There are many types of calendars in the world. The Julian calendar, the Gregorian calendar, the Lunar calendar and the Chinese calendar, etc. Some follow the sun and some follow the moon. More recently, there is the opportunist's calendar. This is the calendar where opportunists of every type pick a day to promote their own self-serving cause. The latest example (http://bit.ly/Sr4kEy) is the "More Herbs, Less Salt Day" set for August 29th - the same day that the Soviets exploded their first atomic bomb, Pizarro destroyed the Inca civilization and executed their last Emperor and the day that hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf coast and decimated New Orleans. Interesting day to choose!
The "More Herbs, Less Salt Day" is supposed to encourage people to reduce their salt and replace it with herbs . They seem to have ignored the fact that more peer-reviewed medical publications caution against population-wide salt reduction than support it. Furthermore, salt has never been shown to cause harm in the thousands of years we have been using it.
However, the case is not quite the same for herbs and spices. Herbs and spices have been implicated in several negative health conditions including cancer. For example chilli powder, which is laced with the deadly chemical, Sudan IV, (http://tinyurl.com/dxdexdc ); ginger, which can harbor carcinogenic aflatoxins (http://tinyurl.com/d2fd2pr ); basil, which contains estragole, a known carcinogen and teratogen (http://tinyurl.com/28mclj ); and black pepper, which contains N-nitrosopiperadine, a strong carcinogen (http://tinyurl.com/ccqsp5l ).
In other words, they are recommending four known carcinogens to replace salt!
Interesting advice for an interesting day.
Once again, a respected medical journal has published a paper demonstrating that low salt diets cause more sickness and death than regular salt consumption. The most recent publication in the British medical journal, Heart, by Drs. DiNicolantonio, Di Pasquale, Taylor and Hackam was published online today (August 21, 2012). The details can be seen at http://heart.bmj.com/content/early/2012/08/21/heartjnl-2012-302337.abstract?papetoc . The medical researchers, from USA, Italy, UK and Canada, carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials with heart failure patients carried out up until April 2012. They concluded that low sodium diets significantly increases morbidity and mortality in patients with heart failure compared normal sodium diets.
This review follows on a recent Cochrane meta-analysis which demonstrated that sodium restriction did not reduce all-cause mortality or cardiovascular events.
Yet, North American guidelines for the management of heart failure consistently advise dietary sodium restriction for patients. The Guidelines for treatment of Heart Failure patients is hopelessly out of date. The letter I wrote to the American Heart Association two years ago asking them to reconsider their guidelines in light of new, peer-reviewed evidence, went completely unanswered. They, together with all our other public health institutions are in total denial of the evidence, and this latest publication confirms this once again. They have committed themselves so deeply to salt- reduction ideology, that no amount of new evidence will shake them from their pig-headed position. As a result, more people will die.
During the past three years there has been a great many medical publications cautioning against salt reduction in food. Peer-reviewed medical publications the world over have stated that salt reduction will result in higher rates of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality for Type I and Type II Diabetes patients. They have repeatedly shown that salt reduction down to the levels to the levels recommended in our dietary guidelines will result in greater all-cause cardiovascular mortality, losses in cognition, increase in unsteadiness and falls in the elderly and a host of other malignant conditions.
It is time our public institutions come clean and do what they are paid to do. They are in our employ to make recommendations based on the preponderance of scientific evidence – not to stake out an intractable position based on dogma and never veer from it, regardless of the consequence to consumers. They are not doing their jobs – even to the point of reading the published research. The position of our public health institutions was aptly described by Bill Watersson, author of the cartoon, Calvin and Hobbs, “It's not denial. I'm just selective about the reality I accept.”
The most recent review on blood pressure reduction by the world-renowned Cochrane Collaboration reveals that chocolate has a greater impact on reducing blood pressure than all the combined effects of salt reduction. Although the majority of Cochrane review articles on the subject have never supported population-wide salt reduction, a 2008 review (1) carried out by two of the world's most outspoken anti-salt advocates, stated that cutting the salt intake of normal people by half would result in a 2 millimeter drop in systolic blood pressure and a 1 mm drop in diastolic blood pressure. That review continues to be cited by salt-reduction activists.
Just today, however, the Cochrane Collaboration published a review (2) on the impact of chocolate on blood pressure and the results indicated a reduction of 2.8 mm in systolic blood pressure and a 2.2 mm drop in diastolic blood pressure demonstrating that chocolate is considerably more effective in reducing blood pressure than reducing salt intakes.
So if you are looking to reduce your blood pressure by a millimeter or so, you can forget about those tasteless, low salt cheeses, soups and snacks and try a bit of chocolate. You’ll have your cake – and eat it too!!
1) He FJ, MacGregor GA. Effect of longer-term modest salt reduction on blood pressure. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2004, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD004937. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004937
2) Ried K, Sullivan TR, Fakler P, Frank OR, Stocks NP. Effect of cocoa on blood pressure. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 8. Art. No.: CD008893. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008893.pub2.
The last blog I posted, Rule Britannia, http://www.saltinstitute.org/News-events-media/Salt-Sensibility/Health/Rule-Brittania was taken directly from a comment I made to a HealthCanal story (which was linked in the blog). When I checked the HealthCanal story a few days later, my comment had not been published, so I sent it in once more. Two days later, my comment still did not appear, however, multiple reactions from WASH (World Action on Salt and Health) and CASH (Consensus Action on Salt and Health) were published.
This serves as an excellent example of the cozy relationship between publishers and their ideological beliefs. It is an example of ‘the ends justifying the means.’ You can lie, cheat, obfuscate, hide evidence and stifle opinion as long as you believe that the cause you serve overrides all ethics. It is the sort of thing that leads to the great medical blunders we have seen, such as hormone replacement therapy. It is also a common characteristic of those who are possessed by both their cause and their sense of self-importance and is quite typical of those currently promoting the salt-reduction agenda.
It the end, just as in the beginning, the only thing that matters is the preponderance of scientific evidence. And that, they will never conceal permanently.
Once again, the British are off to show the rest of the world how things should be done. http://www.healthcanal.com/public-health-safety/31407-Researchers-win-funding-reduce-salt-intake-for-children-and-their-families-China.html What a wonderful development! Queen Mary’s MacGregor and He are off on a Wolfson-funded expedition to spread the gospel to China. Armed with a heavy dose of paternalistic zeal, they want little more than to teach the natives how life should be lived.
And, of course, we have centuries of history to back them up. Not satisfied with managing their own little isle, the indomitable Brits forcibly enlightened much of world for centuries. Their greatest triumph was India, where their particular manner of influence dominated one of the largest populations in the world. The gratitude of the nation was keenly demonstrated with the humble demise of the Raj.
Unable to learn from history, these tireless anti-salt zealots have now set their sights on even bigger game. It is one of life’s ironies that their broad vision of proselytization is attended by such a myoptic view of the actual medical evidence on salt and health.
Having botched their efforts in the cloudy and chaotic food culture of the UK – this indefatigable duo, pockets stuffed with herbs and tattered stethoscopes held high, will now attempt to demonstrate how life ought to be lived in the largest and one of the oldest cultures in the world.