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Some European countries,
where water fluoridation is not practiced, alsoadd fluoride to their salt. In France
for example, 35 percent of table saltsold contains either sodium fluoride or potassium
fluoride, and use of fluoridated salt is widespread in South America.
Besides these basic differences in nutritional content, the processing—
which involve drying the salt above 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit—also radically
alters the chemical structure of the salt. So, while you definitely need salt
for optimal health, not just any salt will do. What your body needs is
natural, unprocessed salt, without added chemicals.
Does Salt Really Cause Heart Disease?
Overindulgence in the typically used commercially processed table salt
can lead to fluid retention, high blood pressure, swelling of your limbs, and
shortness of breath. In the long term, it is thought to contribute to high
blood pressure, kidney and heart disease, heart attacks, and heart failure.
However, compelling evidence suggests that while processed salt can
indeed cause fluid retention and related health problems, numerous studies
have, overall, refuted the salt-heart disease connection.
For example, a 2011 meta-analysis of seven studies
involving more than6,000 people found NO strong evidence that cutting
salt intake reduces therisk for heart attacks, strokes or death. In fact, salt
restriction actually increased the risk of death in those with heart failure.
Similarly, research published in the Journal of the American Medical
Association that same year revealed that the less sodium excreted in your
urine (a marker of salt consumption), the greater the risk of dying from
heart disease. This study followed 3,681 middle-aged healthy Europeans for
eight years. The participants were divided into three groups: low salt,
moderate salt, and high salt consumption. Researchers tracked mortality rates
for the three groups, with the following results:
Low-salt group: 50 people died
Moderate salt group: 24 people died
High-salt group: 10 people died
The risk for heart disease
was 56 percent higher for the low-salt groupthan for the group who ate the
most salt! Some studies have shown a modestbenefit to salt restriction
among some people with high blood pressure, butthe evidence does not
extend to the rest of the population. So what’s reallygoing on? Well, there
are at least three factors that need to be taken into consideration.
First, an ingredient that contributes to high blood pressure and
heart disease across the board is fructose, and since so much of salt intake
comes from processed foods, it’s easy to see how the lines of causation may
get blurred. Virtually all processed foods are high not just in sodium, but
also fructose, particularly in processed foods sold in the US.
Another factor is that there’s a huge difference between natural salt
and the processed salt added to processed foods and salt shakers in most
homes and restaurants. The former is essential for good health, whereas the
latter is best avoided altogether.
A third factor that can have a significant impact on whether salt
will harm or aid your health is the ratio between the salt and potassium in
That said, it’s clear that many are consuming far too much processed
table salt and not enough natural salt. This begins early. According to the
featured article, nearly 75 percent of processed meals and snacks for
toddlers contain 210 mg of sodium per serving or more. Some toddler fare
contains as much as 630 mg per serving, which equates to 40 percent of the
daily limit recommended by the American Heart Association for adults.
Lead researcher Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, MPH told MedPageToday:
"'These findings highlight both the tremendous disease burdens caused
by sodium but also the incredible opportunities for prevention.' ...He urged
global public health efforts rather than relying on individuals to control
intake of so pervasive an element. 'Our results should inspire both food
industry and policymakers to take rapid and decisive actions to reduce sodium
in the food supply... If voluntary agreements are not enough, taxation or
restrictions on amounts of sodium should be implemented.'"
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