There is a full blown crisis brewing at The Carron Fish Bar, a fish and chip shop in Stonehaven, a small town on Scotland's northeast coast. Originally known as the Haven Chip Bar, the infamous Fried Mars Bar was said to have been invented there in 1995. As one of the world’s preeminent sources of fat, sugar and calories, The Carron's Fried Mars Bar quickly became a worldwide epicurean phenomenon and spawned a range of wannabes including deep fried Snickers, Bounty and Moro bars. No stranger to controversy, the Fried Mars Bar even had its detractors . Nevertheless, it kept sliding forward, amply lubricated by its own drippings.
Now, however, the Fried Mars Bar faces one of the greatest challenges of its life. The international food giant, Mars, has sent a formal letter to The Carron Fish Bar demanding that a disclaimer be made for the product because it is not in line with their healthy lifestyles marketing code – a code responsible for other products such as Bounty, Snickers, Revels, M&Ms, Maltesers and Twix in addition to their astronomically successful (or successfully astronomical) line of Mars, Milky Way, Magic Stars, Galaxy and the lesser known, Planets.
At this stage, it is not known what will happen if The Carron refuses to display the demanded disclaimer. The restaurant has not responded as yet. It may very well be that they will no longer be able to call their specialty a Fried Mars Bar, however, in keeping with the enormously successful Mars astronomical theme, they may choose to call it a UFO or Unidentified Frying Object!
There has been quite a bit of media coverage in the past week about Boston Market’s announcement that it has removed the salt shakers from its tables and replaced them with little cards hyping the company’s interest in reducing sodium. As highlighted in some articles , it was an interesting marketing ploy since it reaped the chain considerable publicity.
It also begs the question if Boston Market’s intention is to reject the notion that peoples tastes differ. One look at Boston Market’s nutritional information makes it clear that their products are brined. If you look at the ingredient listings right after the nutritional information, you will see that their chicken, turkey and beef products all contain up to 12-15% of brining solution (aka water and seasoning). Thus the seasoning levels are fixed at a particular level prior to getting to the client, as can be seen from the nutrition table.
It is unfortunate that Boston Market took this marketing tack at the very time that the preponderance of scientific evidence makes it clear that reducing salt in diets will increase the risk of morbidity and mortality . The fact that our public health institutions are in denial does not change the science.
But you can deny the facts only so long. When the scientific evidence becomes acknowledged, as it surely will be, in lightening speed the salt shakers will be back on the tables and the little cards pitched into the rotisserie.
Unlike silkworms (who can only eat mulberry leaves) or koala bears (who can only eat eucalyptus leaves), we humans are omnivores – we can eat whatever we like. Unfortunately, this lucky circumstance has a dark side to it, because some foods are unsafe to eat. Fortunately, we have known for very long times which are the natural foods that are risky, such as poisonous mushrooms or untreated cassava roots. This common sense knowledge notwithstanding, our growing dependence on others to supply our food has triggered a fear and distrust of all processed and restaurant foods.
Making matters worse is the horde of network “talking heads” and “consumer advocates” that manage to take bits and pieces of food- and health-related data and place them totally out of context in order to sensationalize them. The bearers of these morsels of ‘exclusive knowledge’ imply that consumers know nothing and need to be protected from all the dangers lurking in the food world. The sad truth is that these people are generally not experts in the field of food, nutrition or health at all. If they were, they would know that there is very little that is sensational in the field of food and health.
How many exotic fruits, teas and oils were supposed to cure cancer? Where are they now – except in the overpriced sections of high-end supermarkets of natural food stores? So, while these talking heads may not be expert in food and health, they are expert at getting the public’s attention – and using the occasion to profitably flog information that is little better than the proverbial snake oil.
It is a phenomenon that has played out most effectively in America. It is a wonder that anyone in the US can enjoy their food at all. People either end up not eating things that are delicious and healthy for them or they become defiant of the ‘urban knowledge’ that minimizes their enjoyment of food.
For instance, we have known for many years now that the urban legend asserting that all fats are bad for you, is wrong. Just like hormone replacement therapy, this knowledge was never based upon actual evidence, but on the opinions of physicians whose reputations far exceeded their technical competence and honesty. These people were all highly placed politically and exerted a great influence on our public health institutions. Just like the bogus advice on eggs and salt, their opinions have been proven totally wrong by the actual evidence. However, like stubborn warts, these opinions continue to survive, aided and abetted by our current crop of consumer advocates and public health bureaucrats, because they have supported the myth-information for so long, they can’t back out.
So we are left with the dilemma of how to resolve what food is good or bad for you. Most people have been blessed with a good deal of intelligence and common sense. Whether they have the confidence to use it is another question. I would highly recommend they do. At the very least, they should be skeptical of the gratuitous opinions that don’t quite add up to them.
A tiny exercise. We all know that we are living longer than we did years ago. So it is not news, but rather common sense, that diseases of old age are becoming more common. The increase in the rate of heart disease doesn’t mean that our food or our lifestyle is bad - it simply means that more people are living long enough to wear our parts out! We never enjoyed that privilege to the same extent before!
The real question to ask is what do we expect to be dying from as the population ages – head lice? Of course we will find higher rates of the diseases that reflect age. Does anyone actually think that they will manage to get out of life alive?
Eating is an integral part of life – it’s not just the act of ingesting nutrients. It should be a social and pleasurable experience – one that is not spoiled by hype and myth-information spread by fear mongers who have their own agendas.
There no doubt at all, your own common sense and judgment are the best tools to overcome the omnivore’s dilemma. Use them!
Harvey Levenstein, professor of history at McMaster University in Hamilton Ontario has just written a book entitled “Fear of Food - a history of why we worry about what we eat.” (See: http://tinyurl.com/ckyldhd ). In fact there is a legitimate medical condition called cibophobia or sitophobia, which causes a person to fear food, usually when it is prepared by someone other than themselves or if it contains an unfamiliar ingredient.
The fear of food has been around since we have chosen to allow others to prepare our foods. (See: http://tinyurl.com/bpyu6h7 ). The 1589 English Bread Assize was issued to protect consumers from flour contamination. One of the more famous books of the 19th century on food adulteration was written by Fredrick Accum in 1820, and described the fraudulent practices used in making bread, beer, tea, condiments and dairy products. This naturally heightened the fear that many had of foods being prepared by others.
The first regulation to control such practices was the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, also called the Wiley Act. As a result, food adulteration dropped dramatically. Nevertheless, many people still have a great deal of fear and suspicion of foods. Most of these are now driven often by the fear tactics of ‘consumer’ activists, who appear to be very long on rhetoric, but rather short on scientific evidence. Unfortunately, a great many journalists have abandoned solid research for the hype and headlines that these activists generate.
As a result, we have a population that is continuously bombarded with exaggerated threats posed by the dangers of foods. The old line, “Even paranoids have enemies,” may be cute but doesn’t vindicate paranoia. It is the same with any irrational fear, including cibophobia.
The book “Fear of Food” is a worthwhile read, especially since it also describes the negative role of organizations such as the American Heart Association in generating exaggerated and unjustified food fears amongst consumers in order to promote its own parochial goals. In fact, a full investigation of the tactics of the AHA would make an interesting book in itself. Keep that in mind the next time you eat supposedly heart healthy foods.
The Dietary Guidelines are a joint product of USDA and HHS. These Dietary Guidelines are reviewed, fully updated, and published every five years. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines must contain nutritional and dietary information for the general public and be based on the very latest scientific and medical knowledge.
For the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) was appointed to conduct an analysis of the latest scientific information on diet and health and to prepare a report summarizing its findings. As far as electrolytes are concerned (specifically salt or sodium), the process appeared to be highly flawed. Rather than independently and objectively assessing ALL of the scientific and medical data currently available, the DGAC merely adopted the conclusions of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines. Was there no additional new evidence to consider?
In 2005, the DGAC made its salt/sodium recommendations by simply adopting the figures from the Dietary Recommended Intakes (“DRIs”), published in 2004 by the Institute of Medicine (“IOM”) (1). But this document stated, “..because of insufficient data from dose-response trials, an Estimated Average Requirement could NOT be established and thus a Recommended Dietary Allowance could NOT be derived.” Nevertheless, despite acknowledging a lack of dose-response evidence, the document went on to make totally arbitrary recommendations - recommendations that are followed to this day (2) - recommendations that have since been shown to be all wrong (3).
How could this happen?
Looking deeper into the matter, it appears that one common thread links ALL the decisions to adopt flawed recommendations in the original DRIs, and then base two subsequent sets of Dietary Guidelines on those figures. Believe it or not, the Chairperson of the 2010 DGAC’s subcommittee on electrolytes did exactly the same job for the 2005 US Dietary Guidelines! But it doesn't stop there. That individual was also the Chairperson of the IOM Panel on Electrolytes the original DRI’s!
In other words, in what was supposed to be a fully independent analysis, the very same individual repeatedly evaluated his own recommendations! What did anyone expect the outcome to be? It's no different than a judicial appeal process that asks the same judge to evaluate his own previous judgement! Any ethical judge would recuse himself from the process.
You simply cannot have an independent, objective analytical process featuring the same person creating the original standards, then being asked to evaluate his own recommendations and then five years later, being tasked once again to evaluate his prior evaluation. Yet, that is exactly what happened.
What is worse is that all the US public health institutions, as well as public health institutions around the world have uncritically adopted these recommendations. This has resulted in what may be the biggest delusion in modern public health history!
1) Institute of Medicine, Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate, v.-xiii (2004).
2) Both the Dietary Guidelines and the 2005 Dietary Guidelines contain the same sodium limit range of 1500-2300 mg/day. Because a Recommended Daily Allowance could not be determined, the IOM set DRIs that are the basis for the sodium limits in both the 2010 Dietary Guidelines and the 2005 Dietary Guidelines. See IOM, Dietary Reference Intakes: Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate (2004).
3) Maillot M, Drewnowski A. A Conflict between Nutritionally Adequate Diets and Meeting the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Sodium. Am J Prev Med. 2012;42(2):174-179.
I always find it a bit strange to see the looks of disbelief on the faces of journalists when I tell them that lowering the salt content of foods will greatly increase the obesity epidemic. How can that be?
Well, it’s quite simple really. People will eat more food and ingest more calories just to satisfy their innate appetite for salt. We have decades of experience with animal feeding as a basis for this statement. If you’re freely feeding cattle expensive feed, you add more salt to satisfy their appetite and limit their intake. If you want them to eat more feed, you cut back on the salt.
For the skeptics out there, we have a great many examples which everyone can easily identify with. When we cut the nicotine out of cigarettes, people smoked far more; when we cut the sugar out of soft drinks, people swilled tons more low-cal beverages; when we cut the fat out of foods, people gorged themselves on low-fat, no-fat foods to such an extent, they ushered in the current obesity epidemic.
What do you possibly think people will do when they face a big bag of low-salt chips?
All the pharmacists out there should not be surprised in future when they come across a rash of doctors’ prescriptions from their obese patients – “Salt (generic sodium chloride), for control of obesity – shake on food as required.”
First of all, I am pleased that the dietary guidelines have finally begun to focus on whole foods and eating patterns rather than isolated nutrients. It’s a pity that it took the dietary guidelines 30 years and a public announcement by the Secretaries of Agriculture and HHS to state what grandma’s always said. I am also pleased that the Dietary Guidelines talk so highly about the Mediterranean eating pattern, which has been responsible for the excellent health statistics of that part of the world. What the dietary guidelines do not state, however, is that the levels of salt consumption in the Mediterranean diet are about 40% higher than in the US diet.
The new guidelines, if followed, will have significant unintended negative health consequences. A very recent Harvard study links low-salt diets to an increase in insulin resistance, the condition that is a precursor to Type 2 Diabetes. What’s more, many nutritionists predict the guidelines will worsen, not improve, the obesity crisis because people will consume more calories just to satisfy their innate salt appetite. Still other studies link lowered salt intakes to low-birth weights and cognition impairment in children and a greatly increased rate of falls and fractures among the elderly. (It is a standard practice in assisted living facilities to place all residents on low-salt diets – and the rates of falls and fractures in these assisted living facilities are three times as great as in the normal home environment.) Another recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by two renowned Harvard researchers demonstrates that while hypertension has increased among Americans over the last 40 years, sodium has remained virtually unchanged. These findings totally contradict the urban myth that assumes increasing salt intake is the main driver in population-wide hypertension. If, over the last four decades, high blood pressure increased significantly but salt consumption did not, then the two are not related. The Dietary Guidelines regarding salt are thus more a product of ideology rather than science. There is not a single scientific long-term study demonstrating that population-wide sodium reduction will lead to better overall health – on the contrary, there is considerable peer-reviewed clinical research that predicts several negative consequences, across all age groups. That is why the Salt Institute has, for many years, been the only organization that has repeatedly asked the Secretary HHS to support a large clinical trial that would show the health outcomes resulting from population-wide salt reduction. This request has always been refused. Because the Dietary Guidelines recommend a level of salt far lower than any other country in the world and lower than any period in recorded history, it effectively places the entire population into a massive clinical trial without our knowledge or without our consent.
Appenzell, Asiago, Brie, Gorgonzola, Camembert, Casciotta, Cheshire, Doppelrhamstufel, Stilton, Fontainebleau, Gloucester, Fontina, Neufchatel, Jarlsberg, Parmigiano Reggiano, Roquefort, Saint-Paulin, Vacherin-Fribourgeois – these are just a few of the thousands of cheeses produced around the world. Cheese is composed of the natural proteins and fat from the milk of cows, buffalo, goats, or sheep.
In some cases, a cheese may have a colorful and romantic history, such as the fabulous Italian Mozzarella di Bufala made from the milk of the water buffalo rather than from cow's milk. How on earth did Asian water buffalo get to Italy? Some say they were brought to Italy by the Goths during the migrations of the early medieval period, while others say that they were introduced by Normans from Sicily in the year 1000, and that traders from the Middle East originally introduced them into Sicily. Another theory is that water buffalo were brought from Mesopotamia into Italy by knights returning from the crusades. Whichever theory you ascribe to, one thing everyone can agree upon – the texture, aroma and creaminess of mozzarella from buffalo is incomparable and it’s all the result of the simple coagulation of the casein protein found in buffalo milk.
Natural cheeses are often cured in saturated salt brine. The salty brining solution removes excess water from the cheese and also helps to limit the growth of unwanted bacteria. Brine-cured cheeses have a slightly salty, savory flavor that is quite desirable in a great many cheeses, including Appenzeller, Asiago, Gouda and Parmesan. For other cheeses, such as Roquefort, Stilton and Gorgonzola varieties, salt is an indispensible ingredient for the growth of the Penicillium mold that gives these cheeses their blue-veined appearance and characteristic flavor.
What was started as a means of preserving milk has evolved in to a class of products that is universally adored around the world. Cheese can be eaten by itself, with a glass of wine, with fresh or preserved fruit, honey or crackers - as a meal or an appetizer. Good cheese, made with real milk is not cheap, but it is, without doubt, one of humankind’s great inventions.
Cheese is so popular that the idea of making artificial imitation cheese, called cheese analogs, was inevitable. Cheese analogs are made most frequently from soybeans but also made from rice, yeast and other non-dairy ingredients. Because analog cheese is an entirely formulated product, it can have an unlimited shelf life, a decreased cost, any artificial color or flavor and any desired melting or stretching characteristics. It can even be made cholesterol-free. That’s simply because it is not cheese.
The latest development is reduced salt in cheese . This can be easily accomplished because, as mentioned, analog cheese is not cheese, so there is no need for curing and no need for natural fermentation. The typical ingredient listing for analog mozzarella are: water, vegetable oil, soya concentrate, salt, spirit vinegar, artificial flavor, lactic acid (dairy-free), xanthan gum, carrageenan and yeast extract. To make life simple, for the other varieties of analog cheese the ingredients and their order in the ingredient list is identical, except that colors may be added at the end – paprika for analog cheddar cheese, turmeric for analog edam and annatto for analog gouda . It’s like different varieties of PlayDough – just change the food colors!
By reducing salt, the vinegar, artificial flavor, lactic acid, xanthan gum, carrageenan and even the yeast extract may all move ahead on the ingredient list. Now, that’s progress!
Give me natural cheese any day of the week!
The Institute of Medicine released its report on Front-of-Package Nutrition Labeling today . In what is becoming the norm for the IOM, they totally missed the opportunity to produce something actually useful for the American public and once again demonstrated how gratuitous status and intellectual inertia can be coupled with a good dose of taxpayer's money to produce a 175 page report that is pathetic rubbish.
Not only were the authors of the report steeped in the dogma of outdated labeling practices, they could not tear themselves away from a nutrition doctrinaire that is patently false.
We have known for 4 decades that the front of the package was a totally useless place to communicate information to consumers. Under pressure from consumer groups such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest, (who thought they could 'control' the food industry) the government quickly agreed to a series of front-of-package, side-of-package, and back-of-package labeling schemes. The fact is there is not enough real estate on a label for useful nutritional information, nor do consumers have enough time to read and digest it.
Of course, the understanding was that if the public was made fearful of certain nutrients, the limited information on the label would compliment this fear and the consumers' choices could be influenced. Never once was there the thought of actually educating the consumer, thereby allowing for an 'informed choice.'
From the very beginning of the labeling debate, there was the option to develop the Universal Product Code or UPS or Barcode into a consumer information system. For those consumers who had a genuine interest in nutrition, one swipe of the UPC across a scanner would bring up a complete database of nutritional information, recipes, allergies, etc., etc. No longer would there be a limitation on label real estate. Unfortunately, consumer advocacy organizations were far too interested in fighting it out with industry to employ some imagination in the interests of the constituency they supposedly worked for. Now, with near-universal access to the Internet and UPC-reading smartphones, this technology is easier to put into place than ever.
So conventional labeling systems, with all their insurmountable problems endured. Over the years, like a growing Tower of Babel, labeling systems became more complex and even less understandable. To deal with that problem, the food 'authoritarians' decided to simplify the label and go another step further in eliminating intelligent consumer's choice. Simplified systems intended to drive the consumer directly to a specific choice - traffic lights, check marks, scores, medical society endorsements - began to appear - designed to eliminate thought and dispense with informed decision making. Again, not the slightest thought given to educating the consumer.
Into the fray steps the Institute of Medicine whose 175 page report now says that the problem is that there is too much information on the front-of-package label. They recommend cutting it back to just four items. All consumers really need to know about is calories, saturated fat, trans fat and sodium.
This latest IOM report comes on the heels of two related publications: 1) the Harvard study by Bernstein and Willet , which revealed that sodium consumption has not changed in 40 years, while the rate of hypertension has gone up considerably, and 2) the report at the Obesity Society annual meeting in San Diego showing that calorie labeling on the menu did not reduce calorie consumption in fast-food restaurants.
The first publication revealed that sodium is not related to the rise in hypertension, which was always the main reason that the IOM wants salt consumption reduced, while the second report revealed that calorie labeling had little effect on consumer choice.
Talk about being a day late and a dollar short!
Despite all the claims of success made by the salt reduction advocates around the world, the actual results of their efforts on the marketplace don't come close to matching their rhetoric.
The world's largest soup company and the one that has been most aggressive in claiming major salt reductions for their line of soups has also experienced a dramatic decline in their soup sales since their salt reduction program began.
Despite the claims of reduced salt consumption by the now defunct Food Standards Agency, the sales of retail salt in the UK (including cooking, table and sea salt) have shot up by anywhere from 17.5 - 26.5% in the last year, depending upon which market watch reports you subscribe to . This seems to confirm what we have always believed - remove the salt from processed foods and consumers will simply replace it with table salt.
The latest news appears to be even more ominous for the anti-salt advocates. Yesterday's edition of the Irish Times contains an article describing the growing resistance to Ireland's copycat salt reduction program .
Paul Cullen, the consumer affairs correspondent for the Irish Times reports that a number of companies are starting to pull out of the Irish Food Safety Authority's registry of companies willing to join in salt reduction efforts. Even more significant, a far greater number than ever before have declined to even join the effort. Perhaps they, too, have been monitoring what has actually been going on in the marketplace.
The very public salt reduction circus continues to play out in the media, but when considering this ongoing shambles, it is far more important to be cognizant of real market developments rather than paying attention to the hype.
This week may go down as one of the bleakest in nutritional history. By total chance, two seemingly unrelated fragments of research coalesced to reveal the potential for unwarranted dietary recommendations, such as those promulgated by the Dietary Guidelines, to wreak havoc upon society.
In large headlines, London’s Daily Mail reported that researchers from Maastricht University in Holland have discovered that reduced salt diets during pregnancy lead to a disproportionate number of female births! Their conclusions followed a five-year study involving 172 Western European women aged from 23 to 42 who had all previously given birth to boys, but this time around they wanted girls.
Researchers instructed the women to cut out salt and eat lots of dairy products. Because diets with low levels of salt are not very palatable, many of the women dropped out of the survey, but 21 women stuck it out to the end. And, of the 21, 16 gave birth to daughters – indicating an astonishing success rate of almost 80 per cent!
Although this was the first time that humans have allowed themselves to be guinea pigs for such experiments, it will certainly not be the last. If the latest iteration of the Dietary Guidelines for American, expected to be released shortly, will ever be implemented it promises to be the largest clinical trial on record, using the entire population of the United States – 308 million people - as the test subjects. The new Dietary Guidelines recommend that Americans consume less than 4 grams of salt per day on average, a level lower than ever experienced in recorded human history and considerably less than that of any other modern society in the world!
If the researchers at Maastricht University are correct, this Dietary Guidelines recommendation may spell the doom of society as we know it.
No, I am not referring to our evolution into a female-dominated society similar to that living in the area north of the Black Sea, described by the famous Greek historian, Herodotus, in the fifth century BC. We all know that the all–female society of fierce warriors he called Amazons is little more than a myth.
What I am referring to is the second fragment of apocalyptic research recently announced by economists Gordon Dahl from the University of Rochester and Enrico Moretti from UCLA . They analyzed three million U.S. birth and marriage records, and found that married couples with one daughter are almost 5 percent more likely to split up, versus those with one son. And the effect grew more pronounced with more offspring. Parents of three girls are about 10 percent more likely to divorce than those with three boys. The numbers were even worse in other countries.
Mounting evidence in social science journals demonstrates that the divorce rate is eroding society as we know it and will have a devastating effect upon future generations (small as they eventually may be).
Were the Dietary Guidelines to be followed, the reduced salt diets recommended would lead to a veritable torrent of fairer sex births shadowed by an epidemic of divorce, the likes of which have not been seen since the 1857 British Matrimonial Causes Act.
The breakdown of society is another in the long list of unintended consequences resulting from the unwise and totally unwarranted recommendations resulting from the latest iteration of the Dietary Guidelines.
For years, I have gone on record highlighting the benefits of the “Mediterranean” diet . This was no second or third party pitch I was making. Having lived in Italy for almost 20 years, I have ample ‘first-hand’ experience of the diet and its many health benefits. At the same time, it was clear to me that this healthful diet was being misrepresented to fit the agendas of certain individuals and organizations in the health and consumer segments.
There is no doubt that everyone loves a winner and the hands-down favorite diet all around the world promoting good health is the Mediterranean diet, so naturally all the diet talking heads tried to pitch it in their favor. Lots of salads, vegetables and fruits, plenty of grains (bread and pasta), good cheeses, a lot of fish and a small amount of meat – that’s how all the Mediterranean diet promoters characterized it. And there is no doubt, the cardiovascular figures of Mediterranean residents are amongst the best in the world.
But all the pretenders in the medical institutions and the consumer group sector neglected to mention one very important aspect of the Mediterranean diet – it’s very high salt content. That can only mean one of two things. Either, they had no idea of what the diet actually was but pretended they did, or they knew it was a very high salt diet but purposely lied about it because it did not fit their agenda. After all, the urban myth was that high salt diets contributed to cardiovascular disease and if the Mediterranean diet was revealed to be high in salt, it would prove to be very embarrassing to their salt reduction agenda. Either way, it makes me wonder how consumers can still have any faith in the medical establishment when it comes to nutritional advice.
Aside from my personal experience of the food in Italy, there was a highly regarded publication by C. Leclercq and A. Ferro-Luzzi describing the high salt content of the Italian diet (1). This 20 year old paper was just reconfirmed by a recent study of A. Venezia et al, published in the May edition of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition . And still, the Southern Italians continue to enjoy good cardiovascular health.
And salt is not a bystander to this good health paradigm. A key determinant of good health is the consumption of a sufficient amount of salads and vegetables. These foods contain the bulk of the essential water-soluble micro-nutrients we consume. You don’t get as many water soluble nutrients from any other source in the diet. And it is salt that makes salads and vegetables so tasty. Salt is what encourages a good, well-balanced diet. That is why we evolved to like salt as much as we do – because it keeps us healthy.
The doom and gloom prophets, the food police and the nutrition con artists are all preaching that our diet is killing us. Fortunately, most of us are blissfully unaware of this so we continue to enjoy life and thrive better than at any time in the entire history of mankind – just check out the health statistics on the CDC website .
(1) C. Leclercq and A. Ferro-Luzzi, “Total and domestic consumption of salt and their determinants in three regions of Italy,” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Mar, 45(3), 151-9, (1991).
(2) A Venezia, G Barba, O Russo, C Capasso, V De Luca, E Farinaro, F. Cappuccio, and P Strazzullo, “Dietary sodium intake in a sample of adult male population in southern Italy: results of the Olivetti Heart Study,” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 64, 518-524 (May 2010).
In a previous blog "Abolish FSA - Without Delay !" I mentioned that the new UK government was thinking of making major changes to the Food Standards Agency (FSA). Well, today, the UK government has ended speculation about the future of the Food Standards Agency (FSA), announcing that the body will retain its food safety remit but be stripped of responsibility for nutrition policy and labeling.
Under the plans, the Department of Health (DoH) will become responsible for nutrition policy while the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will oversee labeling and food composition policies.
The FSA was known to advance an activist agenda totally driven by misinformation rather than concrete evidence. Their role in nutrition policy will not be missed.
On June 15, 2010, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that public comments would be accepted on the Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 (Advisory Report). Individuals and organizations were encouraged to provide written comments and oral testimony could also be provided at a public meeting to be held in Washington, DC, on July 8, 2010 .
I submitted the Salt Institute’s comments (pdf 91.39 kB) that were accepted by the USDA for oral testimony. The oral testimony was well received and was cited in several articles as well as releases issued by other groups .
Aldosterone plays a major role in the maintenance of electrolytes and fluid balance and subsequent blood pressure control. Epidemiological studies that explore the connection between hypertension and cancer have found a higher rate of cancer-related mortality in hypertensive patients that have an elevated level of aldosterone. Recent research indicates that this may be the result of aldosterone-mediated damage to chromosomes and DNA in kidney cells.
For most people, the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system is activated when our salt consumption drops below current levels. Although cardiovascular issues were always considered to be a possible unintended consequence of salt reduction, this study is one of the preliminary indications that an increase in cancer-related mortality may be a consequence as well. The Salt Institute will maintain a watching brief on the clinical research carried out in this area.