The idea seems straightforward when you think of high blood pressure: if you lower your salt intake, you will help to lower the blood pressure, or at least prevent it from getting worse. But the systems in our bodies don’t operate in isolation, and the good you do for one of them is bound to have positive effects in others. This was demonstrated yet again by a review conducted by the Cochrane Collaboration Renal Group.
This group reviewed thirteen studies relating to salt intake in diabetic patients. What they found was not entirely surprising, but the implications of their conclusions are widespread. First of all, they confirmed once again the connection of high salt intake and blood pressure issues. So clearly, diabetics would do well to reduce salt levels in their diet for that reason alone, because this reduction lowers the risk of strokes, heart attacks, and heart failure.
But the evidence gathered in the same studies also reinforces the understanding that high blood pressure is just as hard on the kidneys as on the heart. The studies also suggested that even for people whose blood pressure hasn’t yet inched into the “high” range, lowering salt intake will still have a positive effect on heart and kidney health.
This isn’t necessarily a rule condemning people to a life of tasteless food, however. Removing salt from one’s diet provides the opportunity to discover the natural, intrinsic tastes of food, and to combine these tastes into something that as delicious without needing a salty boost. While easing the blood pressure and helping the heart and kidneys, the lessening of salt might open up a whole new culinary world.
(View the Cochrane Renal Group Summary: Suckling RJ, He FJ, MacGregor GA. Altered dietary salt intake for preventing and treating diabetic kidney disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 12. Art. No.: CD006763. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006763.pub2)