In the last of the My Big Fat Diet Show programmes this evening we were given some more misinformation. Food scientist Richard Marshall said, "We're programmed to need salt." - That is certainly not true. Babies are not born with a taste for salt. Salt is an acquired taste, though unfortunately it is not difficult to acquire the taste for salt, so it is wise to provide low salt meals for your children and protect them from getting into the habit of eating salty snacks like crisps, Pringles, salted nuts and cheese, especially the extra highly-salted cheese junk like Cheese Strings. The taste for salt can be like an addiction - a dangerous addiction that can result in high blood pressure, early onset type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and the risk of stroke and heart attack.
The food scientist went on to say, "It goes back to our evolution, we were hunter gatherers, we needed lots of energy all the time, so all those things we needed." - Well that's a strange thing to say in connection with salt, because salt contains no calories at all and so cannot provide energy, nor did hunter gatherers eat salt as such; they ate only the very small amount of salt naturally present in food, i.e. they did not eat added salt.
Reducing salt intake is an excellent way to lower high blood pressure. A guy who contacted me just over a week ago from my website, wanting advice about lowering his high blood pressure, reduced his salt intake as I advised and in just a week this is what he wrote to me: "Just to let you know that after one week of severely restricting my daily sodium intake to around 1000mg, my blood pressure has gone from 152/86(average of previous three weekly readings) to 133/88(average of three readings today." - Impressive, isn't it? He also says he has a lot more energy now.
Early humans in fact had a low sodium, high potassium food intake which means that our bodies evolved on a low sodium and high potassium intake. The modern diet has reversed this to high sodium and low potassium. The intake of salt has massively increased in recent years - as has the incidence of obesity and of the degenerative diseases I have listed.
To lose excess weight it is necessary to reduce fluid retention and fat retention. Both of these are easily and safely reduced by eating less salt/sodium. The weight reduction is speeded up by eating plenty of fruit and unsalted vegetables, because these are potassium-rich foods.
Some further important information these four programmes omitted to mention at all is that when you are overweight it is because you are sensitive to salt and so very prone to fluid retention. This problem with salt in turn depletes the body of the essential minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium and zinc, and the calcium loss in particular results in fat retention. - Fat retention is not caused by eating fatty foods. It is caused by insufficient essential minerals, especially calcium. So if you increase your calcium intake with milk or yoghurt say, you will be helping yourself to lose excess, unwanted fat, and lowering your risk of fragile bones and other problems that calcium deficiency causes. Dieting should be avoided, especially diets that restrict calories to fewer than the body requires. It is not necessary to diet to lose weight, and dieting is likely to make your body even more deficient in calcium and other essential nutrients.
Here is how to lose weight safely.
Sodium in foods
Read my Mensa article on Obesity and the Salt Connection