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Silly Sid the slug

Back to 'Real Salt'
I’ve always been a one for sprinkling a little salt on my food. It has almost become a habit. Braving the tutting of health-conscious friends and at the risk of insulting the chef, I often reach for the salt even before I’ve tasted the food before me. Contrary to the dire warnings of the UK Government’s anti-salt Sid the Slug campaign, my blood pressure remains resolutely healthy. Imagine, then, my delight when I learnt from the Sunday Telegraph’s Dr James le Fanu (3.10.04) that, contrary to generally accepted medical ‘truth’, the body has dozens of ways of keeping both its salt and blood pressure levels exactly where they should be, and that it would take a sustained and concerted effort on my part to affect these through my salt intake.

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According to James, the body survives literally millisecond by millisecond by a process called 'homeostasis': literally, staying the same. The chemical and liquid levels of thousands of body states are constantly monitored and adjusted. Blood pressure is one of the body's most vital factors. At the last count, scientists had identified 40 ways in which the body tries at all costs to ensure that, defying gravity, the right pressure of blood reaches the brain. Adjustments are made to achieve this every time we change position. None of these adjustments has anything to do with salt.

The body's salt level is almost as important, critical as it is for so many body processes. Thanks to the kidneys, any excess salt in the body is immediately excreted in the urine. Only massive, sustained salt intake, or kidney disease, would overwhelm this work.

Healthy living
For James, the most powerful challenge to homeostasis is our overall lifestyle. If we are unfit and lacking in muscle, there are fewer blood vessels for the blood to run through, so its pressure will rise accordingly. Similarly, if there is too much saturated fat in our diet, or we smoke, and fatty plaque builds up on our blood vessels’ walls, giving the blood less space to run through, our blood pressure may increase.

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References

(11510) Nick Anderson. Green Health Watch Magazine