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Salt and the gut

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Going easy on the salt shaker could be a good thing for your gut health too!

 

We all know by now that having too much salt can lead to high blood pressure – which is linked to heart disease and stroke.

 

A new 2021 review of the science so far suggests our gut microbes play a role in the path from eating too much salt to hypertension (high blood pressure), with several studies finding high salt intake decreased certain gut bacteria (e.g. Lactobacillus, known to be health-promoting).

 

So could targeting your gut health be used as a treatment for hypertension too?

 

Well, most studies so far are animal studies – so we can’t say whether it’ll be the same for us.

 

In human studies, it does look like people with high blood pressure have different gut microbes than those with ‘normal’ blood pressure BUT overall the studies are a real mixed bag of results.

 

This link also varied pretty significantly between different ethnicities too. So honestly, it’s too early to say. Watch this space!

 

In the meantime, it’s worth being aware of how much salt you’re getting for your heart and gut health.

 

You don’t need to cut it out altogether – actually sodium is an important mineral we all need to function. So a little seasoning here and there is generally no bad thing! (unless you’ve been advised otherwise by your healthcare team)

 

  • Adults are recommended to have no more than 1 tsp of salt a day (6g of salt or 2.4g sodium).
  • For kids, it’s much lower at 1-5g max. depending on their age.

 

Here are a few of my tops to stay salt safe.

 

  1. Switch your salt shaker for a spice shaker.
  2. Take it slow and reduce your salt gradually over a few months. That way your taste buds can adapt.
  3. Swap salty snacks for homemade high-fibre snacks like my cinnamon-spiced popcorn in my book, so simple and so tasty. You won’t miss the added salt!

 

For more on salt look here

 

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