sugar per day, which is 180 pounds of sugar per year (ten times more than the amount of sugar consumed in 1800).
      In 1890, the obesity rate in the US for white males, age group 50′s only, were 3.4%. In 1975, the obesity rate in the US of all population was 15%. In 2009, 32% of Americans are obese. In 1893, there were fewer than 3 diabetes per 100,000 people in US. Today, there are 8,000 diabetes per 100,000 people in US (roughly 1 in 10).
      Due to increased consumption of sugar particularly among young minority adults the incidence of diabetes is expected to increase from 1 in 10 in the US to 1 in 3. Type 2 diabetes was once a disease of middle age; now 30% of all new cases of type 2 diabetes in the US are adolescences, due to the extraordinary consumption of sugary drinks and fatty foods.

      The toxic truth about sugar, Nature February, 2012
      Last September, the United Nations declared that, for the first time in human history, chronic non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes pose a greater health burden worldwide than do infectious diseases, contributing to 35 million deaths annually. This is not just a problem of the developed world. Every country that has adopted the Western diet — one dominated by low-cost, highly processed food — has witnessed rising rates of obesity and related diseases. There are now 30% more people who are obese than who are undernourished. Economic development means that the populations of low- and middle-income countries are living longer, and therefore are more susceptible to non-communicable diseases; 80% of deaths attributable to them occur in these countries.

      • The notable thing about the US diet is that the “common” diseases from which the typical US citizen suffers and that are believed to relate to diet are diseases, which in the last half of 19th century were regarded as diseases associated with poverty – that is, associated with a diet rich in cheap carbohydrates and sugar. When you consider the distribution of these problems within the population, plainly there is still a stronger association with the poorest “homed” portions of the population. The expansion of these problems within the US population correlates with the decline of the middle class and the corresponding shift in spending from higher quality foods to “consumer goods” like throw-away clothes and shoes, cell phones and annual computer upgrades.

    • “If you wish to get angry reading a book on nutrition, read WHY WE GET FAT by Gary Taubes. The fraud and dishonesty” – wouldn’t such arrangement be a perfect match?
      Here – what he is after:
      What happenes when he gets into the debate with a pro? He loses.
      Notice the words “Usually, the only times we see Gary Taubes is either in some friendly (i.e., “low-carb”) environment, or bullying mild, reasonable people with his boorish behaviour. No one gets an opposing word in edgewise, or he stonewalls against any reasonable questions.”
      One time he tried to attack a typical nice guy – Stephan Guynet – with a crazy pretense that he hadn’t learnt enough about the details of some obscure, marginal Indian population. Stephan (a real researcher) surprisingly managed to pull out an information that they went from a traditional diet rich in natural foods like beans to eating junk food like frybread as their staples. A great explaination, but wasn’t enough for Gary. He really wants us to know a lot of details about Pimas, that’s so crucial for him.

      So Stephan learnt more about Pima, and put it in a witten form. Gary went silent…
      “Pima, 20th century. The Pima of New Mexico currently have one of the highest obesity rates in the world, on par with Nauru. It is rather ironic that Taubes uses them as an example in GCBC, when they are at odds with his hypothesis. The Pima were first contacted in 1539 by the Spanish, who apparently found them to be lean and healthy. At the time, they were eating a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet based on corn, beans, starchy squash, and a modest amount of gathered animal and plant foods from the forest and rivers in the area. In 1869, the Gila river went dry for the first time, and 1886 was the last year water flowed onto their land, due to upstream river diversion by settlers. They suffered famine, and were rescued by government rations consisting of white flour, sugar, lard, canned meats, salt and other canned and processed goods. They subsequently became obese and have remained that way ever since. Their diet consisted mostly of bread cooked in lard, sweetened beverages and canned goods, and they also received salt. More recently, their diet has modernized but still relies heavily on processed food”
      (notice they become obese after getting salt rations among some junk food)
      The group that Taubes avoids the most are high-carb vegans. These people eat diets as high as 75% – 80% carbohydrates, 10% fat, and 10-15% protein. And they are extremaly thin, usually both in body fat as well as having low muscle mass. Think Neil Barnard, Caldwel Esselstyn, John McDougall. They falsify Gary’s hypothesis by their sheer figure!

  2. I have a vague recollection of seeing a paper back in the 1980s which suggested that it was the chloride in table salt that was potentiallya problem rather than the sodium, but have no idea whether that idea gained traction. But given the conflicting advice on diet (think saturated fats, cholesterol, margarine v butter, red wine, chocolate) perhaps all such advice should be taken with a pinch of salt.

    • With “Salt” being NaCl – Sodium chloride, the two rather go hand in hand, I’d certainly shy away from NaOH. I wonder if NaF will be one of the topics discussed?

    • Reply to DaveS ==>Very astute. “…all such advice should be taken with a pinch of salt.”
      The current thinking runs along the lines that it is the balance of sodium, magnesium, and potassium that help regulate blood pressure.
      It pays to remember that the fluid that makes up your blood is salt water — when you lose blood due to an accident or surgery, they plug in tubes to fill you back up with Normal Saline solution

      • I vaguely remember back in the late 60’s or early 70’s, when the “salt” problem first came to the attention of the public, a television programme being broadcast on the subject. It was not merely a documentary but included a small experiment regarding salt intake.
        It stated that evidence suggested that high salt intake was associated with hypertension but noted at least one glaring exception. This was the diet of some northern Japanese people was very high in salt but they demonstrated very low incidence of high blood pressure. It was noted that these people also had a diet very rich in potassium due to their high fruit content diet (mainly apples).
        The experiment I previously referred to was undertaken by 2 small communities, one in Australia and the other in New Zealand. The brief was for the participants to add as much salt to their diets as they could manage. The Australian cohort exhibited markedly elevated blood pressure after a few days and the experiment was immediately called off. The New Zealand cohort showed no change in blood pressure even after 2 or 3 months. This different response was not explained.
        When some years later I lived in Australia as opposed to New Zealand I found that salt is not the same everywhere. In New Zealand all salt was sea salt and table salt was iodised, by law, with potassium iodate. In Australia the salt was rock salt and iodised with sodium iodide. Sea salt has a higher potassium content than rock salt. Thus New Zealand salt had a far higher proportion of potassium than Australian salt.
        My hypothesis thus became that sodium:potassium ratio was more important than mere sodium intake and that the ideal sodium:potassium ratio should be 28:1 in moles. Blood plasma contains has a sodium:potassium ratio of this order.
        However I am not and never have been a biomedical scientist so my thoughts are just that, thoughts in the aether.

        • Reply to Richard of NZ ==> If you read through the comments, you’ll find that regulation of BP has been cited as a complex interaction of several different elements: sodium, potassium, magnesium and others.

      • Since rock salt is dried up seawater from a long time ago, and buried for a long time underground…i have always wondered about the supposed difference.

      • When a sea evaporates, different salts precipitate at different levels of evaporation. Selective crystallization can be used to purify salts to a very high degree. Lithium, for example, is rare in sea water and rocks, but concentrated in shallow dry lake beds inland from mountains in deserts, by just that process.
        So depending on how the sea water evaporates, you can have many salts mixed, or highly pure salt of just NaCl. Fast 100% evaporation in shallows gives “sea salt”. slow evaporation over centuries, beds of pure salt types. Slow brine leaching and redeposition can separate and purify both the source and the destination beds.

    • Those of us who have been around for a while know that they keep changing the advice on what is good for you and what isn’t. In fifties, cakes and sweets were bad for you. In the sixties, anything with cholesterol. In the seventies, they decided meat was bad and we all needed more fibre and should eat reconstituted doormats. In the eighties and nineties they began rethinking fibre and started sneaking meat back in again.
      But I’m sticking with the idea that red wine and chocolate are essential foodstuffs.

      • I bet some of the rethinking was the result of eating those reconstituted doormats. My grandmother had these nasty cracker things that were kind of like shredded wheat or Triscuits, but more “health-foodie”. (I think a doctor may have suggested them, but this was in the late 80s to early 90s, so my memory is a bit fuzzy.) She would eat one or two a day as I recall, but I tried one once and wanted to scrub my tongue. THAT part of my memory is all too sharp.
        The constantly changing advice (butter and margarine, eggs, etc.) has led me to conclude that eating a wide variety of foods, all in moderation, is the healthiest and safest strategy. Some people will need to adapt their eating due to various factors, but the general population does not need to fear most foods. I have looked over the causes of death, health problems, and ultimate ages of relatives over the last century or so. Most made it to their 70s or later. There are a few outliers, but generally speaking, even with heavy smoking (on one side) and “country” eating, they did (do) pretty well. I suspect part of it is the more active lifestyles and manual labor.
        Interestingly, my paternal grandfather died at 66 of stomach or intestinal cancer. He was a runner, ate really healthily, never smoked, etc. Everyone in the family sort of threw their hands up in the air. Why bother, may as well eat steak and chocolate and veg on the couch!

  3. The dietary fat/carbohydrate wars are another similarly fascinating topic. Gary Taubes has a large role in that controversy as well because he wrote a brilliant book on the history of the science of obesity and heart disease, “Good Calories, Bad Calories.” Those who have followed the climate wars will find many compelling parallels in that story. Anyone interested generally in the history and philosophy of science, the science-policy relationship, and the science of obesity and heart disease will find it a fascinating read. The former consensus against dietary fat and protein is in pell-mell retreat, and that is entertaining in its own right.
    A significant difference between the consensuses against salt and dietary fat and protein on the one hand and the climate “consensus” on the other is that the climate consensus is even more political, tribal and partisan. This is because the climate issue is a more powerful lever to vastly increase the power of government and regulate virtually every aspect of human life and industrial civilization, and there will always be a ready audience for that agenda, whatever the pretext. In the 70s it was global cooling, now it’s global warming. Both had the same cause – man – and the same solution – radical expansion of government power. The attractiveness to some of the “solution” guarantees the climate scam will persist well beyond the expiration of any scientific justification – because at a fundamental level and in large part it’s not about the science.

    • There is actually now significant overlap between the two issues. Knowing that the “health” argument against meat-eating is fading, the new meme is to eat less meat “to Save the Planet,” frequently arguing from a “carbon footprint” standpoint we know to be specious. At this point nutrition, like climate, “science” is beside the point–and is being suppressed precisely because it does not push The Narrative.

  4. The salt wars fits in with the overall shift in health that is part of the UN’s post-2015 SDGs that make subjective wellbeing instead of the disease model an official focus of governmental policy all over the world. There is really nothing about our lives that is not the government’s business in this analysis. In the name of mental health we get education tracking neurological processes in health brains and monitoring what practices can change neural processing and in what ways.
    It’s all an Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove with all of us on the planning menu for transformational change with governments and the UN in charge of what is to be deemed ‘best’ for us. No need for consent and active deceit surrounding the intentions unless we know where to find the reports from those conferences we are not invited to.

    • +100, Robin! Take a look at today’s “primary care.” Very little to do with treating, let alone curing, objectively experienced “ailments” or diseases, it’s become nearly 100% about “risk factors” used as a lever to force us into medicalization by declaring that everyone’s “surrogate markers,” (measurable numbers for BP, blood sugar, BMI, lipids, etc.) meet subjective standards largely agreed upon by industry leaders financed by pharmaceutical, medical device, and corporate hospital and physician groups who ratchet those “acceptable” numbers lower every year, thereby redefining thousands of ordinary, healthy people into groups who can be considered “ill” and treatable. Follow the money!
      Read Dr. Nortin Hadler’s book Worried Sick, Joseph Dumit’s Drugs For Life, and any and all books by Dr. Gilbert Welch with collaborators Woloshin and Schwartz. YOU WILL BE ABSOLUTELY FLOORED.
      Today, the only way to protect yourself from the dangerous nonsense is to engage with the medical industry only as needed, when faced with a “primary complaint” for which useful treatment exists. The rest? You’re quite likely (by the numbers!) to live longer and better without it.

      • What they are REALLY trying to enforce is a certain, politically-correct but unpleasant and needlessly expensive and arduous “lifestyle” that flies in the face of nearly every instinct we have as humans.

  5. Well, at least the CAGW issue has a way to put the CAGW controversy to rest: The Thermometer.
    Although it may take a while.
    It’s a problem when you have two sets of scientists arguing the opposite sides of an issue. The only solution is more data.

  6. 1st off, glad you made it through your heart attack in good shape, Kip.
    2nd – I read your article clear through before commenting and I’ve come to the conclusion…
    I better read it again. I had no idea until recently that there was a controversy. I need to get up to speed.

  7. Sincere Thanks for a wonderful, clearly written, well-paced piece. I look forward to the next one!

    • Reply to P J Brennan ==> Would you like to suggest which Science War to highlight next?

      • Mpcraig @ 10:10
        About red wine:
        On average, red wine will have 125 calories and 6 mg. Sodium in 5 fl. oz.
        A 1.86 oz. Snickers Bar has 250 calories and 120 mg. of Sodium.
        When at 4,000 feet elevation working on hiking trails I go for the Snickers Bar. With dinner the red wine seems the better choice.
        Skip the morning doughnut (200 cal.) and refrain from eating a big dinner and have the wine.

      • Is red wine good for you?
        Today yes. Tomorrow no. Next week, maybe.
        Do I qualify for a degree in dietary science yet?

      • Hi mpcraig, – Sad to report a 9 yr. 783 cohort of age 65+ non-nursing home living men & women (in Chianti, Italy region) got no “… substantial influence on inflammation, cardiovascular disease, cancer or longevity…” from red wine reservatol. As per (2014) “Reservatrol in red wine , chocolate, grapes not associated with improved health”, by Dr. of medicine Semba from John Hopkins U.
        Furthermore, L. Gliemann of Copenhagen U. gave age 65+ men reservatrol (dose 250 mg., red wine reservatrol content ranges ~ 1.5 – 3.0 mg/Lt.) in an exercise regimen. Those who got no reservatrol, but just the placebo dose, had decrease in blood pressure (which reservatrol cohort diidn’t see) & on average 45% more (maximum) uptake of oxygen. I wish to add that the test did not use red wine & isolated reservatrol without other compounds in wine was not what we imbibe. As per (2013) “Reservatrol blunts the positive effects of exercise training on cardiovascular health in aged men”. This only had 27 men (previously inactive, but healthy); still after exercise regimen those on reservatrol didn’t get the same degree of triglyceride reduction as those on placebo & the reservatrol cohort also didn’t raise their beneficial vaso-dilation assisting compound (prosta-cyclin) as much either.

      • @mpcraig
        Yes, red wine, and especially Australian red, is good for you.
        Don’t listen to gringojay. He/she is just a denier, no doubt funded by Big Water.

      • I can tell you the next one that is only dimly on the event horizon- sugar. The problem with sugar is that there is not one “sugar” but two and they both operate differently in the human body. Sucrose, or white sugar, has been around as a sweetener forever (along with Honey) while High Fructose Corn syrup came about because of the shift from fat in processed food along with the government tariffs on cane sugar..
        Sucrose, cane sugar, is comprised of Glucose and Fructose. The body splits the chemical bond and processes both until it does not need any more then leaves it as sucrose. But HFCS, a nearly equal amount of free Fructose and Glucose so floods the body and it cannot regulate either so stores it as fat.
        If you look at the time when HFCS took the place of both sucrose and fat, it marks the time when the obesity epidemic started.
        When I was a kid I lived on Coca-cola and at 18 was still thin as were my friends but that was before HFCS.
        Taubes books are persuasive.

      • Hi RoHa,- Not very scientific of you to give what reads, to me at first, like an incompletely thought out personal denigration late in
        this thread. The research I cited can be typed into a computer search function & then you can ascertain if I have said anything different or edited in my personal opinion. If you have previously
        sought to discuss any of my prior thread comments I apologize
        for not having seen those specifically & been able to address your own input.

      • Reply to grinojay ==> I think RoHa’s “Don’t listen to gringojay. He/she is just a denier, no doubt funded by Big Water.” was intended as a joke — made me laugh out loud….

      • gringojay, I just did a survey of all ( all, not just a sample) the red wine drinkers in my immediate vicinity. They all agreed that red wine is good for you. That a 100% consensus! Is that sciencey enough for you?

  8. BTW, after reading the various opinions on salt, from the various scientists, I don’t think I need to worry about my salt intake.

    • We don’t need to worry about 98% of the crap we’re constantly exhorted to worry about–it’s all to either put us under someone’s control or sell us something we don’t need, and usually it’s both!

      • On that point, in order to keep us constantly scared, Environment Canada started issuing “Heat Warnings”. Tuesday was forecasted (and indeed reached) 29°C. We were told on the radio, TV, and internet that we were under a “heat warning”. Guess what? I know that 29°C is hot. So does everyone else (in metric countries). We don’t need your warnings to scare old ladies. The governments of our countries are always looking for new ways to scare us.

      • If you want to worry about something, worry about the advance of trans-national Collectivism and the their muscle in political Islam. I assure you, they will kill you or severely impair your life.
        The on-going CAGW push for regulation and ‘carbon tax’ is merely one way the trans-national Collectivists at the UN wish to fund their eradication of national sovereignty. Of course, socialists looked at National Socialism and decided that it was the Nationalism that was the problem and not the Socialism that oppresses the Individual in favor of the Collective. So they are blind to the quarter billion people oppressed and killed by their own socialist governments in peacetime: National Socialism, Soviet Socialism, Maoist Socialism, North Korean Socialism, North Vietnamese Socialism, Cuban Socialism, East German Socialism, Hungarian Socialism, Czech Socialism, Ba’athist Socialism, Venezuelan Socialism (today starving people in an oil rich country). Can you something that might connect these mass-murdering regimes? the socialists of the West and UN are blind to any connection.
        Here is Senator Inhofe explaining why the UN wants its carbon taxes, regardless of what the science says (because it is not about science, but about funding Collectivism and One World Government, which they think will avoid nuclear war but will actually enhance the risk of rebellion):

        See the control-freaks in their own words:
        If you are worried about the salt you are not looking at the actual main threat to your health (as Europeans are rapidly finding out).

      • That is absolutely the best addendum to this long, but well written post. Most of us no longer have many REAL worries or concerns, so we tend to easily fall victim to the fear mongering propaganda that is incessantly spewed at us from every corner of life nowadays. I think the best book I’ve read about salt intake, as well as the various topics brought up in the comments, was “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry” by Dr. Dean Edell. Like many others have said, a healthy life depends not so much on limiting the kinds of things you eat or your ratio of this substance to that. Eat as balanced a diet as you can and don’t live a sedentary lifestyle. The rest will take care of itself if you do. Of course, there are diseases and disorders that require some to limit certain things. I fully understand that. But, even in those cases, simply doing your best at eating a balanced diet and moving around a bit can help tremendously.
        My relatives were hard Appalachian folk from the hills of West Virginia. They ate a lot of red meat, chicken, pork, fat, carbohydrates, any sugar they could get their hands on. They smoked, chewed tobacco, did sniff’n’snuff, drank copious amounts of dandelion wine and moonshine. But, they also grew their own fruits and vegetables and consumed them along with all the “bad” foods. Most lived to be in their late 80’s to mid 90’s. There were very few exceptions to that rule, and the vast majority of those exceptions were due to accidents or otherwise unrelated to “health.” The main difference between them and many of those who eat a diet similar to theirs, but without the fruits and vegetables is that they worked hard all day every day. They ate butter, but they had to churn it first. They drank moonshine, but had to grow and harvest the potatoes and/or corn used to make it. They ate red meat and pork, but raised the animals. They spent a lot of time tending to gardens, harvesting and canning or otherwise preserving their fruits and vegetables to eat throughout the year.
        As Goldrider said, disregard the rules and guidelines issued by people who are too ignorant to realize how wrong they are, despite the fact that they believe they are our intellectual superiors and justified in their desire to control our lives. Add to that a nice long walk, jog, bike ride, sport, or other physical activity of your choice and feel the stress leave your system. You’ll feel better, have more energy and maintain a better sleep cycle.
        I won’t even get into the fact that any of the “population” studies of diet, medicine, or anything else related to health completely miss the fact that each of us has slightly different biochemistry and genetic traits and therefore specific needs because of it. I’ll stay off that soapbox until part2…

    • Reply to TA ==> You are correct — you don’t need to worry about your salt intake. There are issues that might be of concern — very high blood pressure is a sign of something seriously wrong with your body, and should not be ignored. Your doctor, in that case, is sure to tell you to reduce your salt intake. If you have high blood pressure and high salt intake (> 7000 mgs/day), a recommendation for dietary salt reduction is in line with research findings. If your doctor is up-to-date on his continuing education, he should recommend some version of the DASH diet combined with reasonable salt reduction.

    • Interestingly I hear goiter is on the rise in the West again as bottled water and salt reduced diets is condemning the salt-avoiders to a diet free on iodine. That’s a nasty thing to reintroduce.. there’s some discussion about what they should stick iodine in to ensure it remains in the population diet if it’s not taken in with salt. Mind you having watched my wife go through a life threatening bout of Grave’s disease (sleeping heart rate of 180, utterly irrational, fainting and de-calcification of her bones) I’d not want to see TOO much iodine artificially added to food either.

  9. Very interesting reading. Thank you for your research. I need more time to click’n read all the links.
    I would love to hear your opinion regard of the “fat and sugar war” or should we call it a ‘fast-food energy war’
    Born in Europe, I love my pork… fat. Speck, sausage etc. I cook with fat (lard) …and watching how it’s demonized 30-40 years ago… replaced by sugar.

    • Reply to Mick ==> I plan an essay on the Obesity Wars as part of this series. The Fat and sugar Wars, while they have lives of their own, are part-and-parcel of the larger, more encompassing Obesity Wars.

    • Reply to View from the Solent ==> Thank you for linking to Junk Food Science. Those of us who have followed health and nutrition issues over the last couple of decades are aware of the wonderful work done by Sandy Szwarc . Her insights and efforts are missed.
      Sandy Szwarc represents the high standard of scientific ethics needed in science and medical journalism. I salute her and wish her well.

  10. 🙂 thyroid/Goitre issues are on the rise due to NON Iodised salt being used again. generations have forgotten WHY we Iodised salt. I find most commercial foods too salty, but I dont eat much of them and if using them add no salt at table.
    pubs always used salty free nibbles to encourage sales of their beverages.
    I DO hope you are planning to cover the FAT wars too?
    I chuckled at the LOWFAT Dairy advice above..
    same as with salt, the remove fats touted as best science is now showing to be less than best advice and probably harmful. as are the truly ridiculous Statin meds.
    the massive sugar use however..does need to be reduced. our rising diabetes rates bear the truth on that one.
    It is also good to see the fake sweeteners shown to be harmful..apart from their chemicl bases, the fact is and always has bee, the body senses sweet and produces insulin
    no sugar..a lot of insulin with nothing to work on.
    that cannot be good for the body.

    • As far as salted items in a Pub, they are designed to make you thirsty. These also help reduce the effects of the alcohol, but only slightly.

    • Good point regarding iodized salt. All the new ‘health’ sea salt, Himalayan pink salt, etc typically do not have iodine. To me, this is a major flaw in logic.

  11. AS someone with CVD and the erst, I can assure you that the fine print in all the literature reveals some alarming modes of thought.
    Various indicators of underlying arterial disease are,
    High blood pressure
    Inability to handle stress
    High blood cholesterol
    And so on.
    What is astonishing, is that there is very little evidence for whether these are the results of CVD, or the causes, or simply symptomatic of some other problem that causes both the CVD and the symptom
    And yet the stock treatment (beyond surgical intervention) is to load the patient up with medication that reduces the symptoms of CVD.
    With very little evidence that it actually does anything to affect the underlying cause.
    Now there are good reaosn to lower BP anyway,. its not a great idea to put that much stress on arteries and retinopathies and the like happen.
    But this tacit assumption that ‘anything that reduces the symptoms, is at least a prophylactic’ is very worrying.
    Correlation is not causation.

    • You have just hit the nail on the head of the AMA. AMA doctors are trained as a general philosophy to treat symptoms first. Osteopaths are trained as a general philosophy to find the root cause first and treat that to eliminate the symptoms. Now all you MDs out there don’t get your white coats in a bunch. I speak in general terms not to individual doctor’s methods of patient care.

  12. Kip:
    Very interesting; thank you.
    In the current times, any perception of a problem generates the public expectation that somebody (i.e., the government) will do something, and politicians have become very proficient at appearing to do something and appearing to care. In the US “caring” is equated with willingness to spend public money and whoever advocates spending the most money “cares” more than everyone else.
    It’s a joke, but we would be better off in many cases if regulatory agencies would follow the advice: don’t do something, just stand there!

    • For a generation now, the government and its medical-guild minions have been carefully shifting the blame for poor health onto individuals, and blaming the victims under the guise of “poor choices”–bad food, not enough exercise, etc. How convenient. The KNOWN predictors of bad health are in fact genetic and socio-economic and not within an individual’s power to change. They don’t want to admit that economic adversity, unsafe neighborhoods that prevent children from playing outside, substance abuse, violence, pollution, noise, and family instability, NOT “bad choices,” are causing most of the problems with CVD, obesity, diabetes, etc.–which are, BTW, only rising in certain populations, primarily urban minorities.
      “Worrried Well” upper-middle class statin-and-kale chomping executives aren’t dropping dead–trust me!

      • Everything you list is within the power of the individual to change, if they want to.
        The problem is that we have raised a generation of people who believe that it is always someone else’s responsibility to fix the problems in their lives.
        Substance abuse is not a bad choice? What planet are you from?

  13. No extra salt intake that is 0 is the correct answer. All/most unsalted natural food already has the amount of salt required. The whole process can be explained by ingestion of sea water. All cells dehydrate and anything outside gets filled with extra water such as blood vessel, heart, ect ect.

    • Ah, no.
      The human body is very well equipped to deal with excess salt and flush out the extra.
      lack of enough salt causes problems in many parts of the body that require cellular and molecular communications fostered by the salt’s ionic cell solutions.
      When cellular communications are seriously hampered or interrupted, critical organ functions, including brain functions, are susceptible to failure.
      Your analogy using sea water is incorrect.
      Sea water has a much higher level of salt; e.g. 35 grams of salt per liter (4.22 cups) of water.
      Drinking sea water when a person is dehydrated does not slake thirst; instead it exacerbates the dehydration.
      Under dehydrated conditions, a human body is incapable of flushing excess salt.
      With sufficient fresh water, humans can flush large amounts of salt within a few days.
      Your example that salt water causes all cells to dehydrate, is technically correct as the body seeks to rid itself of the extra salt, the kidneys pull water from the body to make the urine required in flushing out the excess salt. That is tough to do when every cup of salt water holds 8.3 grams of salt.
      “Human kidneys can only make urine that is less salty than salt water. Therefore, to get rid of all the excess salt taken in by drinking seawater, you have to urinate more water than you drank. Eventually, you die of dehydration even as you become thirstier.” Technically, again, you’ll die from organ failure.
      Then you include as part of your sophistic fright language. you intimate that the cells lose water while ‘everything’ else gains water, including the heart… You really need to brush up on your biology and stop with the bedtime scare fictions.
      The plain truth is, humans require salt!
      • -Salt is a mandatory for life mineral.
      • -Low salt conditions are more dire than too much salt conditions.
      • -When a mineral/nutrient is required for life, any ‘zero salt’ policies are fraught with danger. Truthfully, such policies are downright silly.
      Sadly, the modern fascination with fad diets, including low salt, is contrary to maintaining proper human nutrition and health.

      • My bad!
        I missed a closing after the end quotation mark “…Eventually, you die of dehydration even as you become thirstier.”
        [Reply: Fixed it for you. -ModE.]

      • @ATheoK – Eliza wrote about “No extra salt intake”, you write about “zero salt policies”. This is not the same, as the former was explaned as “unsalted natural food already has the amount of salt required”, and the latter means like no salt whatsoever.
        Humans (homo genus) survived for like 2 million of years with very modest salt intakes. And no salt industry, mines etc. Some extimates are 768g of sodium and 10500 mg of potassium a day. And over 100g of fiber a day!
        One of the biggest problems of “official” science in medicine is that it both the research and recommendations concentrate around moderate range, with few touching extremes. This is bad, because extremes contain gems. Like 600 kcal/day diet reversing type 2 diabetes in 2 weeks, 5 day fast (extreme comapared to usual intermittent 1-2 day fasting) causing the rebuild of immune system from stem cells or just both: very low carb, very high fat diet and very low fat, very high carb diet beig effective weight loss tools compared to moderate-everything approach.
        In context of low-salt both traditional hunter-gatherer diet and artificial low-sodium Kempner diet have proven to be very efficient at reducing blood pressure.
        Low-sodium hunter gatherer diet of Yanomami people allows them to keep around 100/60 blood pressure for their entire lives, rather than have a blood pressure increasing with age.
        From Dr Greger’s Nutritionfacts:

        Kempner diet proven to be effective. And it is an essence of extreme diets: full of white rice, sugar, extremaly low in salt and fat.

    • Reply to Eliza ==> While working shipboard in the tropics, I witnessed a sailor going into a Grand Mal seizure brought on by a failure to ingest enough salt — that is, he was flopping about on the deck of our ship like a fish out of water, jaws snapping — shocking and frightening. The Captain ordered a board of inquiry which issued a recommendation that jars of salt tablets (1000 mg tablets) be permanently made available on the desk of the Quartermaster of the Gangway — a spot past passed repeatedly during the day by all aboard. The QM was instructed to ask each sailor as he passed “Have you taken your salt today?”.
      Sailors working in the hot tropical climate sweat out huge amounts of salt — and even the already very salty diet coming out of the galley could not meet the need.

    • I believe it is the magnesium salts in sea water that cause most of the effects you are citing, If you make a brine with table salt and drink it (I wouldn’t make a habit of it) you don’t immediately dehydrate. Drink a glass a sea water and you will likely retch it back up in short order.

    • GTR says: “Humans (homo genus) survived for like 2 million of years with very modest salt intakes. And no salt industry, mines etc. Some extimates are 768g of sodium…”

      Modest? 768 grams per day??
      Do tell…
      There are many creatures on Earth that survive on the natural salt content they ingest with food. None of them sweat or excrete much salt.
      Humans sweat and excrete large amounts of salt.

      GTR says: “Eliza wrote about “No extra salt intake”, you write about “zero salt policies”…”

      Good reading skills there GTR.

      Eliza said: “No extra salt intake that is 0…”

      Or was your intention to introduce another odd straw man argument by twisting either Eliza’s 0 (zero) or my use of the word zero?

  14. One school of thought regarding salt in the diet – is that salt is one of the triggers in the appetite that tells the body when you have consumed sufficient food.

      • Reply to joe ==> I thought I had inadvertently deleted your comment — which doesn’t seem to be the case.
        I am not sure about the salt-appetite connection. I haven’t seen any literature on it. If you know of any, please provide a link.

  15. As someone who does a lot of long distance running exercise, I’m fed up by the pushing of a daily limit as low as 1500mg without much caveats: Hard exercise in the heat can make you lose as much as 1000mg sodium an hour! (I had to eat salt tablets as a supplement in order not to get dangerously low on sodium when I did long distance running competitions in the summer heat as a teenager.) And hard work in the heat can make you sweat more than 5000mg sodium in the course of a work day.

    • Most people sit on their @ss all day and have no idea. I drop 2 kgs in an hour of vigorous exercise. Water mainly, plus all the salts in sweat.

      • The recommendations for reducing sodium intake to very low levels are usually given without any caveats, and it doesn’t just apply the most obvious cases of long distance runners or strenuous work: I think anyone who likes to work in the garden during the heat of summer may easily sweat more than 1500 mg sodium a day.

    • I worked in a printed circuit-board shop in the early 70s in Ft.Wayne, IN. A place of high humidity, and our plating room had no air conditioning. So it was often near 100° indoors with some heated baths= more humidity. I ended up with a salt deficiency with no exercise there. I did bike a few miles to and from work.

    • Reply to Espen ==> Yes, exactly, see my reply to Eliza above.
      (Note to “joe” — I have inadvertently deleted a comment from you, regarding salt and appetite, while trying to relocate this reply in the thread. My apologies. — kh)

  16. Your blood has a balance of sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, CO2, creatine, magnesium, copper, nitrogen-based molecules, biologic cells etc etc.
    Your kidneys are constantly trying to maintain the right balance and as long as you drinking water throughout the day, your kidneys will be working hard to keep everything in the right balance. If you do a workout or something physical, sweating will change the balance and your urine goes yellow as your kidneys are working to excrete any excess molecules/ions.
    All of the sodium studies are really bogus. A drop in blood pressure of 2 is nothing. You can do that on your own by laying on the couch for 1 minute. Make it 10 minutes and it drops by 10.
    Just eat whatever salt you want, (sea salt is better because it has more of the other elements that your blood needs and more like our actual blood chemistry) and drink water whenever you are thirsty and everything will be fine. There is no need to go overboard, just drink water when your body says you need some.

    • I’m with 100%. “Listen to your body” seems to be wisdom that we’ve largely unlearned…much to our detriment.
      Another principle that’s largely ignored is hormesis. We somehow, strangely, seem to believe that certain things are an all-or-nothing proposition, rather than the U-shaped response curve that’s actually present for most substances.

    • Sea salt is great, but you have to be aware of iodine, which is often much lower in sea salt. That is the complication with sea salt. Iodine deficiencies are not something you want at all. A lot more harmful than too much salt.

    • I am also in the 100% agreement with “Listen To Your Body” as well.
      In the last four months I have cut out any sugar or carbohydrate intake making my diet mostly meat, a few vegetables and salad. I have lost 85lbs without any excessive exercise. I am getting more exercise because weighing 85lbs less means it is much easier to move around so more moving is being done. I am back on my bicycle again “YAHOO”. The funny thing is that I don’t feel like I’m dieting. My double diet which I call the “Atkin’s/Eat-less regime” is more, a permanent change of eating habits, and less of a diet. I am almost half way to my goal. My Doctor who is a vegetarian has had my blood tested many times but all of my blood workups show me in perfect heath. It is fun to watch him shake his head in puzzlement when he reads the results.
      Years ago I suffered from Cluster Headaches for over 20 years. They used to come in waves that would last for a month or two. One time I could feel the onset of another wave of headaches coming on and I suddenly had an urge to eat a couple of bananas. Amazingly the headaches stopped. Ever since I have made sure to eat at least one banana per month and I have never had another cluster headache. I don’t know why but I will go with what works.
      Your body knows what it needs you just have to listen

      • Matt,
        Interestingly enough, every cell in your body works incessantly to pump salt out of our cells, against a huge gradient into the much more salty blood, and potassium in, dilute in the blood, against a much higher gradient within your cells. Salt is conserved by the kidneys and kept around, but potassium is not – we need to replenish it constantly through our food.
        So indeed, you were listening to your body. I went through a regimen like yours and changed my health and wellness permanently. I am much healthier now than when I was 40. OK, almost 70 today and starting my next career.

  17. I’ve never been a fan of doctors. Their diagnostic skills are woeful. I only go to doctors for tavel injections or for a certificate of health for sport situations. They are ok for setting bones and removing warts.
    They seem to think that they save lives and are therefore close to God , or something. I worked in the sales field for many years involving doctors and medical companies. Believe me, they know s*it and are just in it for the money.

  18. It won’t be long before as my grandmother used to say “whatever tickles your fancy and everything in moderation” will come to pass.

    • If Taubes work is “legendary”, why would you not include him? Taubes gets a bad rap because he was one of the first to willingly draws a bullseye on his chest by providing data that shows “the experts” are full of it. That chutzpah should be applauded, not avoided.
      The problem with nutritional science is that so much of our guidelines comes from observational studies. That’s a problem because it’s a mortal scientific sin to assume cause and effect from observational studies yet we do it all the time and we suffer greatly for it. But here’s the thing, all it takes is a single, well run observational study that doesn’t show a correlation to blow up the prevailing attitude. You show several studies above that show no correlation between high salt and heart disease, ergo high salt cannot be a contributor to heart disease, period. But instead of abandoning the hypothesis, low salt proponents will either ignore the evidence or tack on an ad hoc hypothesis to explain away the contrary result. This is how we wind up with BS like multiple versions of the French Paradox (it’s the olive oil, it’s the hard cheese, it’s the relaxed dining experience, it’s the red wine) to explain away why French people, who consume a lot of saturated fat, don’t have high levels of heart disease. Anytime you see a scientist talking about a paradox you should run, because what is coming next is a load of crap.
      As an aside, observational studies that show people who consume less salt having lower levels of heart disease are easy to explain. Because we’ve been told for decades to limit our salt, the people who do limit salt are more likely to be health conscious. That means they exercise more, smoke less, drink less, sleep better, eat less processed foods – basically everything we know that is “healthy”. People who consume a lot of salt are more likely to do the opposite. All of these variables and the salt fanatics will say “See, I told you that salt is a killer”. Ridiculous. These people are laughable.
      Sorry to hear about your heart attack, glad that things are progressing well. I hope this means a subsequent post will go into the actual causes of heart disease (hint – it ain’t cholesterol). Dr. Malcolm Kendrick has an excellent series on what is heart disease and how it occurs (currently at 16 posts) that will probably make you ask “Why doesn’t my doctor know that” when you read it. I hate to push other people’s blogs here but it’s really an excellent series.

      • Reply to Bob Johnston ==> I didn’t highlight Gary Taubes’ legendary work on the Salt Wars because he ended ing off fighting the Salt Wars in 1998 (as far as major articles are concerned), nearly two decades ago. I use his work as background by linking to it and focus my efforts here on the battles being fought in present time.

  19. Correlation is not causation, exactly. The foods you find the salt in are usually processed, canned, fast, not fresh healthy food balanced foods.
    The type of salt is crucial in my opinion. Refined table salt is another of those issues regarding ‘goodness’, e.g. sugar, fat/oil, flour…
    I have read that there are studies on sea salt vs refined salt, establishing that sea salt is highly beneficial and delivers much needed minerals. No mention of sea salt in the article/debate.
    Cattle have salt licks that are composed of mixed salts – you will not find refined salt salt licks – the health of cattle is a tried and tested.

    • Salt lick composition is not accidental. Farmers and wildlife managers mandate the mix.
      That mix includes everything from nearly pure salt to complex mineral blocks.
      Every study that I have read regarding sea salt versus refined salt have not been genuine studies. i.e. they did not establish controls, identify explicit test conditions, conduct extensive background analysis and assumptions made regarding the results; e.g. all positive results were attributed to sea salt, all negative results to refined salt.
      If someone is serious about sea salt, it is easy boil their own from a few buckets of sea water when they visit a beach.

    • “…The foods you find the salt in are usually processed, canned, fast, not fresh healthy food balanced foods…”

      Fresh healthy food balanced foods… Now there is a pure elitist statement. i.e. only an urban elitist would make such a statement under the assumption that everyone not only has access to fresh foods, but that they shop every day. Not just for fresh foods, but for balanced fresh foods… That complete amino-acid/proteins/fiber/starches/sugars mix required for healthy humans.
      The human condition mandates the ability to conserve and preserve abundant foods for later consumption.
      Canned foods are a European/North American tradition and neither healthy or balanced; as the canning process destroys most vitamins and many nutrient.
      Canned foods do supply protein and fiber. Peoples who live for months of the year subsisting on canned foods suffered from vitamin deficiencies.
      Drying foods, including with salts, preserves the vitamin and nutrient content.
      Preserving meats and many other foods invites dangers as botulin grow rapidly in certain conditions. To date, even after several decades trying to find a replacement, the most effective safest preventive for botulin growth is sodium nitrate/nitrite. Staining the sodium nitrate pink allows users to identify the sodium nitrate visually and results in the term ‘pink salt’ used for meat preservation.
      Truthfully, since there are centuries of salt preserved food consumption, I would much rather eat salt preserved foods than industrial processed foods stuffed with various chemicals for freshness, flavors, taste enhancement.
      To reduce/remove salt from a salt preserved food, simply soak in fresh water; even salt cured cheese, e.g. feta, can have a substantial amount of salt removed very quickly.
      I hate to even think of what soaked boxed processed foods look like…

    • Reply to Neillusion ==> I’m afraid that salt is salt — NaCl. You need a certain amount of it to remain alive, and more to be healthy. Your body also needs a wide variety of other minerals and elements in the proper combinations.
      In the grand scheme of thing, the sea salt/mineral salt/refined salt/iodized salt debate is a side issue.
      I live, half the year, near the Culinary Institute of America, where salt is an important ingredient in prepared foods and the variety of salts used mind-boggling. At the CIA (“The Culinary”) the debate rages as to exactly which salt, from where, in what form, to use for each dish.
      In my home, we use, on the table, a mineral salt marketed under the brand name “Real Salt”. We use it for its distinctive flavor. It is a bit low in iodine, compared to iodized salt, which my wife uses in cooking.

  20. Have you done any research on High Fructose Corn syrup? My suspicion is this is part of a larger plan to control our lives. Millennials seem in general to be freaked out about all kinds of dietary intake primarily because they haven’t any substantial education regarding the scientific method.

    • Reply to Tom Ragsdale and Bubba Cow ==> Yes, I agree, the HFCS issue is developing into a science war — often wrapped up in the more general Obesity Wars and the Sugar Wars. I’ll put it on my list.
      Bubba — The GMO Wars are already on my list. Plenty of craziness there to amuse us….

    • There’s too many epidemiologists out there publishing. I would prefer the epi locate a relationship and then a scientist step in to attempt to determine causal pathways… if they can’t then the epi goes back out and tries again.
      As to fructose fears, do these fearful types fear fruit? Honey? no – they really need to learn a bit about chemistry then they might not fear the sources of their sugars quite so much.

    • The only reason why we use High Fructose Corn Syrup is because the government keeps the price of sugar artificially high by restricting how much sugar the country is allowed to import.

  21. There is a whole bunch of more on this to be found at the American Councel for Science and Health:
    Without wanting to side-track this discusiion, there is another scientific topic that has had and still has high attention by policy makers: The effects of secondhand-smoke exposure. I have been studying this topic for over 10 years. So far I haven’t found even a single statsistic of causes of death from CAD or respiratory diseases that can be associated with bans on smoking in pubs and restaurants. Shoddy science at best.

    • Shoddy “science” masquerading as “medical” advice is being used heavy-handedly to enforce “virtue.” Where morality-based temperance movements failed, scare-tactics have replaced them. What they’ve done to smoking, they’re ramping up with alcohol–it’s all about taking control.

      • I was told by one young socialist that he didn’t care if second hand smoke was bad or not.
        He hated the smell of cigarettes and he didn’t want to worry about whether his chosen restaurant permitted smoking or not.
        It was so much easier on him to just have the government ban it everywhere, and he wouldn’t have to worry about making that choice any more.
        As far as he was concerned, his life style preferences trumped everyone else’s.

      • MarkW I know that same socialist I think ! I had the same conversation, got the same ‘I don’t like the smell’ retort, so I put it that I loathed the smell of onions cooking outside hardware stores on weekends and Brut 33 on the train so they should be banned too – and was promptly told ‘well that’s just stupid’

      • Funny story (I think): My family went to Utah on vacation and we went out to eat, as you do. The hostess asked how many were in our party, and I said, “Six, non-smoking.” She gave us an odd look, at which point we remembered where we were. (Non-Americans, Utah’s population is majority Mormon, and the devout ones do not smoke.)
        I told this to a local relative, thinking it was just a funny thing because of the Mormon thing, and she told me that Utah had recently passed a law prohibiting smoking in restaurants. This was one of the first I had heard of being passed. Several years later, a similar measure passed in Virginia.
        Really, banning the smoking sections and other such “sins” just makes it harder to brandish one’s superiority. It is like using an e-reader. How are you supposed to signal your condescension if no one can see the book cover or massive number of pages?

    • Reply to Ben Palmer ==> Thanks for the link — it shows how current the Salt Wars are — and how pervasive.

    • You’ve only got to to look at occupational health and safety guidelines for the various components of cig smoke (as legitimate researchers did) to find even in the smokiest old pubs the concentrations were far, far below restriction guidelines. Interestingly I even stumbled across some research on the background behind nicotine’s toxicity and it seems the LD50 ascribed to it was basically made up back in 1909 and never challenged since then.. and if taken on face value should see smokers dropping dead after 2 cigs !
      (But we probably shouldn’t be discussing sm0king.. hysterics love to tie Den|er5 of climate to evil t0bacco advocacy)

  22. An interesting article. My only comment is that most people do not have any idea of the amount of salt in the processed food that they eat. While they may not add much extra salt to their diet, they may already be way over even the 5000mg target from products that we might assume had zero.

  23. Very interesting.

    The Salt Wars have been raging for 30 years, at least.

    OK, i would like to go back and pick up the story circa 1975.
    Salt causes hypertension was dogma, even back then. Fairly draconian low-salt/no-salt diets which were very hard to live with were common, all over the place. Everybody knew at least a few people who was on one, and would often get an earful about how hard it was to deal with.
    So that is the situation in 1975.
    Right at that time, I took a course in physiology, an advanced course from the Biology Dept. which assumed a good set of background skills in Bio., Chem., and (of course) Biochemistry. The textbook was excellent, as was the prof. The curriculum was intense and demanding, and was specifically slanted away from general biology and towards human clinical, to service those going on into medical fields.
    When we got to blood pressure regulation, and the role of salt, the stated explanation simply did not make sense. In fact, It seemed, from what was presented in the textbook, that salt should have little, if any effect. In confusion, I brought my concerns to the prof. The prof. agreed that the stated explanation made no sense at all, but that was the accepted mechanism, nonetheless.
    I most certainly expected that any biological/chemical mechanism used to explain any biological effect should at least make sense to someone with a good and proper background in the sciences. This one simply did not.
    So why does the medical community think what it does? I cannot answer that, but I can make an observation. I would later find out that the physiology course I took mirrored that which was taught in Med School, not pre-med! (That’s why it was so hard.)
    {I digress: Often, the students would whine “why do I have to learn *all* this stuff, I am not going to be a MD”. I would always respond “Learn it. In 20 or 30 years you are going to be glad you know this stuff.” But I digress}
    A Parting Shot:
    If you want to elucidate the mechanism of salt in blood pressure mediation, you need to do some hard-core biochemistry. All the medical population studies with all the statistical analysis in the world are not going to get you anywhere.
    And that is how wars get started.

    • I’m not educated in any biological field but as I had kidney failure I have taken an interest. Transplanted now 9 years and doing pretty good.
      I’m not sure where I got this idea but I’ve always thought the “salt is bad” assumption came from the idea that more salt retains more water, which raises systolic b.p. and causes arteriosclerosis. I just use a little moderation.
      Damn Warmists are bad for my blood pressure!

    • Reply to TonyL ==> Thanks for sharing your university experience with us.
      BP regulation is an extremely complex topic — most MDs haven’t a clue, they just follow “best practices” rules.

      • You are most welcome, of course.
        This is an excellent article and I look forward to the whole series.

    • One way I was taught to evaluate the quality of research was by the standard of “biological plausibility.” If the known physiology shows a clear pathway for the theory to work, it’s passed a significant test. If there IS no plausible pathway, just majick or “standard practice,” you’ve uncovered a piece of the Great Unknown.

  24. An interesting article, thank you for posting.
    Like the controversy that rages around the human impacts on climate, the complex arguments about how much salt is acceptable has pitted highly qualified individuals in a contest that does little more than confuse the wider audience. This must concern, not only because it is difficult to know what to do for best, but more importantly today’s political operator has grasped the chance to use such issues to impose their own cure all solutions. The trouble is, that in far too many cases these so called answers are in fact detrimental to the future of the majority of mankind.
    What dismays me in particular about this is that we have the ability and means to work out ideas that take into account the uncertainties surrounding such disputes. For climate related concerns for example, we can take advantage of nuclear processes to generate electricity without adding CO2 to the atmosphere. Yet rather than addressing the concerns of such a technology, we squander the chances by fear mongering. In essence mankind as a species has ceased to advance into the broad sunlight uplands spoke about by Winston Churchill, instead we have lost our nerve and have become fearful of our own shadow.

    • Comes down to THIS: If you are one of the 5% of severe hypertensives who are salt-sensitive, follow your doctor’s recommendations and restrict what you must. The rest of us need never give it a second thought.
      And NO ONE needs to lose a minute’s sleep over their “carbon footprint” or the rest of the CAGW claims–they’ve had 30 years to prove their hypothesis and it has demonstrably failed miserably.

  25. “in one of the world’s leading medical journals, The Lancet. ” I stopped reading your article right there. The Lancet published ridiculous estimates of deaths in Iraq as if they were facts and has shown itself happy over the past decade or so to publish all kinds of biased, non-scientific articles as long as they support “the correct position.” Try again with reliable sources.

    • Further evidence of the unreliability of The Lancet (this should sound familiar to readers of WUWT): From The Lancet: “Climate change could be the biggest global health threat of the 21st century. Effects on health of climate change will be felt by most populations in the next decades and put the lives and wellbeing of billions of people at increased risk. During this century, the earth’s average surface temperature rises are likely to exceed the safe threshold of 2°C above pre-industrial average temperature. ”
      Quite frankly, I’m shocked the Salt article quoting The Lancet was even considered a valid article for publication here by Anthony.

      • So your focus is not what was said and why but instead you focus on who said it and therefore it must be wrong.

      • @DonK31 – Of course I considered the source; once I identified it as a source that has lied repeatedly in the past, I immediately ignored what it said. I imagine if someone lied to you repeatedly, you would trust them as a source of information? After 4 or 5 times of being lied to, a rational person stops listening and finds other sources that are trustworthy.

      • If you don’t have the resources or the knowledge to evaluate the claims for yourself, the next option is to evaluate the trustworthiness of the source.
        The Lancet has proven time and again that it puts politics and political correctness ahead of actual science.

    • I too have difficulty with using The Lancet publications as unbiased authority, but I applaud the revelation of government medicine as more pseudo-science.

    • Yes, I did the math on the Lancet article at the time. In order to be valid there would need to have been 100’s of deaths every day for the time period considered. The media gleefully reported every incident and most days the death count was zero. Only a few specific major incidents got over 100

    • Reply to Patrick B ==> You raise an issue that is very important == Does the publishing of a study in top tier journal guarantee that it is scientifically sound?
      The correct answer is — Of Course Not — There Are No Guarantees.
      Unfortunately, you take the opposite, equally incorrect view — If a journal has ever published a study that was later found not to be scientifically sound, or that your disagreed with, or that had to be retracted, then no content in that journal should ever be trusted again.
      The error in both views is that they rely on a logical fallacy — The Genetic Fallacy.– judging an argument (a study, in this case) solely by its (publishing) source.
      The Lancet itself is not the source of the study nor its findings, any more than JAMA is. They are scientific publishers, scientific journals.
      Top tier journals, in all fields, do have better peer review (certainly no guarantee), are more careful with details, and have more rigorous procedures that help to weed out poor science.
      Each and every study, published in a top tier journal or in an online junk journal, needs to be evaluated on its merits.

      • @KipHansen – Kip, you make the error of assuming The Lancet is an unbiased “top tier” journal attempting to publish only proper studies which, like any journal, may now and then pick an article about a study that turns out to have an error in it. That is not the case with The Lancet. The Lancet has a proven record of a publishing bias and a proven willingness to ignore blatant errors so as to bring attention to, and show support for, certain social/political ideologies. As such, The Lancet cannot be viewed or treated as an unbiased scientific journal but should be viewed with the same skepticism as a political rag. Likewise, it is not unwarranted to assume those working with a political rag are willing to cut corners to prove a point as well.
        Life’s too short to read everything so we don’t pay attention to every two bit blog post – or any psuedo-scientific political hack journals like The Lancet.

    • Dietary cholesterol does not equate to serum cholesterol. Eggs are beneficial in so many ways and the yolks provide much needed nutrition. I know some people who order “egg whites only” and seem to wear that as a badge of intelligence much like vegetarians.

      • Reply to Latitude and Ton in Florida ==> Tom is correct — most recent studies have shown that dietary cholesterol plays almost no role in cardiovascular problems.

    • As with much of the biological world, things are both more and less complicated than they seem. The cardiovascular disease wars are 60 or 70 years old now. What wasn’t known as clearly then, maybe, compared to today is that local immune regulation of the damaged cell response is key to many of the diseases of long life. Blanket recommendations such as “Everyone cut your sodium chloride intake (NaCl is *not* the only *salt* we need)” will make some sick, make some recover from certain sicknesses, and make no difference for more than either.
      Our bodies develop by intricate chemical signaling. Apoptosis at the wrong time and place results in a damaged body. Nevertheless, that body that developed contains within it the seeds of its own self-destruction. Mortal man, doomed to die. 120 years is all we get. A key change in the DNA/RNA repair and regulation regime cut us from having bodies that could last 10 centuries down to 1.
      The definition of a healthy diet is the one that does not make *you* sick. That will not necessarily apply to others.

  26. Nice job on the salt wars, Kip. I think a lot of people instinctively realize that the “alarmist” approach is overstated. The same statement can be made about the climate wars. But it seems to be limited to people who are instinctively skeptical, and this comes from education and temperament. In both cases, many of those who buy the “consensus” do so impassively – almost the path of least resistance. If they’re interested in other things, or simply disengaged generally, folks are more likely to believe the consensus.
    A few blogs have been ruined by the climate wars. Dot Earth had some of the most toxic commenters on the planet, and Andy Revkin, a reasonable person who was catching hate from both sides, got to where he couldn’t stand it any longer. I think he will avoid the climate wars and steer toward other aspects of “sustainability” – such as energy science and policy. I hope he sticks around in the blog space, but blog sponsors have to find a way to moderate out the loonier voices. Andy has done a poor job here, and NYT comment policy hasn’t helped him.
    I haven’t studied commenting and commenters on this blog, but my instinct is that WUWT has done a better job of winnowing out toxic bloggers, and comments here have a more moderate tone. I’d like to see a bit more openness to the warmist side in its featured articles (warmists do have some valid points) but its sponsors seem content to leave warmism to the many blogs that have drunk the KoolAid. Warmists don’t have a monopoly on dogma and intolerance, and we skeptics need to be very cognizant of straying into this sort of disfunction.

    • Reply to scraft1 ==> Until recently, I had been a frequent commenter at Andy Revkin’s blog at the NY Times. I agree that the “Dirty Dozen” commenters there have ruined the comment section, making it “mostly worthless”. Revkin himself seems to have discovered that it is more fun being on the “winning side” — certainly gets him more invites to important conferences and speaking engagements. In my opinion, he is simply too busy teaching kids to be propagandists to write for his own blog. Suspect the NY Times will drop him soon.

      • True, Andy has found that there’s a good living to be made catering to the warmist side of the climate wars. I’m not sure even he believes it – He definitely has a skeptic streak in him.

  27. Science tends toward improvement of the human condition, these groups ignore it, most of these people believe that there are to many humans, a lot of their counter science arguments will eliminate some humans, when that is your goal, increased mortality cannot be viewed as a negative outcome. It is the preferred outcome and is repeated again and again, GMO, DDT, CO2, Y2K, etc. Any time you direct resources at a unnecessary event, you are almost by definition denying resources to a necessary event.

    • Not sure why you include Y2K in your list. In that case, there were very real concerns that were prevented by the directing of resources at solving the problem.

  28. Good medical outcome for you Kip, thankfully.
    Your approach here is interesting and important.
    Leaving aside the phenomenon that few people nowadays can envisage a new enterprise that is not regulated, an interesting topic in itself, we find this pattern of group intervention ‘for the public good’ to have flawed research behind it time and again.
    If not on your list, there is a wonderful pre-packed capsule example in the book “The Apocalyptics” by Edith Efron. In exquisite detail, she follows the course of an invented epidemic of USA cancers caused by man-made chemicals, 1960-80s period. Huge structure set up, new laws made, lots of money spent – but the epidemic never happened.
    As you infer, strange outcomes can flow from groupthink about what seems like a good theory at the time. I suspect that it is much more common a human failing than most people are aware of.
    To be controversial, I would propose that there is a strong link with organised religion in the sense that many individuals believe in very low-probability events like life after death, a place in the clouds named heaven and so on. People must know these cannot exist yet half the population are believers and so we have special structures and special laws like tax free concessions.
    If people accept this religious conundrum, maybe they accept the salt wars puzzle and the non-epidemic of cancer.
    It is all around us with belief in acupuncture, homeopathy, seaweed extracts to make better gardens, tablets with anti- oxidants, acceptance of “I am from the government, I am here to help.”
    Philosophically, it is simply weird. People en mass are gullible in the extreme.
    Problem is, I have no idea on how to show them that they are being conned. An advertising expert might have some ideas, since they help cause some of the stupidity.
    Good luck with your project, Kip. It will be fascinating to find which further topics you have selected.

    • Reply to Geoff Sherrington ==> Thanks for your input, Geoff.
      Never safe to use religion as an example. I, for instance, majored in religious studies at UCSB back in the day and am am more-than-a-believer in life — before, during, and after this mortal existence — go figure, huh?
      Human gullibility is the root of the multi-billion dollar health-food/vitamin-supplement racket.

      • Yes Kip,
        So having admitted to some of the ‘faults’ that you seek to criticise when others adopt irregular concepts, logically (not personally) are you now in a poor position to continue with the essays? Or can you erect a 100% perfect personal Chinese Wall?

      • Geoff, your atheist assertion is not science based. The cosmological argument stands. Science is limited to cause and affect, which demands a first cause of unlimited energy beyond science or rules of causation, or asserts that all things inclusive are without cause, causeless, thus limiting its very foundation to an existing cosmos, but entirely unfit for finalities.
        Kip’s, or anyone else’s belief in a soul or a divinity is not necessarily related to their scientific acumen. Science governs the laws for an existing and functioning cosmos, via the cosmological argument it cannot address infinite solutions beyond its own governing cause/affect laws.

      • Reply to Geoff ==> I do appreciate your general input on topic. However, this is not an appropriate topic for discussion on this thread or at this blog.
        I only mentioned my beliefs as an example of how easy it is to incorrectly assume the belief systems of other people and to gently point out that denigrating the religious beliefs/understandings of others is, as you say, “controversial” at best. In the normal course of conversation, especially on a public forum where most others are strangers unknown to you, it is poor manners.
        So, let’s leave it at that. This blog concerns “News and commentary on puzzling things in life, nature, science, weather, climate change, technology, and recent news” and this essay, and thus this comment section, concerns Science Wars in general and the Salt Wars in particular.
        There are other blogs where fighting the Atheist Wars on Theists is the order of the day — but not here, please.

    • Not being able to prove something is not the same as proving it to be a low probability event.
      What I find fascinating is the way atheists have to constantly attack believers. It’s almost as if they are still trying to convince themselves.

      • As an atheist I feel that you have the situation reversed. I have never had an atheist knock on my door to try to get me to “notbelieve” but various religious types frequently arrive to try to persuade me to believe in their belief system. These people I consider to be fair game and I try to educate them in the failed science that I consider religion is. Unfortunately it is very difficult or even impossible to persuade these people to look at their religion of choice in a logical manner, even when the illogic of the religion is pointed out to them.

      • Thank you Richard for helping to prove my point regarding the intolerance of your average atheist.
        The fact that you actually believe that religion should be looked at scientifically just goes to prove how ignorant and arrogant you are on the entire subject.
        I would try to educate you on the subject but it is quite obvious that your mind is sealed shut on the whole subject.

      • MarkW,
        Sorry, I made no statement attacking either atheists or believers. I merely drew some parallels from widespread experiences.
        If you disagree about the existence of life after death and a place called heaven in the clouds, you are welcomed to provide evidence to support such a belief.
        If you cannot, it kinda makes a point, eh?

      • Reply to Geoff, MarkW, Richard of NZ ==> Repeating here for emphasis:
        I do appreciate your general input when it is on topic. However, this comment thread is not an appropriate topic for discussion at this blog.
        Clearly stated on the Policy page: “Certain topics are not welcome here and comments concerning them will be deleted. This includes topics on religion, ….”
        I only mentioned my beliefs (in response to a comment by Geoff S.) as an example of how easy it is to incorrectly assume the belief systems of other people and to gently point out that denigrating the religious beliefs/understandings of others is, as you say, “controversial” at best. In the normal course of conversation, especially on a public forum where most others are strangers unknown to you, it is poor manners.
        So, let’s leave it at that. This blog concerns “News and commentary on puzzling things in life, nature, science, weather, climate change, technology, and recent news” and this essay, and thus this comment section, concerns Science Wars in general and the Salt Wars in particular.
        There are other blogs where fighting the Atheist Wars on Theists is the order of the day — but not here, please.

  29. Being that I grow and cook much of my vegetables. I also preserve all I can. from pickles, cucumber/okra, to tomatoes sauce and homemade honey mead wine. I have found that processed foods, not only a bit bland, but excessive in its salt. If your mouth dries out after you have eaten, well to much salt. Most foods are designed for maximum flavor, which is deemed to require a high salt content to achieve. I have found this is only an inability to prepared quality food since most vegetables are picked prior to their best flavor. If and when I use processed foods, I always pour out all excess liquids and do not add salt until the very end, if and only if needed to brighten the flavor. Those that prefer more can just add on their own. The biggest issue is that people do not take responsibility for their own intake. And many people do not have senses that allow them to determine quality flavors. An example for me is that my wife does not have a strong sense of smell which effects her taste buds. I can cook the same foods that she enjoyed before, but will no appreciate them the same. I believe if you eat MC’D pink ooze enough, quality of food will be known. Most importantly do not eliminate your salt intake unless a qualified doctor recommends it. Then be cautious to the extent of sweating during workouts.

    • Right on the money Tom. I will add that salt, like sugar, is an addictive taste. Once you get used to less salt, you will no be able to tolerate overly salted foods.

    • Being that I grow and cook much of my vegetables. I also preserve all I can. from pickles, cucumber/okra, to tomatoes sauce and homemade honey mead wine. I have found that processed foods, not only a bit bland, but excessive in its salt. If your mouth dries out after you have eaten, well to much salt. Most foods are designed for maximum flavor, which is deemed to require a high salt content to achieve.

      Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner. There is an optimum daily range, which varies by individual. The problem is that there’s so much sodium in processed food that it’s farcical Most of the population has significantly higher than optimum intake, and would benefit from a reduction in sodium/salt.
      The point about reducing sodium/salt in processed food is that if you’re an athlete/construction-worker/whatever who needs extra salt, you can always take salt tablets, or add salt to your food. People who do not need all that sodium/salt are the majority, and yes, they would benefit from a reduction of sodium/salt in processed food.

      • Reply to Walter Dnes ==> Your expressed viewpoint is exactly the logic used by the FDA and others pushing for a reduction of added salt in processed foods,
        This part of your comment “People who do not need all that sodium/salt are the majority, and yes, they would benefit from a reduction of sodium/salt in processed food.” is what the Salt Wars are about.
        The AHA/FDA/WHO side agrees with you.
        The loyal opposition says that the majority of people DO NEED that salt anyway, and that it is a minority for whom salt reduction shows any benefit — and maintain that if processors are required to eliminate/reduce added salt, that the majority will be salt deficient and suffer adverse consequences.

      • Your evidence that most people would benefit from less salt is, what exactly?
        As Kip has pointed out, the actual science does not support such a position.

      • Reply to Kip Hansen (WordPress doesn’t allow nesting that deep) ==> There is an ever-growing (in both meanings of the word) segment of the population that is overweight. They are the ones at risk of hypertension, diabetes, stroke, and heart attack.
        Yes, it would be nice if they could be convinced to eat healthier foods, which incidentally cost less than heavily processed junk. But since you can’t force them to do that, the next best step is to cut down the sodium overdose in the foods you do eat. I’ve had to go the (medically supervised) diet route in the past year. I’ve read labels in the stores, and the amount of sodium in food is ridiculous.
        I’ve gotten to the point in my diet where I can handle the occasional treat. I take in fish-n-chips at a small place here in Toronto. No “liquor licence” just fish-n-chips. The chips come unsalted, and there are salt and pepper shakers on each table. You want salt, you can have it. You don’t want salt, don’t pour it on. This is about freedom of choice. You can always add salt if you so desire.

        • Reply to Walter Dnes ==> If you have medical issues, follow the advice of your physician and educate yourself on the subjects involved. Your might look into the DASH diet coupled to your salt reduction approach. Linked several times in the main essay.

  30. It’s not science, it’s politics. In any case, the real problem is blood pressure, which is one of the primary things your primary physician monitors. If it is high, it is easily, cheaply controlled. The issue is thus trivial, if you’re getting regular check-ups. Advocating reduced salt for everyone is authoritarian nonsense, a symptom of fatal conceit, found extensively and almost exclusively in leftists.

  31. There is no point in having a publicly funded organisation speaking as an authority if you do not use that authority to bully the public, expanding your powers over them.

  32. I had this argument with my grandmother over 40 years ago. Grandma: salt is bad for you, causes high blood pressure. Me: No, in a healthy person the body regulates blood salt levels, excess salt intake just results in salty pee.
    Heart doctors have been pushing their nonsense for such a long time, it is burned into their brains. Everyone else gets it. Enjoy your pretzels. Salt, ADDED sugar, high carb low fat diets, it seems the goverment is off track.

  33. I’ve been following this issue on salt casually for many years, and it is reassuring to find I did understand the problem. Most of the controversy is due to the contempt the public health establishment has for the public. What the establishment is doing in trying to restrict salt is of benefit to only a small minority with salt-sensitive high blood pressure, and a relatively small harm to the majority. They will not defend what is a rather questionable strategy on the presumption the general public is too stupid to understand what they are trying to do.

    • Reply to Peter Sable ==> The AHA is, of course, a non-profit organization. They have taken a stand on salt — and they have shown a remarkable tenacity of sticking to it despite all and any evidence that arises that contradicts their platform.
      They have the audacity to simply declare studies that contradict them “flawed” (without any scientific basis for this label) and tell the public and medical professionals to “disregard” them. Like Climate science’s “Team”, they fear that contrary data, scientifically correct or not, will “dilute their message”.
      This is what I refer to as a “bureaucratically entrenched hypothesis advocating an enforced solution”.

      • I dunno. AHA wants to benefit its members. If you follow the money, it doesn’t pay for any of these organizations to cure the illness they are about. The most profitable system is where the illness still occurs but they have the (expensive) cure.

      • The AMA, like most other large organizations is run by politicians. Even if a small handful of those politicians also have MD after their name.

  34. Bored MD here. This is a tempest in the teapot.
    The body’s levels of sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride, phosphate, magnesium etc. are all closely regulated by hormonal mechanisms that affect uptake from the gut and excretion or retention in the kidneys, and they are very effective. Using these mechanisms, a healthy body will be able to retain enough salt from regular food, even when unsalted. On the other hand, a healthy body will be able to dispose of surplus salt without problem, unless the intake is truly excessive (e.g. through washing down your salt pretzel with seawater).
    I do like my food salty, and I indulge myself without worrying, since like most people I don’t have hypertension. However, diuretic drugs that lower the sodium concentration are proven to lower blood pressure, and it stands to reason that they will be more effective when combined with limiting salt intake. If such a diet is unacceptable to a patient, there are indeed other treatment options.

    • Same goes for cholesterol. But that doesn’t stop MD’s from loading people up with statins, lowering their serum levels of steroid hormones and jacking up (technical term there) their livers.

    • Reply to Michael Palmer ==> Dr. Palmer, you are medically and biologically correct.
      The battle is over enforced salt reduction, either through insistence of MDs that all patients reduce salt intake even when BP is what-used-to-be normal (but is now considered “high” due to lowering of the bar, part-and-parcel of the salt.BP salt/BP wars) or through regulation of the food industry, for all.
      The data is there for you to see in the Lancet study (you’ll probably have access to the full study as am MD).

      • I see your point. However, how exactly is anyone going to “enforce” a certain sodium intake? Short of introducing salt stamps and prosecuting all black market trade in them, I don’t see how that could be done.
        Maybe this “war on salt” comes just in time though – after all, we need to keep all the cops happy who will no longer be needed for the war on marijuana.

      • Reply to Michael Palmer ==> ah — point taken — they can not “enforce” individual sodium intake….their efforts are to regulate the food industry into reducing sodium content of foods so that individuals eating a normal US diet would not exceed the extremely low limits they think are necessary. They attempt to influence individuals through public [mis-]education programs, through setting standards of care for your personal physician to follow (her demanding that you reduce salt intake), public health departments ordering fast food restaurants to label food with high salt content to make them look ‘dangerous’, etc.

  35. How fare the sugar wars?
    Nearly four years ago I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure with the standard dietary instructions about salt and, of course, bunches of pills. After nearly three years I was seeing little progress … until I eliminated my soft drink habit. Daily average sugar intake over the course of four decades was over 5 times recommended level (I did love my Coke). Six months later, with the cumulative effects of sugar eliminated, my systolic was averaging (over 45 days) at 110 (it’s since crept up to around 113). Now I can enjoy some processed food without guilt.
    Now, if only I could get the message across to the staff at the VA that I’m not a suicidal dipsomaniac …

    • Diet Coke “is an acquired taste”,but I learned to like it. I’m talking about the “brown label” version with zero calories and zero caffeine. That’s the only type of pop that my weight-loss doctor allowed. There are also Pepsi and generic equivalants. I dropped 70 pounds in 4 months (Oct 2015 through Jan 2016) and am maintaining the weightloss, so I figure he knows his stuff. The other thing is 8-to-10 glasses of fluid (no more than one glass of pop) per day. I was originally referred to him because my blood pressure was too high. I’m now off the blood pressure meds.

    • Reply to Leon Brozyna and Walter Dnes ==> The Sugars Wars continue unabated, though the battle-lines are not as clearly drawn, nor is the science nearly so one sided.
      Many people ingest far too much sugar for their own good. In my opinion, they must be doing it knowingly — no one thinks that bottle after bottle of highly sugared soft drinks are part of a healthy diet. (I drink ‘no calorie’ soft drinks.)
      That said, the “sugar is poison” crowd are equally wrong — sugar is food — sugar is energy for bodies.
      Too much of a good thing is a bad thing.

  36. I love salt. I buy very good salt. I eat approx five times the UK govt’s recommended daily amount. I’m 65 in a couple of months, and also devour a lot of just cooked red meat. My blood pressure hovers between 140/85 and 145/85.
    They can sod off with their salt warnings. It’s the stuff of life, and lack of salt is far more likely to kill you than too much.

  37. Proponents of CAGW and salt restriction diets have the same goal, control. Each is just an arrow in their quivers. They use only the data that supports giving them the power to make decisions for you. They are no different than any other dictator or despot. You are just too stupid to understand what is good for you. After all, “we are from the government, and we are here to help.”

  38. The salt scare is fundamentally anti-Darwinian. The mammalian tongue craves salt in an effort to retain the diluted seawater composition of the blood. Your dog loves to lick the salt off your sweat dried skin–no use all that salt going to waste. Considering the scarcity of natural salt deposits on land it is remarkable that the tongue has retained its salt sensitivity as one of only a few such, sweet, tart, bitter. It suggests that sugar and salt are the most important things for primate survival.
    The Romans linked salt and health in their language: salt, salutary, in English; dozens of such words in the Romance languages. Maybe salt prevented food from spoiling but its inorganic nutritional value probably had much to do with the supposed connection.
    Wiki has a tidbit:

    • At one point, the Roman Legions were paid their monthly wages in sea salt.
      “A man worth his salt”

    • “Anti-Darwinian?” ;-)) We’re talking here about the same folks who are trying to convince us that your sex is subjective, “fluid,” and can be changed at will! Dunno ’bout them, but I know what’s in MY pants!

    • Reply to gnomish ==> Thank you for these links to the full original Mente study and O’Brien comment.
      READERS: The two links in gnomish’s comment lead to a site, in some Cyrillic alphabet, which demands a captcha input. They do, however, safely deliver .pdfs of the two articles from The Lancet.

  39. Thank you for writing this. It was most appreciated and I enjoyed every word. This looks like it will be an interesting and thought provoking series. I look forward to the next installment.

  40. We are our genes. What is good for the goose may not be good for the gander. Individual differences really determine a great deal regarding how our body’s systems respond to various foods and environmental situations. The head of Stanford University’s genetics dept recently appeared on Fox news and indicated that a large sample of people all over 100 yrs of age were tested and 5 genes were discovered in this population which are different in this group from the general population. Gene modificaton could add about 30 years to average age he said. One of the oldest members of this group of codgers, he said, had been smoking for 116 years. Living a “clean” life may get you an extra year or two in the nursing home but your genes determine your true longevity. They also determine how you will respond to various medicines and therapies.

  41. Thanks for the article, Mr. Hansen. The question I have is why do the supporters of a low-salt diet say–and this is important: not our speculations, but why do they say–they support a low-salt diet. If they are honest they will admit there is at least some evidence that a low-salt diet is harmful to the general population. In the face of this evidence, why are they still in favor of a low-salt diet for everyone?
    Will they say that it just intuitively feels like people eat too much salt even before they look at the scientific evidence? If they say it is save thousands of lives per year, ask them: where is their evidence of that? Yes, some people have looked at some of the results of some studies and inferred that reducing salt in hypertensive individuals might make some small difference, but that is a long way from having a reason to reduce the salt intake of everyone. Will they say unless everyone is told to reduce their salt, those hypertensive individuals will not take it seriously?
    It is important to understand what opponents of salt say about their own motivations if we are to make arguments that they will listen to and consider.

    • Reply to Daniel Wisehart ==> You have hit on one of the major mysteries of Science Wars in general.
      Why — if there is such clear evidence of controversy and uncertainty — does one side continue to insist that the science is settled, that “the facts are clear”, and everyone should ignore all contrary evidence and opinion?
      Hopefully, this series will help us to collectively discover some of the underlying reasons.

      • Interesting, I think one aspect of this jumps out. I suspect you will find that the “protectors” of whatever the existing “scientific” dogma is, have to some degree both their pocketbook and their reputation on the line, often in the form of Government funding.

    • The balance is probably more important. Potassium in slight excess is more toxic than sodium in slight excess. The toxic chemical used for executions in the U.S. is potassium carbonate (which acts in two ways, potassium in excess interferes with nerve electrical impulses and the carbonate changes the pH of the blood outside the very narrow limits for life).

      • Reply to Richard of NZ ==> “Until 2009, most states used a 3-drug combination for lethal injections: an anesthetic (usually sodium thiopental, until pentobarbital was introduced at the end of 2010), pancuronium bromide (a paralytic agent, also called Pavulon), and potassium chloride (stops the heart and causes death). Due to drug shortages, states have adopted new lethal injection methods”….latest methods here.

  42. The author has started to mine a very rich vein of controversies, and it will be fun to read how it progresses. Risk from radiation exposure, low level air and water polution effects, second-hand cigarette smoke, the cholesterol and sat-fat wars, the body-mass-index controversy, organic vs inorganic food, endocrine disrupters, pesticides, all sorts of evil chemicals, etc. You will be able to write about this for a long time. Mr. Taubes has made it into a career.
    At the most fundamental level, these issues involve the human body’s reaction to small amounts of a substance. Most of the time, most human bodies deal with exposures to these “insults” and you never see how it is done. The problem arises when the body either does not recognize the insult and deal with it, or reacts to it is a way that is harmful. However, there may be times when the insult is actually a benefit to the body. This phenomenon is particularly difficult to identify and quantify.
    As a result, acitivites to identify and mitigate the harm done by these substances are based on epidemologial studies of various sorts of populations. Some of them are heterogeneous, some homogeneous, but in no case is it possible for the researchers to perform a real scientific trial, where the same experiment is done on the same subjects under different conditions and levels of “insult”, to verify the hypothesis. It is utterly impossible to strictly reproduce, within the limits of the measuring technique, the results of any epidemological study, much less perform a confirmatory experiment. No one can make reproducible predictions of how any individual will react to the “insult”, because some will shrug it off, some will get sick or die, and some will actually get better. The researchers cannot identify which category individual people will fall into. They only predict the results for large populations, and even then, there are large uncertainties.
    Human bodies are complicated, and our understanding of how they work is limited.Small doses and the concept of risk are very difficult for the human mind to deal with. it all comes down to those who have the most convincing, or the scariest stories. (This is where the “Precautionary Principle” come in.)
    So, the uncertainties in these activities are huge, as are the controversies. The public health industry has a strong vested interest in pursuing them, because it builds empires and careers. They only care about overall population health care. If some people are harmed by the intervention, then they don’t care because they have calculated (note that this is a calculation, not an enumeration of any real dead bodies) nthat the overall outcome will be positive. I like to say that studies and activies like these are only of interest to governments and insurance companies. They only apply to large populations, as a whole, and only governments and insurance companies care about populations as a whole. Everyone else cares about specific individual people, not populations.
    This series will be fun.

    • Reply to rxc ==> You are right about several things:
      “Human bodies are complicated, and our understanding of how they work is limited.” Absolutely correct.
      “The public health industry….care[s] about overall population health care.” The Public Health viewpoint, powered by misguided epidemiology, leads to many amusing, if harmful, public health stances, such as “If every one could lose 5 pounds, it would solve the obesity epidemic and improve public health” on the basis that millions of excess pounds of body weight would be lost. Absolutely nonsensical, but commonly preached by public health officials.

  43. What can go very wrong with a “Low Sodium = 2000 mg Na /day Diet”? Sweat!
    Especially for very active, working, or exercising people/athletes/children a “Low Sodium Diet” is dangerous in terms of Low Blood Pressure and Hyponatremia.
    Each Liter of Sweat contains about 2000 mg Sodium, which needs to be replaced throughout the day along with each Liter of lost water. People usually know enough to replace the water because they get thirsty and therefore replace their lost effective Blood Volume by drinking fluids containing water. This takes care of the potential Low Blood Pressure problem which can result from effectively losing Blood Volume by sweating.
    But to also keep from developing Hyponatremia [low Sodium concentration with possible Cerebral Edema and Death] the lost Sodium must also be replaced – along with, but usually after starting with “free water” replacement, because more water than Sodium Chloride = NaCl = “Table Salt” is lost by sweating, as compared to normal body fluid concentrations: ~2/1 = Water/Salt is lost through sweating.
    One teaspoon of Table Salt [Sodium Chloride = NaCl] contains ~2,300 milligrams (mg) of Sodium.
    I add ~1-2 tsp Table Salt to my food/day because I exercise, sweat a lot, and like it. I would start to think about using less Salt overall if I had High Blood Pressure, just to see if that would cure it or help in lowering it. Otherwise, fageddaboudit!

    • Agree.
      I have always had marginal levels of sodium in my blood. The problem is that in summer or any time I exercise to the point of perspiring, I can get into ta hyponatremia condition. Maybe I lose more salt than most. The straps on my bike helmet turn white after a hot weather ride. Hyponatremia has put me in the hospital twice. Now, I know to add salt to all my food and drink in warm weather. I typically add 1/8 teaspoon to each 24 oz water bottle, and avoid drinking plain water on my rides. I make it a point to add salt to everything according to what tastes right. In the old days, before sodium levels in food were reduced, I never had this issue and never added salt to anything. Too little sodium can kill. Normal sodium levels are 135 to 140 (forget the units). My levels are always 135 or lower no matter how much sodium I take in. The first time I was in the hospital, prior to learning about hyponatremia’s dangers, my level was 123.
      The directive to lower sodium should be taken with a grain of salt. Everyone is different and general guidelines might not be right for you. If you regularly exercise, look for the signs of chronic hyponatremia. Lethargy, insomnia, confusion, depression, poor short term memory, general weakness.

  44. I have pretty strong opinions on this. I had a friend die from low saline levels.
    When I would take him to the hospital he would be like a stroke victim (there were several episodes). A salt level of 100 basically turns your brain off.
    He was convinced he had to eat “healthy”. A mandatory addition of chips and salsa to his diet would have saved him.

    • Reply to PA ==> I’m sorry your friend died due to accepting bad nutrition advice — I tell my friends that they need to take a general human physiology course online to prevent their being fooled into endangering their health by following idiotic food fads.
      Your example is precisely what Mente and others are trying to prevent.

  45. My brother in his 40s was very fatigued and fainting. I asked about his diet. He and wife ate hardly any salt. Turns out it made his blood pressure too low. I told him add salt to diet. He did and completely recovered.

    • Had he gone to a doctor, the first thing would be to check his blood pressure, And the solution would’ve been found there. As I said before, there is an optimum range of daily sodium intake. Taking too much or too little is just as bad.
      I had to go through a delicate balancing act at one point in my diet. I originally started because I was overweight and on blood pressure meds. As my weight and blood pressure came down, the blood pressure meds had to be cut back just right to match.

    • Reply to Craig Loehle ==> Yes, we are seeing many personal experiences of harm from diets too low in salt.
      People should have a personal physician, who should be a friend and know you, and get regular (depends on age) checkups, which include BP readings.
      A relation of mine was advised by her doctor to increase her salt intake (she too has a health food predilection) because of BP too low. Perked her right up.

      • Even better, now that they’re cheap, get a home BP meter and use it regularly. Get to know what your diurnal BP range is. Get a good physician (MD or DO, doesn’t matter or didn’t … it might now) and pass that data on. It may give you a few more days to walk in the sun.

  46. Thank you for an informative and dispassionate article. I hope more people become aware of this important issue.
    I am probably in that subgroup of 10-15% who are salt-sensitive. While I don’t believe in government control, I think more should be done to inform people how much sodium is in food. Processed food and restaurants are the big offenders. I read nutrition labels, and am sometimes shocked at how much salt is used. As we all know, the “serving size” is almost always ridiculously small, as in “1 cup” of a common food such as cereal or pasta. Who eats just ONE cup? A six year old? Yet, some processed foods contain over 2,000mg of sodium in one “serving”! While I support public pressure to end oversalting foods, I firmly want to avoid making it a government mandate.
    I am an older son of parents who left me with genetic predisposition to heart and kidney disease, and obesity. In my late 30s I was told my BP was too high, but I didn’t pay attention. I began suffering at-rest angina at age 53 and had stents implanted in 2001 & 2005. My cardiologist told me I had fairly aggressive heart disease. But my total cholesterol was not even 200! Nevertheless I altered my diet to lower cholesterol and sodium, and began taking anti-hypertensive and vasodilating medications, along with a statin. I also began a serious exercise regime. In 15 years I’m still pretty much the same weight I was long before I had symptoms, but my cholesterol and BP are well controlled now. I don’t suffer from angina, and though I’m not as able to exercise as before I still go to the gym and bike several miles 3x a week.
    I can’t wait for your series on Climate Wars and “Second Hand Smoke”. ASIDE: I was a C-SPAN junkie in the 80s – 90s and watched the congressional hearings that led to targeting second-hand smoke as a public hazard. The government cherry-picked studies that showed a link, and ignored many others and serious evidence that disproved it. Same with DDT, where a group of eminent senior scientists presented convincing evidence that there was questionable science behind the ban.
    Again, thank you for your efforts.

  47. Two extra points:
    1 – add under “What We Know About Dietary Salt:” the following point:
    “Humans have very effective bio-systems which excrete excess salt.”
    2 – Has anyone critically examined the assertion “High blood pressure (BP) is associated with cardiovascular disease and risk of premature death.”?

    • Reply to Dodgy Geezer ==> As for your point #2, there is really no doubt that, in an epidemiological sense, that “High blood pressure (BP) is associated with cardiovascular disease and risk of premature death.”
      The key word is “associated” and key context is “epidemiological”.
      Epidemiology, as a field of science, is incapable of discovering causes. It can only discover associations.
      The statement only means that in the population-wide sense, people with high BP are more likely to have cv disease and suffer premature death than those with normal BP.
      Mistaking these epidemiological associations as “causes” results in lots of misguided public health measures — the thinking being that reducing things associated with cv disease will actually reduce cv disease incidence.

      • By ‘critically examine’ I meant that someone should look for cause/effect and association with other phenomena. For instance, raised blood pressure is associated with old age – is it simply a natural progression like baldness or wrinkly skin? I’m pretty sure that going grey is strongly associated with reduced life expectancy – perhaps we should have hair dye prescribed?

      • Reply to Dodgy Geezer ==> Increasing age does generally include rising BP. It is one of the aspect of human physiology that leads to the finding that “high BP is associated with increased risk of death” — as older people die more often than younger people.

  48. I personally consume about a heaped tablespoon of trisodium citrate every day.
    It’s TRIsodium, so three for the price of one.
    Actually, it’s a powerful buffer and I started to consume it for the sake of providing symptomatic relief for a UTI a few years ago. Then I discovered that I felt better generally if I took some daily.
    If you see me posting here, then be assured that I am not dead yet.
    I also cure chicken in sodium bicarbonate. Before cooking it. Another experimental project of mine.
    And I eat generous amounts of salty red chilli sauce on everything that I eat.
    Plus, I’m a fan of sauerkraut. (Cabbage pickled in salt).
    So, I’m not going to suffer from a sodium deficiency anytime in the near future.
    But, I figured that my ancestors evolved in a salty ocean, so we have probably by now evolved some mechanism by which we cope with exposure to sodium.
    I’m not really all that interested in what modern nutritional science has to say about my preferred diet.
    As far as I can see about 99% per cent of nutritional science is bunk.
    As is 97% of climate science, of course!! 🙂

    • Would you please post a recipe or link to a recipe for sodium bicarbonate chicken? This sounds very interesting…

      • Hi Peter, Thanks for your interest.
        I’ve been cutting down on carbs and increasing my intake of protein and fat. (After my partner read Taubes, about 5 years ago).
        I also do a lot of exercise and physical work, so I wanted to create an easy to digest, cheap source of nutrients and calories.
        I noticed that meat shrinks and becomes tough (and hard to digest) when cooked in acid conditions and so I decided to see how it would behave when first soaked in an edible alkali.
        It’s a work in progress.
        Currently I buy about 4 kilo of chicken thighs and mix up about 30grams of Sodium Bicarbonate in about 150ml water.
        I also add meat tenderizer (papain) or bromelain.
        I throw all this into a tough plastic sack and seal it with a cable tie.
        I leave the sack in the fridge for several days. Then – I transfer it to a big pan and rinse it with a few changes of fresh water and then bring it to heat, just covered with more fresh water.
        What happens – is rather than shrinking, the pieces of chicken expand.
        I leave it cooking on a low heat for most of a day.
        It’s the tenderest chicken I’ve ever had. Which was my intention.
        I’ve only been doing this for a few months and I’m constantly improving the process.
        I have googled for more information with little success.
        This subject has been investigated by food scientists – but I have not been able to find anyone who is presenting this as a recipe for home cooking.
        Here is a scientific paper produced by some people who appear to have made a similar discovery!!

    • I would wonder a little about your intake of citrate, but if the current level does you good then good for you. Citrate chelates Ca and Mg in soluble but non-ionised forms, making them unavailable to the body. This has the potential if taken to excess of possibly causing decalcification of the bones, or even acutely tetani.
      Like so many things be careful of excess.

      • Reply to indefatigablefrog and Richard of NZ ==> Trisodium Citrate has medicinal uses and is used as a food ingredient. It makes a good descaler for boilers too. It is good advice to be careful of excess when dealing with any kind of substance being self-prescribed as a dietary supplement.

      • Thanks, I hadn’t got that far in my analysis. I like my grasp of food science, like I like my citrate – weakly basic.
        I’d be more concerned about consumption of oxalates and phytates.
        Which are widespread in the current “scientifically recommended diet”, in all manner of “healthy natural wholefoods” from unfermented soy, to wholegrains, to lightly steamed veg. i.e. everything that we are being advised to eat instead of meat.
        Phytates and Oxalates form insoluble chelates with minerals stolen from the body.
        That’s my weakly basic understanding. So I shun most currently popular non-traditional “health food”.
        I seem to be thriving on my daily drink of citrate and citric acid (to taste). I actually enjoy it.
        But, I will take heed of your warning and look more deeply into the potential long-term consequences.
        So, thanks.
        (P.S. Until a few years ago, I had become pretty feeble and frequently unwell after years of a conventionally recommended high carb, high fruit and veg “healthy diet” – I have experienced a complete turn around since adopting a diet of mostly meat, eggs and a minor dairy component.
        I now feel strong again and have good steady energy levels.
        I would prefer this condition of living – even IF it shortened my life due to a premature cardiovascular catastrophe!!!)

  49. Thanks for a very interesting article. Others on this thread have pointed out other areas that will play out in the same way (pesticides, second hand smoke, etc) Of course the amount of damage done to medicine by the lumping together of all occurrences of cancer to smoking would be interesting to read about. I recall a fellow passing away from prostate cancer who’s family was told the cause was his smoking (a practice he had stopped 40 years earlier) His was a “smoking related” cancer death no matter what else may have transpired in the intervening 40 years.

  50. Thanks for the summary and overview. As or after this series progresses, I’d love to see some discussion about the “emotional” attachments to various positions by general public impacted by the “science.
    For understandably selfish reasons I want the best information pertinent to me about salt and my health and am hopeful that I am avoiding emotional attachments to one view or the other. For years I understood it to be important to limit salt intake. I never added salt to anything and avoided processed foods (Though I’d eat what was good at social gatherings and restaurants.) My tastes changed a lot and I found a lot of food too salty. Lately I’ve heard differing perspectives and as my blood pressure and health is fine, I’ve been adding some salt to my diet. I don’t have an emotional attachment either way as far as hoping one side is correct or not. I want to do what’s best – whichever that is.
    I’d like to say that is my stance towards every scientific controversy and I would hope that would be the general stance for most of the public. But I wonder, do we become partisans due to things like our distaste and annoyance for the smug/obnoxious/dogmatic defenders on one side or the other?

      • Thanks Kip. The study is supportive of where I’ve landed over the last year or so – believing that moderate salt intake is better for me than low sodium intake.
        My “best guess” is that the Mente conclusions will be born out in time, but I’d change my opinion in a heartbeat with no angst if good evidence emerged to the contrary.

  51. study 1:
    morbidly obese people on a reduced salt diet have reduce heart attacks, therefore everyone, even healthy people should eat less salt.
    study 2:
    morbidly obese people on a increased digitalis diet have reduced heart attacks, therefore everyone, even healthy people should get more digitalis.

  52. The American Heart Association – isn’t that the same organization that has been warning us of the dangers of dietary cholesterol for the past half-century?
    Yet another example of the real dangers: politicization of science. But nobody wants to learn.

  53. Personal hypothesis re: preferences for salty v. no-extra-salt foods.
    People who love the taste of salt have body physiology that is adapted to that level of intake. Their body’s are conditioned to handling that level of salt intake and, as a result, are physiologically set to “expect” such intake and to excrete any excess so as to maintain the internal milieu (homeostasis). Those individuals that can not tolerate the taste of salt, have the opposite problem. Their systems are set to retain what salt they need and–should they ever need to “find” extra salt in the environment–to be able to sense its presence.
    I suspect that one of the ways the body accommodates these diametrically opposing–and possibly varying during one’s life– interests, is by adjusting the sensitivity of the salt-receptor taste buds accordingly.
    So those who eat a lot of salt have tongues that are relatively insensitve to NaCl, and thus such people love anchovies and use a lot of exogenous salt–to maintain the body’s salt in the face of the “expected” rate of loss. On the other hand, those who have exquisitely salt-sensitive taste buds, are already optimized to conserve salt and can get their needs met by the other foods they seek out in their “natural” diets.
    Personally, I love salt. Indeed in the past, I used to salt everything before tasting it. I would salt a steak and then still find the need to salt each bite in order to adequately “taste” the salt. At one point, I decided to reduce my salt intake in deference to the “Received Nutritional Wisdom.” I found, that after a while as my body adjusted to the new “salt-intake environment,” I was able unable to tolerate the salt content of foods I used to enjoy (such as canned tomato soup), and overall my salt level “preference” adjusted to the new intake.
    Thanks for the enjoyable essay, Kip. Best wishes for great success in life’s ongoing battle that we all face in maintaining our health as we age.

  54. Those low-salters seem just as bad as global warming consensususts – even up to their political moves. Salt just happens to be a nutrient and nature has equipped us with a device for determining how much we need – taste buds. Some facts they left out that could shine light on the situation. It is well known that different national diets use different amounts of salt. Thus, for example, Americans eat about six grams of salt a day while the Chinese eat eight. I have not heard anything about how this relates to relative health, hypertension, etc of these two nations which these salt professors study.

    • It’s my hypothesis that we need so many “experts” to tell us what to eat today because so many people no longer have FAMILIES worthy of the name capable of handing down traditional food “wisdom.”

  55. Most American’s iodine intake depends mostly on salt. Low iodine can cause
    hypothyroidism and weight gain. Low iodine is associated with breast cancer,
    some other cancers, and low IQ babies.
    I am still an athlete though I am a little old to compete, and I eat nothing
    low fat. There is satiety in fats.
    Episodically, my wife is a nurse, and her friends who work in the ER say
    that there has been an increase in admissions in the summer due to electrolyte
    imbalance, after Michelle O advised people to reduce salt intake.

    • I have wondered too about the increase in sea salt usage which is not iodized, contributing to low iodine intake.

  56. Salt is good for you. Here is the key quote:
    ‘In a multivariate-adjusted model, those who consumed less than 3000 mg of sodium per day had a 25% increased risk of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular events compared with those who consumed between 4000 mg and 5990 mg/day (reference group).’ [1]
    Please read the following. You will also enjoy Dr. Kendrick’s other blog posts:
    “One of the most pervasive and stupid things that we are currently told to do is to reduce salt intake. This advice has never been based on controlled clinical studies, ever. Yet, as with the cholesterol myth, the dogma that we should all reduce salt intake has become impervious to facts. I find that the ‘salt hypothesis’ is rather like a monster from a 1950s B movie. Every time you attack it with evidence it simply shrugs it off and grows even stronger.
    Very recently, a study was done in Australia looking at salt intake. Actually it looked at sodium intake, not salt intake. I find this interesting, as no-one that I know eats sodium. In fact, it would be interesting to see someone try. To quote from Wikipedia
    ‘Sodium is generally less reactive than potassium and more reactive than lithium. Like all the alkali metals, it reacts exothermically with water, to the point that sufficiently large pieces melt to a sphere and may explode; this reaction produces caustic sodium hydroxide and flammable hydrogen gas.’
    Consuming two grams sodium would likely cause you to explode, splattering sodium hydroxide over the walls. Along with various organs and other body parts.
    So why do people talk about sodium consumption? I have never really worked this one out. But it does make things rather confusing. The latest guidelines suggest we should consume less than 2300mg of sodium a day, even as low as 1500mg. Go on, try it. Any idea how much salt (NaCl) that would be? Any idea how much salt you consume every day? No, thought not.
    Yes, we have been given guidelines that are totally meaningless, and impossible to follow. In fact 2300mg of sodium is roughly 6000mg of salt (NaCl). So why are we not advise to eat six grams of salt a day? I have no idea. Perhaps someone can tell me. What is this sodium nonsense? [Not that anyone has any idea what six grams of salt even looks like poured out of a salt shaker – I know, I have tried this several times.]
    Of course, when I started looking into this area, I went at it sideways. If we eat salt we are eating both sodium, and chloride. You cannot have one without the other. So I became interested in the chloride issue, not the sodium. We are always warned about sodium, but no-one ever mentions chloride levels. Is there any evidence that high chloride consumption is bad for us?
    This is an area mostly defined by silence, and zero research. But I have found a few papers looking at chloride levels in the blood and, guess what? They have all found that a low chloride level is associated with a higher mortality. Here is one such, entitled ‘Serum chloride is an independent predictor of mortality in hypertensive patients.’
    ‘Low, not high Serum Chloride- (<100 mEq/L), is associated with greater mortality risk independent of obvious confounders. Further studies are needed to elucidate the relation between Cl- and risk.’ (view here)
    There you go. Having a low chloride level makes it more likely you will die early. Yet, having a high level of sodium consumption makes is supposed to kill you? And you cannot eat sodium without eating chloride at the same time. Go figure. You mean you can’t?
    Anyway, to return to the, not yet published Australian study, here is what they found.
    ‘In a multivariate-adjusted model, those who consumed less than 3000 mg of sodium per day had a 25% increased risk of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular events compared with those who consumed between 4000 mg and 5990 mg/day (reference group).’ [1]
    The guidelines tell us to eat less than 2300mg of salt. At this level, if we use the Australian data, overall mortality will be increased by 25%. Excellent advice then. And this is not just one contradictory study. Several other trials have clearly demonstrated that reducing salt intake significantly increases mortality in high risk patients. Particularly those with heart failure, where it would be expected that salt reduction would have the greatest benefit. Yet the trials showed the exact opposite.
    As explained in the Journal Stroke. The section I have quoted below is taken from a reply to an article entitled “Reducing Sodium Intake to Prevent Stroke: Time for Action, Not Hesitation” In this article Appel, the author, argues strongly that we must, absolutely must, reduce sodium intake. In reply, three cardiologists make the following points:
    ‘In regards to patient-oriented outcomes, Appel dismisses randomized trials in patients with heart failure as irrelevant because of the unconventional treatment approach of the investigators. Yet these trials—showing increases in hospitalizations and mortality with low-sodium intake versus normal-sodium intake—tested identical diets in intervention and comparison arms with the only difference being the level of ingested sodium (making these trials more relevant than DASH-Sodium and other trials Appel cites). Also, Appel fails to cite 3 relevant heart failure trials, all consistently show harm with reduced sodium intake.’ [2]
    In short, Appel, along with most ‘experts’ in this area had dismissed evidence he did not like.
    The simple fact is this. If you strip out all the data on salt consumption there is considerably more, and considerably more powerful data, suggesting a strong link between low salt consumption and increased mortality than the other way around.
    In reality, you can eat just about as much salt as you can stand – without harm. (Unless you have damaged kidneys and/or very high blood pressure)
    How can I possibly state this? Well, a very wise Swedish professor pointed something out to me a few years ago. If a patient is very ill in hospital and cannot eat, or drink, they will have a drip put up to replace fluids. This very often contains 0.9% NaCl. Or nine grams of salt per litre. Quite often the patient will have two litres of this replacement fluid a day – which is (as you may have figured) 18 grams of salt.
    So, we quite happy to give critically ill patients 18 grams of salt per day to help them get better – which has no discernable effect on their blood pressure, or anything else. Yet we tell people that they cannot eat more than six grams a day. Ho, ho. You earthlings are so funny.
    References (may require site registration or membership to access)
    [2] to be published soon

    • Reply to TedL ==>: Thanks for the additional input — there is a lot of evidence building for the anti-salt-reduction side.

    • “And you cannot eat sodium without eating chloride at the same time.” – how about Monosodium Glutamate, Disodium guanylate, Disodium inosinate – widely used “Taste enhancers”?

  57. Ok, some basics, then a questioon I have not seen raised.
    I am 66, healthy, and take no medication, suppplements, or whatever. I occasionally take some ibuprofen when I overdo physical activities. My BMI is 25. My blood pressure stays around 110/70. My cholesterol is higher than the guidelines, but the doc knows I object to statens, and I have no other risk factors for heart attack or stroke.
    I regularly salt foods. Most people, even in these comments, seem to have no clue as to how salt interacts with foods. It is a flavor enhancer. For instance, it will make sweet foods, sweeter. Try a little on pineapple, grapefruit, strawberries, or watermelon, and see for yourself. It will add complexity to other flavors. It will increase the enjoyment of your food (if you have not been made to feel guilty for adding salt).
    This article exactly confirms what I have gleaned from the literature over the past decade. Most people simply do not have to worry about their salt intake.
    I eat everything (I control my weight via calorie counting. The answer for me is portion control). I’m sure I get WAY more dietary salt than the guidelines, and that leads to my question. I get an annual physical, including a full blood analysis. They ALWAYS show that both my blood sodium and chloride levels are in the normal range. Shouldn’t THAT be the measure of whether a person’s salt intake is too much or too little? We each have our own little ‘chemistry factory’ in our bodies, and I doubt if everyone absorbs/elminates/uses any dietary component the same way. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a study that tried to correlate blood sodium and chloride to health issues, but am sure there must be some.

    • Apologies for the multiple typos. I’m using a damaged iPad, and it frequently ‘stutters’ on some letters (especially on the right side of the keyboard).

      • Reply to Jtom ==> Your body is a self-regulating organic chemical machine. Sometimes these machines get “out of whack” and don’t regulate themselves.
        The whole Salt Wars things is about correlating blood sodium levels and urine sodium levels (a measure of sodium intake) to overall health outcomes.

      • The problem, Kiip, is setting a standard maximum intake, e.g. 1500mg, for everyone. The relationship of dietary sodium to blood level sodium is not going to be the same for everyone. If a doctor told me to reduce my dietary sodium, for any reason, without even looking at my personal blood sodium level, I would drop him like a rock. What I am advocating is that no one should be told to reduce or increase anything in their diet unless there is evidence that that person’s chemistry is out of whack because of it.
        Both the sodium and chloride levels for my wife are very slightly below the normal range. If she were to develop high BP, and the doctor advised her to cut back on salt, my first thought would be medical malpractice
        Now my original question: how many of these studies looked at the actual blood sodium levels versus simply looking at consumption vs health outcomes? All of the studies I have read looked at diets or urine, calculated the salt intake, and correlated that to health outcomes. In my particular case, I would argue that high levels in my urine was meaningless, and would not manifest as a health problem because my blood levels were fine. Reducing salt consumption would be unnecessary.
        And, Kip, does it not follow that if your body is failing to eliminate salt properly, it would result in sodium levels being high in the blood and low in the urine, giving a completely wrong result to this research?

      • You’ve just eliminated 70-85% of the population (depending on how you define high BP). You are correct, of course, but how could bureaucrats rule over us, and eventually tax us, if they admtted that?

    • Reply to jtom ==> An interesting point — the majority of these studies do use urine sodium excretion as a measure, either morning fasting urine (first pee of the day) or 24-hr urine (all of the pee of a day). In fact, the AHA’s only scientific criticism of Mente et al. is that the studies they reviewed used morning fasting urine results instead of the more accurate 24-hr urine method. Mente replies that studies had clearly shown that the once a day urine test correlated very well with the 24-hr method (which is true). The 24-hr method makes large scale studies nearly impossible or restricts them to persons who are institutionalized (hospitals, prisons, armed services) which skews results in unknowable ways.
      Similarly, pulling blood samples every day and testing for sodium levels would restrict the participants to an institutional setting and thus not give us valid results about “free living humans”. Of course, that much blood work would make the study impossibly expensive as well.
      “Serious sodium retention can cause edema in kidney failure, also it can worsen high blood pressure symptom.” Studies on salt restrict their cohorts to those who are healthy, and exclude persons with kidney failure or disease.
      Overall, retained sodium is controlled for by the body by adjusting fluid volume — retaining water to offset retained sodium (salt) in order to maintain the correct =salinity of the body’s fluids overall.
      Perhaps one of the doctor’s reading here can address your question more fully.

  58. Didn’t comrade Bloomburg pull all of the salt shakers off of restaurant tables in NYC? When are you going to the essay called the Big Gulp wars? Lol. As the government takes over health care more and more of this crap is going to be the norm.

  59. Shoddy science is, I sometimes think, more common than the other kind.
    Especially if you think of “the misplaced certainty of assuming you know more than you do about the *question*” as shoddiness.
    Especially when it comes to medicine. “The wrong question” is epidemic there, as exemplified by the “salt to control blood pressure” vs. “other, vastly more effective controls” example above.

  60. 1. Anyone know of studies on vegetarians? As I understand it, plants are rich in potassium (the settlers used to use wood ashes, rich in potassium carbonate, as the alkali in making soap when boiled with fats). The nervous system uses sodium/potassium ratios, so maybe vegetarians might need more sodium chloride (salt) for balance. Wild herbivores crave salt, rich in sodium, calcium (for bones?), etc., perhaps to balance the potassium in their diet (aboriginal hunters knew this, staking out salt licks). Maybe this might be why normal humans find it difficult to restrict sodium, and like the taste (although I agree that excessive sodium, like excessive anything is not good). Just a suggestion.
    2. Re salt and high blood pressure. In my late 60s I was diagnosed with high blood pressure (systolic 160) and prescribed 20 mg Adalat XL daily. Before taking it, I spent a couple weeks taking background BP measurements. I found that taking 3 measurements separated by 2 minute intervals gave values varying over a 20 mm Hg range (maybe because my blood vessels do not relax totally between measurements, or because I settled down after rushing into the pharmacy; the trend was usually a decrease over time). What I noticed is that after vigorous exercise such as shovelling snow for an hour, or walking for 40 minutes, my BP dropped 20 or 30 mm Hg, although my pulse rate was higher. Makes sense to me, because what is of prime importance is the oxygen delivered to the brain, so with a higher pulse rate, maybe BP need not be as high when resting (perhaps the product of BP and pulse rate ought to be considered key). The Adalat does work, reducing my systolic BP to 130-140. However, a nurse mentioned that my BP of 140 in one measurement was worrying, so in later visits to the doc, I always walked vigorously for 40 minutes before showering and driving 30 minutes to the doc, so my measured BP was 110-120, “excellent for a man of my age”. I wonder if others have had the same experience? So a change of 1-2 mm Hg on a drastic change in sodium chloride intake might be considered irrelevant.

    • Reply to rogertaguchi ==> Check out the information on the DASH diet, linked in the essay, for information on potassium etc in a vegetable diet.
      Good luck with your “resting BP” — 160 is, in my unschooled opinion, a bit too high. 140, however, for a man your age, used to be considered normal.

      • Thanks for the suggestion to check out the DASH diet, a diet rich in veggies. The increased potassium is maybe what we really need if we get so much sodium daily (this may explain why one reader got headache relief from eating bananas). This simple remedy seems to be an order of magnitude more effective than a drastic decrease in sodium chloride (salt). BTW I do take my 20 mg Adalat XL daily to keep my resting systolic BP below 140, so don’t worry! Having reached my “three score and ten”, I treat every healthy day as a bonus!!!

    • Yanomami Indians eat a natural, hunter-gatherer, low-salt diet. Their blood pressure stays around 100/60 from cradle to grave. That is there’s no growth of blood pressure with age. It just may be that around 100/60 is the normal, natural human blood pressure, while what we have now is skewed because of the things like a salt intake excessive compared to a natural level.

  61. Aggressively lowering blood pressure once you are elderly, according to my M.D., has been found to be potentially more risky of adverse outcome. Better to not try & get it to stay at the level healthy young adults have just because that is the empirical “normal” range of ideal blood pressure.
    Doc also wised me up to the way ibupropen & naproxen (all NSAIDs actually) can raise blood pressure. Which is to point out that a vast subset of people self medicating with these over the counter “pain” medicines on a daily regimen could even be engaging in a consumption pattern
    that creates higher blood pressure more directly than how much salt they ate that day.

    • Reply to gringojay ==> The effect of NSAIDs on BP are reported to be “small” (for most people): “NSAIDs like aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and others all have the capacity to increase blood pressure. The average increase is small, but the actual amount of increase can vary widely from individual to individual.” If you are under treatment by a doctor for high BP, follow his advice and educate yourself on the issue.

  62. I wonder how much salt is in water that a person who swims in the ocean every day inevitably swallows?
    Even if you are careful not to swallow any, if you have your head under the water, i am pretty sure some will get in your mouth or nose and be absorbed.
    Another thing that bothers me about these guides is that they do not seem to ever be adjusted for amount of time spent exercising, what sort of climate one lives in, and how much time ones spends outside.
    The reason I bring this up is that it is quote obvious that a sweat contains a lot of salt. On days with low humidity, I sometimes get home with white stains on my shirt from dried up perspiration salts.
    I live in Florida, and work outside, and am a heavy perspire to begin with. For someone like me who works outside, spends time swimming biking, laying in the sun reading, and doing yard work, et…nearly every day, there is no chance I do not sweat out far more than someone who lives up north and works inside and does not work out much and almost never breaks a sweat.
    Plus, it seems to me drinking plenty of water must be a factor in whether or not you might be consuming too much salt, if there is such a thing. Some people are known to consume too small of a volume of fluids every day.
    I was also wondering about the fact that people, on average, live a very long time nowadays as compared to long ago…even though back then salt was one of the principle ways to preserve many sorts of foods, whether by pickling, salting or whatever. Imagine how much salt one might have eaten if food was salted instead of refrigerated or frozen, or dehydrated. And they did not have access to every kind of food, all year around, in fresh form.
    Finally, i have known a lot of people with very high BP who consumed low salt, or tried to, as a result of doctors orders.
    I do not know of a single one who ever was able to stop taking BP medications as a result of not eating salt, or that had their BP go down after they stopped eating salt.
    I have never worried about it, love salty snacks and salt a lot of the food i eat. My BP is between 110/70 and 120/80, my pulse ranges from 40 in the morning to about 55 if I am up and about.
    I am 55 and male.

  63. Nutritional science is junk science – just look at the “Fat wars” over the past 30 years – saturated fats a
    good place to start

    • Reply to aurthur4563 ==> Your statement is unfortunately over broad.
      Nutrition science has found dietary cures for illnesses that used to kill hundreds of thousands of children and adults: scurvy, beriberi, VAD (Vitamin A deficiency – the leading cause of preventable childhood blindness), rickets, Pellagra, and other dietary related diseases and conditions. General discoveries related to forming a “well rounded diet” have improved nutrition, and thus general well being, for almost all persons in the developed world.
      It is true, and I agree, that what often passes today for “nutritional advice”, most of it promulgated by food faddists, the “health food” industry, and vitamin and supplement manufacturers is nonsense at best, and ranges all the way to outright intentional fraud.

      • Kip, you’re welcome – too may people on this internet thing confuse “disagreeing on a topic” with “deadly personal enmity”. I disagree with your opinions on climate and sustainability, but wish you the same good health I wish everyone. Glad medical science has improved the prospects of people with heart conditions. I’ve got a close relative who’s doing quite well know with a cancer that would have been quickly lethal just a decade ago. Like all the sciences, it continues to progress through and by mistakes made.
        Regarding sailing – I’ll be watching the America’s Cup events here in Chicago this weekend. First time on fresh water. First time seeing the big winged racers up close.

      • Reply to b fagan ==> On the sailing front, my youngest son, who sailed over 10,000 miles with my wife and I when he was in his teens, recently received his Captain’s (and Master’s) License from the US Coast Guard and is working this summer for the first time as a professional Captain, taking out sailing charters on the glorious Hudson River. Later in the year he will Captain and teach sailing for older teens attending a Sailing Camp.
        Our 42 ft cat is on the hard in North Carolina, but we sail the Hudson in our son’s Rhodes 22 — the Merlin — a fast and fun little light-wind boat.
        Maybe you can post an essay here on lessons learned watching the America’s Cup — maybe the scientific differences between the boats and their approach to the race. I’d love to read it.

  64. The insurance industry tables back it up, and I wonder if it’s some co-dependant variable type of correlation. E.g. many people who eat high-salt diets tend to do other stuff that hurts their health. In logical speak… while A may not cause B, the presence of A is strongly associated with the presence of B.
    “Big Data” does a lot of this stuff. One of the more famous cases involves Target figuring out that a teenage girl was pregnant… before her father found out.

  65. A sprinkling of facts:
    1. The “epidemic” of overweight started in America following the issuing of dietary guideline back in the 70’s. Reduced fat, more carbs. Correlation is not causation, but it is suggestive.
    2. Genetics is a whole lot more complicated them Mendel ever suspected. There are genes that can change expression depending on sustained environmental stimuli. The fastest one relates to food availability. Nine months of bountiful food, and the metabolism shifts to store a significant percentage of calories. The utility of this to a wild animal, subject to significant swings in food availability, should not need elaboration. I suspect that this is involved in our weight issues.
    3. Socialism attracts cranks. George Orwell observed this in his “The Road to Wigan Pier” (1937).
    “In addition to this there is the horrible —- the really disquieting —- prevalence of cranks wherever Socialists are gathered together. One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism’ draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, ‘Nature Cure’ quack, pacifist, and feminist in England.”

  66. Kip,
    This is a great article and from the comments you have struck a chord with many readers, myself included. But I think your main thrust is to examine the various “Wars on…” in science and see how they have played out.
    In climate science, one of the greatest tocsins are the unknown-unknowns. We have a parallel in the 120 year old War on Bacteria.
    Since the invention of the microscope, Pasteurization and Penicillin, medical science has assumed that all bacteria are bad and need to be killed immediately and without reservation. This has led to what I think will be recognized (and is being recognized by all sentient medical scientists today) as the most destructive “War” in the history of medicine.
    Only since 2010 and a ground breaking study by the NIH, have we had any idea of the speciation and population of our microbiome. Turns out that 80% or more of our immune system is our gut bacteria – and 80% of the species (many thousands) were previously unknown. Which antibiotics kill. The biggest unknown-unknown disaster in the history of medicine. Now in your meat and water. Wonder why all the kids today in developed countries are sick? Why diabetes and Celiac disease are skyrocketing, along with many others?
    Using antibiotics for non-life threatening infections is like killing the crab grass in your lawn by napalming your entire forrest.
    The greatest danger of making policy decisions based on what is “known” are the unknowns lurking out there. Of course the sun and stars revolved around the earth – until the first telescope was turned on. Of course bacteria are bad and need to be eliminated – until the telescope doors of genetic sequencing were opened onto that world around 2010.
    Kip, I applaud your efforts and look forward to the fruits of your research. The scientific quest for knowledge is agnostic in its effects – this is how it is, take it or leave it. However, that quest is fraught with human weaknesses – a little knowledge is a dangerous thing and weak humans are only too willing to engage in confirmation bias and declare their ultimate knowledge.
    Maybe we should declare a War on Wars…

  67. “…This can lead to a “mandated solution” which is then sold as a cure-all for some existing problem. As the underlying science is in fact uncertain…”.
    I would add that it is an issue not just with being uncertain, but of inconsistency.
    Something may be true or useful in some instances, but not others, meaning mandated solutions and exaggeration often occurs when one ignores the fact that the particular feature or issue is inconsistent.
    Like trying to impose an equation on the stockmarket, or ignoring variations within a population, nature is often inconsistent (note the tautology); it even drives evolution, economies, and is a feature of many natural and human systems.

    • To me, the point is not so much inconsistent but more variably contingent, with way to many of the variables not known, not considered, equated to zero when small, and more.

  68. The list of possible “Wars” for you to write about is endless…
    Sugar, Fat, Alcohol, Meat and the list goes on I tend towards the line of “everything in moderation”>
    I get suspicious when people tell me this is how it is and don’t ask questions and anything that says otherwise is not science.
    James Bull

  69. Sea salt contains a fair amount of iodine from the microscopic shrimp like critters. Most processing plants now filter the water and remove the microscopic critters and the iodine. People living near the coast get plenty of iodine from the storms blowing in from the ocean. The goiter belts are all areas separated by mountains or distance from the storms. Some thyroid problems are more common along the coast because of the iodine in the soil.
    Unfortunately, the goiter belt in Africa persist because of the lack of iodized salt and cretinism persist almost unchanged from a hundred years ago. A few pennies per year would totally prevent the disease.
    charles kaluza

  70. Thank you Kip for this interesting read.
    Suggestions for further topics to investigate:
    The great cholesterol scam
    acid rain
    Ozone layer

  71. Salt and BP
    I first had high BP s 12ish years ago. The first suggestion was to reduce my salt/sodium intake, which I did. After it had absolutely NO effect, my doctor agreed that salt wasn’t the problem. I resumed my previous diet and again, no change.
    But it went down significantly when I started training in karate again.
    That experience got me looking into things a bit. I had already seen the problems with the ‘common knowledge’ on fat and cholesterol. Seeing the real state of nutritional science was quite revealing. The whole experience significantly increased my skepticism on all subjects of science.

    • Reply to Tony G ==> Blood Pressure, its causes and effects, is still itself the subject of a lot of uncertainty — in my opinion simply because itself is so very complex — there are so many factors at play. If our arteries and blood vessels were more like solid pipes, it would be easy, but blood vessels are flexible, dilate and constrict; the heart beats at different rates for an uncontrollable number of reasons, the tissue surrounding blood vessels constricts or relaxes, blood volume changes…this list goes on and on — and we haven’t touched on the idea of what causes each of those changing factors.
      Adequate moderate exercise, 20-30 minutes most days, gives most people 90-95% of all the health benefits available from exercise. Your BP improvement from karate may be a result of this.
      This part of your comment: “That experience got me looking into things a bit. I had already seen the problems with the ‘common knowledge’ on fat and cholesterol. Seeing the real state of nutritional science was quite revealing. The whole experience significantly increased my skepticism on all subjects of science.” demonstrates the societal harm that results from Science Wars.

    Thank you all for reading and joining into the conversation. I appreciate your concern for my health.
    The very existence of Science Wars fascinates me — and following the battles has been a pleasant intellectual diversion for me for at least the last 40 years.
    I am grateful for the many suggestions regarding which Wars to highlight. Suggestions include:
    Great Barrier Reef
    Acid Rain
    Ozone Hole
    Alcohol/Wine/Red Wine
    Dietary Fat/Carbohydrate
    Low-Level Pollution (Pm2.5 Etc)
    2nd Hand Smoke
    Nominations are still open — the comment sections here are normally left open (default settings here) for 15 days — so you’ve got more than a week left during which you can stop back and leave your suggestions. I’ll revisit and collect up all late ballots.
    While not all of these are science wars by strict definition, they all concern major ongoing scientific controversies.
    It is interesting, and unfortunate, that even the mention of certain science wars begins a mini-battle between polarized readers right here in the comments.
    I have a good start on the Great Barrier Reef Wars, the Obesity Wars and the GMO Wars all of which currently have major salvos being fired every few months.
    I haven’t forgotten that I still owe WUWT the 3rd and last installment in the Chaos & Climate series (here and here), touching on Strange Attractors.
    Reader TonyG shared this: “I had already seen the problems with the ‘common knowledge’ on fat and cholesterol. Seeing the real state of nutritional science was quite revealing. The whole experience significantly increased my skepticism on all subjects of science.” Noting that the conflicting claims and assertions of the Diet Wars had increased his “skepticism on all subjects of science” — this is the harm I perceive brought about by Science Wars: a loss in the ability of the general public to trust Science and scientists to truthfully and reliably inform them about the physical world around them.

      • Mr. Hansen is a master at this medium, it seems to me, Anthony (as are several of your regular contributors, including you). I thank you as well, again, for facilitating a great many interesting essays and the ensuing (extremely well moderated) discussions, which together constitute the best employment of this interactive medium I am aware of.
        Science is a terrible marcher, it seems to me . . but a wonderful dancer ; )

  73. Kip,
    I hope you plan on covering the “diet wars” on fats vs carbs – lots of people have touched on this in the posts. Perhaps something that more awareness of can lead to immediate health benefits for many.
    With the epidemic of obesity, diabetes, neurological diseases, there is something clearly wrong with how we are collectively living . And this has a real cost to everyone, both healthy & unhealthy, in the form of increased insurance rates & increased national debt (due to Medicare ). This is arguably one of the most pressing issues of our time if you sit back & think about it.

    • Reply to Jeff L ==> Yes — I will be covering the Diet Wars (by that or some other name).
      A great deal, but not all, of the seeming rise in ‘epidemics’ results from an aging population, we are collectively getting older and collectively suffering from the diseases and conditions of advancing age.
      For some time now, I have been intrigued by the idea that the obesity epidemic may be just that — an epidemic of some sort of an infectious transmittable disease or condition. There have been some hints of this in some recent small studies — that would be an interesting outcome to the continuing research into the causes of obesity, wouldn’t it?
      All in all, I do not think that there is some single cause — something that has been added or removed from our diets, that is causing the apparent rise in the conditions you mention. Nor do I think that “the modern Western diet” is to blame. Affluence, however, may be the blame for some of the problems involving overindulgence — in food, alcohol, sex and recreational drugs.
      On the other hand, it all may be a matter of perception — we are being told over and over how sick everyone is.
      Overall, people are living longer better lives in the developed world than ever before. The developing world is beginning to catch up.

  74. Yet another problem with “Single Factor Science”.
    There are very few things in this world explainable by a single factor.
    When you hear something to the effect of ” that the cause of this is this”, chances are that the argument is fallacious.

    • Reply to Walt D. ==> Single Factor Science — nice turn of phrase — related to, I suppose, Single Issue Fanatics.
      In the Epilogue, I linked to my earlier essays on Chaos and Climate. It is my opinion, shared by many others familiar with the field of nonlinear dynamics, that almost all physical systems (including biological systems) are, in a deep sense, inherently complex, complicated and involve nonlinear dynamics. In this essay, we get a hint at how complex the factors related to blood pressure can be.
      It is unlikely that NaCl , table salt, is the Big Red Control Knob for blood pressure.

    • Reply to BernardP ==> Yes, the study discussed was yet another salvo fired in the Salt Wars and represents a moderate support of the AHA position.
      The authors have the following associations:
      “Competing interests: All authors have completed the ICMJE uniform disclosure form at (available on request from the corresponding author) and declare: FH is a member of Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) and World Action on Salt and Health (WASH). Both CASH and WASH are non-profit charitable organisations and FH does not receive any financial support from CASH or WASH. GM is board member of World Hypertension League (WHL), chairman of Blood Pressure Association (BPA), chairman of Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) and chairman of World Action on Salt and Health (WASH). WHL, BPA, CASH and WASH are non-profit charitable organisations. GM does not receive any financial support from any of these organisations.”
      All three authors are members of, and in one case, Chairman of, two different anti-salt advocacy organizations: Consensus Action on Salt and Health and World Action on Salt and Health . That doesn’t mean that the study is invalid, but it is a meta-review that depends solely on statistical interpretations for its findings.
      The latest studies, mentioned in the main essay, find contradictory results — welcome to the Salt Wars.

  75. The Australian, today has an article about a scientist, Peter Ridd, that was censured by authorities at James Cook University for pointing out the very low quality of science involved in the photos claiming catastrophic bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef. He was found guilty of “Failing to act in a collegial way and in the academic spirit of the institution.” In plain language, I think that means he didn’t keep their dirty little secret.
    It’s paywalled, unfortunately, or I would post a link.

    • Reply to Hivemind ==> Please post the link anyway — and include a substantial quote — for my research on the GBR Wars.
      Thank you!

    • Reply to Hivemind ==> It is possible to read the story by first going the Google news aggregator link and then selecting the story titled “Reef whistleblower censured by James Cook University”. You must do it in that order, if I posted the link to the story, you’d hit the paywall. (The technical point is that the Australian’s website shows the page to those coming from the Google site — the right referrer — but not if you go to the story directly — my guess)

      • Hmmmmm…it worked for me several times, then quit working…some tricky coding down under, I suspect.

  76. “I am grateful for the many suggestions regarding which Wars to highlight.”
    I would suggest the “nuclear rocket war.” Notably the Orion rocket that proposes the use of mini atomic bombs for propulsion. It was proposed since 1950s and studied and supported by big names such Stanislaw Ulam, Freeman Dyson, Carl Sagan, Arthur Clarke, etc. I wonder why this science fiction refuses to die. My own calculations and common experience show it’s a big blunder.
    Supporters believe the steel pusher plate of the rocket will somehow withstand the nuclear blast and plasma shower. The plasma is at 67,000 C. A plasma cutter is ‘only’ 28,000 C and it vaporizes steel plates upon contact.
    Calculations using Newton’s 2nd law and kinematic equations reveal the rocket’s flaw. From Orion’s design data:
    ms = mass of ship (less pusher plate) = 380,000 kg
    mp = mass of pusher plate = 500,000 kg
    Ws = weight of ship (less pusher plate)
    Wp = weight of pusher plate
    P = pressure on pusher plate = 340 MPa
    D = diameter of plate = 25 m
    A = area of plate
    dt = time of contact of plasma = 300 microseconds
    The force F on the pusher plate is
    F = P A = 1.67 x 10^11 N
    The acceleration a of the plate is
    a = F/mp = 333,795 m/s^2
    Note this is equal to 34,000 g’s. 50 g acceleration is enough to kill a man. But as supporters will say that’s why we have shock absorbers to reduce the deadly acceleration. Can it really do that? Let’s see
    The velocity of the plate is
    Vp = a dt = 100 m/s
    Let’s say the shock absorbers can handle 50 g acceleration (no point in increasing the maximum because it will already kill the astronauts at 50 g) and 10 m is the maximum compression of the shock absorbers. The force at 50 g is
    F = ms 50 g = 1.86 x 10^8 N
    And the average force Fa is half of that. We can solve the following kinematic equations:
    ap = (-Fa – Wp)/mp
    as = (Fa – Ws)/ms
    xp = Vp t + ap t^2/2
    xs = 0 + as t^2/2
    Where ap and as are the accelerations and xp and xs are distances traveled by ship and plate respectively at time t. 50 g is reached when
    xp – xs > 10 m
    The solutions to the above equations show that the ship will reach 50 g in 0.13 second. Instant death to the astronauts. The shock absorbers slowed down the acceleration from 34,000 g in 0.0003 second to 50 g in 0.13 second. Still deadly
    I hope this put to rest the ‘nuclear rocket’ war

    • Reply to Dr. Strangelove ==> Personally, I have never heard of such a thing. However, I have recently toured the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral and seen information on the Orion rocket system.
      Orion will not be powered by anything that could possibly be considered “mini atomic bombs for propulsion.”
      The Orion SLS (Space Launch System) “will rely on two solid rocket boosters in addition to the huge, 200-foot-tall (61 meters) core stage, which will carry liquid hydrogen and oxygen to fuel four RS-25 engines. The RS-25 rocket engine is a workhorse: It powered the space shuttle…”
      Where in the world did ever get the idea that “mini atomic bombs” were involved?

      • Back in the 1950’s both the Americans and Soviets had concepts with nuclear-power propulsion. None actually flew. Many names of space programs have been re-used through the years.
        They were not as silly on the face of it as Dr. Strangelove makes it seem but, obviously, they had problems that were not overcome.

      • In 1865 Jules Verne wrote a sci fi novel ‘From the Earth to the Moon’ where the heroes were blasted from a giant cannon to the moon. Scientists at that time knew the idea was silly as the heroes would instantly die from the huge acceleration. The Orion nuclear rocket was just as silly in 1960 except some brilliant scientists liked the idea.

      • A less silly idea is the atomic airplane proposed by the great Richard Feynman. Instead of atomic bombs, it uses a nuclear reactor for propulsion which is more sensible. Had Feynman asked Orville Wright in 1948, he would have been educated why his atomic airplane would not fly (pun intended) Engineers like their airplanes to be lightweight. Nuclear propulsion operates on a Rankine cycle like a steam engine. Engineers don’t put steam engines on airplanes because they are heavy compared to internal combustion engines and jet engines. Physicists have a lot of new ideas but engineers pick only the practical ones.

      • Reply to Dr. Strangelove ==> Actually I had heard of the Sci-Fi idea, back when I was a child, in the 1950s. If you had linked to the Wiki, it would have helped. Like many things, a confusion of names (Orion also being the name of a current rocket system) prevents understanding — that and the leaving out the time context — there has been no serious consideration of the idea for 50 years.
        While the original idea was canned for both practical and political reasons, the ideas of using advanced power schemes for space-to-space propulsion may involve nuclear in some way.
        Can’t see this as a modern science war in the sense being discussed in this series, as it is not ongoing, and lacks the wide public exposure that is a hallmark of these this series.
        Thanks for participating here.

  77. “I am grateful for the many suggestions regarding which Wars to highlight.”
    I suggest the “nuclear rocket war.” Notably the Orion rocket that proposes the use of mini atomic bombs for propulsion. It was proposed since 1950s and studied and supported by big names such Stanislaw Ulam, Freeman Dyson, Carl Sagan, Arthur Clarke, etc. I wonder why this science fiction refuses to die. My own calculations and common experience show it’s a big blunder.
    Supporters believe the steel pusher plate of the rocket will somehow withstand the nuclear blast and plasma shower. The plasma is at 67,000 C. A plasma cutter is ‘only’ 28,000 C and it vaporizes steel plates upon contact.
    Calculations using Newton’s 2nd law and kinematic equations reveal the rocket’s flaw. From Orion’s design data:
    ms = mass of ship (less pusher plate) = 380,000 kg
    mp = mass of pusher plate = 500,000 kg
    Ws = weight of ship (less pusher plate)
    Wp = weight of pusher plate
    P = pressure on pusher plate = 340 MPa
    D = diameter of plate = 25 m
    A = area of plate
    dt = time of contact of plasma = 300 microseconds
    The force F on the pusher plate is
    F = P A = 1.67 x 10^11 N
    The acceleration a of the plate is
    a = F/mp = 333,795 m/s^2
    Note this is equal to 34,000 g’s. 50 g acceleration is enough to kill a man. But as supporters will say that’s why we have shock absorbers to reduce the deadly acceleration. Can it really do that? Let’s see
    The velocity of the plate is
    Vp = a dt = 100 m/s
    Let’s say the shock absorbers can handle 50 g acceleration (no point in increasing the maximum because it will already kill the astronauts at 50 g) and 10 m is the maximum compression of the shock absorbers. The force at 50 g is
    F = ms 50 g = 1.86 x 10^8 N
    And the average force Fa is half of that. We can solve the following kinematic equations:
    ap = (-Fa – Wp)/mp
    as = (Fa – Ws)/ms
    xp = Vp t + ap t^2/2
    xs = 0 + as t^2/2
    Where ap and as are the accelerations and xp and xs are distances traveled by ship and plate respectively at time t. 50 g is reached when
    xp – xs > 10 m
    The solutions to the above equations show that the ship will reach 50 g in 0.13 second. Instant death to the astronauts. The shock absorbers slowed down the acceleration from 34,000 g in 0.0003 second to 50 g in 0.13 second. Still deadly
    I hope this put to rest the ‘nuclear rocket’ war

    • Reply to Dr. Strangelove ==> Please use the Test Page for test posts. Commenting there allows you to see the result of your post, formatting etc.
      If you have “test post”ed because you think your posts are being binned or failing to appear, addressing a comment to MODERATOR (simply including this word) will bring your comment to their attention.

  78. I love this post and I suspect I will love the future posts in this series. I have embarked on a high fat low carb diet for 4-5 years now. I occasionally push all the way to ketosis and I’ve never felt better or been more lean. My athletic endurance has increased and I love my fat rich foods (butter, cheese, beef, fatty fish, olive oil, avocado, etc…). My overall lipid profile is great (although what great is, is very debatable) and I have very low inflammation markers.
    There are incredible parallels between nutrition and climate “science”. It’s sad really. I have a pretty liberal group of friends and unfortunately they never listen when I try to persuade them that the popular science in these areas is misleading people. Whenever I see something in the liberal media that questions the science (rarely) I try to share it with them in the hope they will at least read it. Unfortunately and frustratingly that mostly doesn’t happen. It is very frustrating. I’m sure many of them think I’m a raging conspiracy theorist.

    • Reply to McMark ==> The efforts to discover “the ideal human diet” are probably misguided and have resulted in a lot of nonsense. Unfortunately, the nonsense has tended to make people gun-shy of nutritional science and advice altogether — except for those few who seem perfectly happy to “go along” with whatever the latest advice is.
      Glad you’ve found a personal diet that suits your needs and lifestyle.

  79. Is the next article going to be on the cholesterol war?
    The nation’s top nutrition advisory panel has decided to drop its caution about eating cholesterol-laden food, a move that could undo almost 40 years of government warnings about its consumption.
    The group’s finding that cholesterol in the diet need no longer be considered a “nutrient of concern” stands in contrast to the committee’s findings five years ago, the last time it convened. During those proceedings, as in previous years, the panel deemed the issue of excess cholesterol in the American diet a public health concern.
    The finding follows an evolution of thinking among many nutritionists who now believe that, for healthy adults, eating foods high in cholesterol may not significantly affect the level of cholesterol in the blood or increase the risk of heart disease.

    • Reply to SocietalNorm ==> Yes, Cholesterol (and other dietary recommendations) Wars will be part of the series…thank you for the link.

  80. Salt was recently found to contribute do obesity. It does this by lowering the feeling of satiation we get from eating,
    This effect is new to published science, but it has been known by junk food producers for decades. Michale Moss wrote about this in his book “Salt, Sugar, Fat – how food giants hooked us”. Salt is an important part in this trininty, and it’s not hard to notice it’s very high in junk foods, eg Big Mac has sodium equivalent of 2.4g of salt. Canned soups tend to be worse. Notice a lot of excess sodium comes from MSG, not salt.
    Salt is not the only fattening mineral added to junk foods – excess additional iron and excess B vitamins have strong effects too.

    • Reply to GTR ==> There are many of these types of odd salvos in the Salt Wars. The newspaper report of the study you link actually says this:
      “A high salt intake may be linked to obesity, regardless of how many calories are consumed, experts have suggested.
      Writing in the journal Hypertension, researchers said there was suggestion of a link between how much salt a person eats and their weight, regardless of other factors.
      But other professionals urged caution, saying the findings were unreliable because people in the study self-reported how much they ate.
      Susan Jebb, professor of diet and population health at the University of Oxford, said “there is no way to be confident” in the findings.”
      “Salt reduction is important to reduce cardiovascular risk but the combination of a weak study design and lack of any strong mechanistic basis for the association between salt and fatness means that this study should not detract from the main cause of weight gain which is consuming too many calories,” she said.”
      All of those bolded words are Red Flags for any reading of a medical or nutritional study.
      The first red flag is the word MAY, which is an indication of the certainty/uncertainty of the original researchers…They are not even willing to say “is linked”.
      The second red flag is the phrase be linked….in this type of epidemiological study, a linkage simply means two things show up in the same group of people — it has nothing whatever to do with causation, nor is any claim of causation made. These types of studies can not find causes….only “links”.
      The third red flag is that the researchers were careful to reiterate that there was suggestion of a link — only a suggestion.
      Of course, when the journalist contacts other medical researchers, they point out the weak study design and lack of biological plausibility [“lack of any strong mechanistic basis for the association “].
      This is all very typical of the Salt Wars — and many other science wars, as we shall see.

      • Contrary to you I find modesty in the language that presents finding to be a virtue. Too many times we are faced with pompous, overconfident “science is settled” types, that readily exaggerate the certainty level of their results.
        Whole health field looks different depending on one’s goal of learning it. If it is for curiosity, fun of learning or enjoying seeing progress and discoveries then the fact that the thing is going on, being in development is a positive thing. But of course the focus of most people is going to be on a practical issues.
        Let’s face it – eating is something obligatory. Eating is something obligatory. We would prefer to have a certain information about it. We have to do in current times, and cannot postpone it until some theories reach a very high certainty levels or are rejected. Eating random stuff mindlesly doesn’t present a good option either. Notice that populations of the past successful in surviving, including our ancsestors, either as hunter-gaterers or farmers/pastoralist had extensive knowledge about food. Empirical, no science was available then.
        From the general need of eating combined with lack of perfect and complete knowledge about nutition we can conclude that we have to eat based on imperfect and incomplete knowledge. Be like an intelligence agency that extract conclusions important to the survival of the country from multiple noisy sources – informants that may be double agents, acquired documentation that may be incomplete or planted fakes etc. One may even argue that most of the world needs to make decisions using imperfect information…
        Suddenly what you criticize doesn’t look that bad. Within a framework of being able to decide based on somehow noisy and incomplete data such stuff is really valuable. Starting from the basics – salt in itself, directly cannot cause a weight gain because it is consumed in single digit grams per day. It cannot directly cause bodyfat gain as it is not converted to fat. So the possible mechanism of action are indirect, done via some proxy, or a series of proxies, like well organized criminal ogranizations do. As such it is going to be more difficult to detect and look less convincing to condemn than fat/carbs causing obesity, as these can do it directly via obvious means. In such context finding over and over that that there’s some relationship between salt and too much weight is meaningful.
        “With an extra gram of salt a day leading to a more than 20% increase in the chance of being heavy.” – that’s painful. Take your favorite – “suggestion of a link between how much salt a person eats and their weight, regardless of other factors.” – you noticed “suggestion of a link”; but why not “regardless of other factors”? Isn’t it like a clear arrow showing the perpetrator? By the way – if you want the same thing in stronger, more confident words – here it is:
        Some measurments like BMI are going to be affected by the water retention caused by salt, a pretty well-known effect of it’s excess. Such weight is easier to loose than fat, but it still means additional load on one’s joints or heavier and less ripped look.
        Alsod don’t ignore the other articles I’ve indicated, as these are more clear, “Salt Promotes Passive Overconsumption of Dietary Fat in Humans”, “Salt increased food and energy intakes by 11%”, “Fat taste sensitivity was negatively associated with the intake of high-fat meals but only in the presence of low salt”. So there you have it: the result – 11% increse in energy intakes, via mechanism of preventing proper sensing of fat intake by salt (lowering fat sensitivity compared to low salt). An indirect path.
        (this is the study that the first link was based on)
        The good news that one can acquire from data about salt is that the body conserves it pretty well. So there’s neither a need or a justification for frequent eating of salty foods. Foods in natural state contain little salt (but may have a lot of potassium like vegetables), and our species has been eating them sice our beginning, so this good news is like link to a suggestion what we may do? And if after some time you feel the hunger for salt – take it, treating like a supplement of infrequent use?

        • GTR
          Based on your comments, I don’t think you read any of what Kip wrote. I would also to venture that you don’t care to read anything that challenges your current beliefs on the subject.

      • Reply to GTR ==> The purpose of this essay (and thus, by extension, this comment section) is not to re-fight the Salt Wars (nor the Obesity Wars). Many people have strong opinions about these issues, but this is not the place to try to make yourself heard on the details of either of these topics.
        You demonstrate exactly how the fields become muddled by conflicting insistent assertions — demands that a certain preferred message be taken away from various purpose-selected study results. That, however, is not how science is done — that’s how science politics is done.
        I am not fighting the Salt Wars, I am reporting about the phenomena of science wars, with the Salt Wars as an example. in Part 2, I will use another science war as the example.

      • @Kip – if your series is about science, how it should work, how it is perhaps not working well now in some areas – perhaps it could include more outlook on the scientific context? As well as a context specific to the case. For example: we know that there’s a real/hard science that describes mechanisms by which the nature works. In case of salt – it’s chemistry, biochemistry, bioelectric effects, what organisms do with salt, via what tools (eg. sodium-potassium pupms). What we know about this science of salt is that it is reasonably solid, and not much controversial. And known among people educated in medicine, biology. This article somehow omitted this context, which may mislead some readers into thinkin that science is just these soft stuff of observational studies the article provided as examples.
        And even within these observational stuff: too much information that there are studies centering around the moderate (comparing almost the same things), with little or no information about the existance of extremes, and how they fared. Extremes are interesting, and hold valuable information, perhaps even breakthrough ones.
        Then there’s the context of food. It influences what influence results from the results of scientific studies. Some fields have no practical bearing of our lives and our eveyday decisions. The beginning of the universe is like that – very interesting, with perhaps the most brilliant people working on it. It doesn’t influence our lives, so we can acquire information about it however is comfortable for us. We can wait for the issues to be finally solved, or follow them as they develop and the debate rages on. Food is something we make decisions about like even few times a day. We have to act on the subject, whatever the state of knowledge about it is – coplete or not, confusing or clear. With bad decisions having bad outcomes, while it is sometimes difficult to get what the bad decision is at the time of making it. I think such information about the practicality of the area the article touches would make it better.
        Perhaps also some meta-numbers would be valuable? Like ‘theres X studies on the subject, Y show this, Z show that’. What is most studied, what is rarely studied, what areas lack appropriate interest? Somehow overall outlook from above, a position of external observer. Of course this may take a lot of time, resources, and perhaps delay publication of articles, so it’s like a tradeoff.

      • @GTR, if any ‘measure’ of obesity is a bad one, it is BMI (this is *a* cause of the “obesity” “epidemic”). BMI = weight (kg) / height*height (meters squared). As if body fat is the only thing that may be excessively retained, contingently.
        My own experience is that the far wings of the distribution, that is the most skinny and the most fat for their body’s best functioning, are the most at risk of death, from many causes or contributors.

  81. It’s not only abot statistics or observational studies. We know about the mechanisms of the body, and this knowledge does not show an excessive salt consumption in a positive light. Consider the role of potassium-sodium pumps, whose role is to move salt outside of the cell, where it is not welcome.
    “Another of the pump’s most important functions is preventing the swelling of cells. If sodium is not pumped out, water accumulates within the cell causing it to swell and ultimately burst.”
    Here you have a small collection of citations that present how harmful excess sodium is to the interor of the cells.
    Eg. “Synthetic ion transporters can induce apoptosis by facilitating chloride anion transport into cells”
    “Here we show that two pyridine diamide-strapped calix[4]pyrroles induce coupled chloride anion and sodium cation transport in both liposomal models and cells, and promote cell death by increasing intracellular chloride and sodium ion concentrations. Removing either ion from the extracellular media or blocking natural sodium channels with amiloride prevents this effect. Cell experiments show that the ion transporters induce the sodium chloride influx, which leads to an increased concentration of reactive oxygen species, release of cytochrome c from the mitochondria and apoptosis via caspase activation.”
    Again – too much salt inside the cell = cell dies. It’s the pumpin out the bad stuff that keeps cell alive. And the body is forced to spend huge amount of energy for this process.
    “The activity of Na-K pump has been estimated to account for 20-40 % of the resting energy expenditure in a typical adult.”
    Why would anyone want to expose his cells to the excess sodium intake, forcing them to pump it out like crazy, or if hese pumps fail – makig them swell and die?

    • Reply to observa ==> Thanks for the link. The journalist caught the sense of a science war very nicely — volley and response — not scientific responses — but policy planks. One side pro-statins, one side anti-statins.

    • One factor here is that the statins *do* help prevent excessive local cholesterol formation at the site of damaged cells/tissues and, thus, modulate the immune response. For some, this will be good. For others, it will not be good.

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