Around December of last year a link made it’s way through the internet to me titled “Scientists Officially Link Processed Foods To Autoimmune Disease” from the website The Open Mind, written by Jade Small. The same article word for word has been published by Your Food Corner, Somediys. The original post is from Prevent Disease by April McCarthy on March 7, 2013. Their Facebook page has over 1.5 million followers. With permission from the original source it has been posted at Wake Up World, Healthy and Natural Life, Why Don’t You Try This?, Stepping Out of Pain, Little Me Tea, Eat to Beat MG, True Activist, Crossing Back to Health, Return to Health and many, many more. I have many issues with this article.
From the Yale study that is referenced in the article, the abstract states,
“increased dietary salt intake might represent an environmental risk factor for the development of autoimmune diseases through the induction of pathogenic TH17 cells”
This is a far cry from the article’s title, “Scientists OFFICIALLY LINK Processed Foods To Autoimmune Disease “. Also “processed food” is not what this article is about, it’s about salt/sodium intake. The correct title should be “Scientists find sodium consumption may be related to autoimmune disease“.
The study referenced was done on mice, a far cry from humans. The mice did not develop multiple sclerosis, alopecia, asthma or eczema, the diseases referenced in the article. the mice developed experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.
Regarding salt/sodium’s effects on the body, saltwater baths are beneficial for people with eczema. There is no scientific study that relates salt consumption with alopecia/hair loss. Reduced salt intake has been studied in asthma and it provided no benefits.
Sodium intake is directly correlated to high blood pressure and reducing risk of heart attack and stroke, but this article fails to mention that at all. If this article were true, would people with high sodium diets have higher incidence of autoimmune disorders? There is no such correlation. There is a trend for higher incidence of multiple sclerosis at higher latitudes like Canada and Scandinavian and they certainly are not the highest sodium consumers in the world. The highest salt consumption in the world is not found in the U.S. or Europe, but Asia by far.
The article mentions that Subway’s 6 inch Roasted Garlic Loaf bread has the sodium of 14 slices of bacon. It is an anomaly in Subway’s bread options as the rest are between 280-470 mg of sodium. Even though the Roasted Garlic Loaf has 1,260 mg of sodium, it is far from the recommended adult amount of 2,300mg per day.
According to the article, “Bread is the No. 1 source of refined salt consumption in the American diet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention” Is bread is the #1 source of refined salt intake per the CDC? Try the actual quote which is
“Breads and rolls, cold cuts/cured meats, and pizza are top contributors of sodium in the American diet“. The infograph even shows the sodium for 1 slice of white bread is 80 – 230 mg versus 510 – 760 mg for a slice of pizza or 450 – 1,050 mg for 3 oz of deli turkey meat. So is bread really the number 1 source of refined salt intake? Probably not.
And are mineral salts any better than “refined” salts? The article states, “Mineral salts…are healthy because they give your body the variety of mineral ions needed to balance its functions, remain healthy and heal“. “Mineral”/sea salt are still primarily sodium chloride, as is table salt. They typically have THE SAME sodium content……which isn’t what this article is about is bad? Why would Dr. Barbara Hendel say mineral salt is “healthy”? Because she sells it. Maybe that is why 61% of Americans think sea salt is a low sodium option (it’s definitely not). Difference in texture and flavor-yes, health-no.
“Mineral salts… have a variety of mineral ions needed to balance its functions, remain healthy and heal“. The highest amount of these minerals are calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron– all which you can get in much higher and beneficial quantities from various foods or supplements. The rest of those minerals are in far too small of quantities to have any affect on human health, and most of them you wouldn’t want to. Some minerals in higher percentage in mineral salts include bromine, francium. iridium, tantalum, and lead- all of which are poisonous and have absolutely no benefit to human consumption. What does table salt have? Iodine which is necessary for prevention of goiters and thyroid health.
Sodium is required for the human body and excess can cause health problems. Scientists found sodium consumption may be related to autoimmune disease. That is the take away from this article should be nothing more than that.