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Too Much Salt Causes Inflammation – Studies

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Salt-induced inflammation has been found to be a factor in worsening hypertension-related diseases , congestive heart failure and asthma. HENRY TYOHEMBA writes on the risk of consuming excess salt.

High-salt diet is associated with higher levels of inflammation, which could be life threatening.

One problem with excessive salt intake is that it can raise the risk for autoimmune disease by increasing Th17-related inflammation. Th17 cells play a critical role in the induction of the tissue inflammation and tissue destruction that are hallmarks of many immune-inflammatory diseases.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), high blood pressure is one of the most significant independent predictors of chronic disease. Health professionals worldwide therefore,  recommend restricting your sodium intake because it is believed to increase blood pressure, which is one of the strongest risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

Salt-induced inflammation has also been found to be a factor in worsening hypertension-related tissue damage, congestive heart failure, and asthma.

It has been reported that excess salt can raise Aldosterone, which is implicated in many chronic diseases and can contribute to inflammation (R, R2).

A 2013 Cochrane review found that in people with high blood pressure, reducing salt lowers blood pressure by 5.4 points systolic and 2.8 points diastolic. Individuals with normal blood pressure show a reduction of 2.4 and 1.0.

It’s also important to note that restricting salt has no direct effect on risk of death or cardiovascular disease, even in people diagnosed with high blood pressure.

Studies have actually found that salt consumption does not raise your risk of heart disease or death. So there is no reason to restrict salt due to concerns over cardiovascular health or longevity. It may just be wise to restrict it if your blood pressure tends to be high, and you want to keep it within normal range.

New research published recently in the journal Nature Immunology shows that a high intake of salt may cause inflammation in multiple sclerosis.

The researchers also found out that vitamin D insufficiency, smoking, obesity, and a high dietary intake of salt all correlate with a higher risk of MS. Some studies have zoomed in on the effect of a high salt intake on a model of MS and found that it exacerbates brain inflammation, while others have found that it boosts the number of pro-inflammatory cells.

However, the precise molecular mechanism behind this effect that salt has on MS was not known. New research finds a molecular pathway that explains how a high-salt environment might potentially trigger the autoimmune disorder.

According to Tomokazu Sumida, an associate research scientist in the Hafler laboratory at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven,  analyzed regulatory T cells (Trigs) taken from people with MS. The main role of these cells is to control the immune response by regulating or suppressing other immune cells.

Trigs also “control the immune response to self and foreign particles (antigens) and help prevent autoimmune disease.”

In these cells, Sumida and team found an imbalance between a type of pro-inflammatory cytokine called IFN-gamma and a type of anti-inflammatory cytokine called interleukin 10 (IL-10).

The study also revealed that beta-catenin works together with a protein receptor called PTGER2 to trigger inflammation induced by a high salt intake. The authors conclude:

“Our findings suggest that the beta-catenin-PTGER2 axis serves as a bridge between environmental factors and autoimmune disease by modulating Trig function and this axis may be involved in the pathogenesis of autoimmune disease.”

“Since this imbalance is enhanced under high salt environment, the people at risk of developing MS should consider lowering high salt intake.”



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