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Worse: Sugar or Salt?
Old 09-16-2014, 05:54 PM   #1
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Worse: Sugar or Salt?

Short article that suggests that salt may not be as bad as sugar.
Salt Is Not the Enemy. Guess What Actually Ruins Your Health Instead? | Alternet

Quote:
Some experts are now suggesting that cutting back on salt is actually bad for your health. They propose that your body needs sodium, and if it is deprived, the kidney secretes an enzyme called renin that can lead to hypertension. Some studies have found that low sodium levels may actually boost the chance of heart failure. In 2011, Scientific American went full-throttle with an article defending salt and suggesting that hypersensitivity to salt among some elderly individuals and African Americans has unduly cast a shadow on something that is no problem for most of us.
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Old 09-16-2014, 06:07 PM   #2
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Salt has never been a problem for me. I don't add salt to my food (well, except on fresh tomatoes!) and we make a lot of things from scratch, so we don't get as much from processed foods, but I snack freely on pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, canned nuts, etc. that do have salt and my BP is low enough that I they sometimes have to re-take it when I donate blood because the first reading was so low.

I watch sugar but mostly from a calorie intake standpoint. Fasting glucose level was 102 in 2012, 107 last year and 93 this year. Heck, maybe glucose level was another thing that got better after I retired this year!
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Old 09-16-2014, 06:35 PM   #3
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Since you need both sugar and salt to maintain good health, I don't know which is worse.
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Old 09-16-2014, 06:43 PM   #4
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I'm not a medical professional, although I have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express recently.

IMO, sugar is much more insidious and dangerous than salt, and both are almost impossible to avoid unless one cooks from scratch. And even then, who knows.

One week there's a study stating that eggs will put you 6 feet under 20 years before your time, the next week there's another study confirming that eggs are just fine and have beneficial effects.

Same for whole milk. And butter (vs margarine).

In the interest of disclosure, I am a slave to salty snacks of any kind and can walk by cookies, cake, and other sugar-based goodies without a second look.

Life is too short. All things in moderation, indulge yourself once in a while. No telling when an 18-wheeler will blow a red light and t-bone your car.
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Old 09-16-2014, 07:03 PM   #5
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For those of us with sodium-sensitive hypertension or prehypertension, salt and other sodium ion sources are worse, as long as the sugar intake is moderate. It's not really an either/or proposition, of course.

Sugar and other common dietary sources of excess carbohydrates can be as bad for a prediabetic person, or someone with a family history of diabetes. Diets high in salt, like diets high in sugar, are likely to have a significant portion of daily food consumption from highly processed foods, which tend to have a somewhat different composition than the diet our ancestors have enjoyed for hundreds of generations.

We do need salt or other sodium ion sources in our diet. Somewhere around 500-700 mg daily sodium intake is needed. Curiously, that happens to be about what a Neolithic diet that our ancestors were on for hundreds of generations would supply.

The recommended upper limit for intake of sodium for older persons, African-Americans, and those with high blood pressure is two to three times the Neolithic diet quantity, or about 1,500 mg daily. For the general population, the recommended upper limit is around four times the Neolithic diet quantity at 2,300 mg daily.

The quantity of sodium found in processed foods has risen since the 1970s, and the daily intake of processed foods has also risen, to bring the average American (age 2 and older) daily sodium intake to 3,436 mg daily, roughly six times the Neolithic diet level.

It's not just salt that contributes sodium, either. A scone doesn't have very much salt, but the baking powder content, which includes sodium bicarbonate, is enough to put at nice bakery scone at 700 mg sodium.
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Baking soda (also called sodium bicarbonate)
  • Baking powder
  • Disodium phosphate
  • Sodium alginate
  • Sodium citrate
  • Sodium nitrite

Most sodium intake in the American diet does NOT come from table salt. It's in various processed foods. One bagel may contain 400 mg. A bowl of healthy instant oatmeal? 225 mg. At least the low-fat yogurt was only 50 mg.

That lunchtime sandwich? Two slices of commercial bakery bread add 360 mg. Mustard? One teaspoon of yellow mustard is 70 mg, or if you prefer dejon, 160 mg. That slice of cheese? One ounce at 180 mg. The tomato and lettuce are free. The dill pickle is 385 mg.

A single serving of good ravioli (5 pieces) might be 500 mg. Oh, and another 350 in the half-cup of marinara (red) sauce. (Tell the truth. Would you really limit dinner to 5 pieces of ravioli and a half cup of sauce?) A tablespoon of parmesan cheese on top? Add 75 mg. Garlic bread? Maybe a nice slice, just to get all the sauce, eh? 250 mg.

That's 2845 mg of sodium, without a single snack or dessert, or using the salt shaker. Now, if you had properly salted the pasta water...


CDC Data & Statistics | Feature: Americans Consume Too Much Sodium (Salt)

For me, personally, cutting the sodium intake below 1,500 mg/day has dropped my BP from 130/90 to 105/75 (average evening reading, past 7 days). There have been no other changes. Same exercise routine as I've kept the past 7 years, same weight for two years. I did get a haircut...
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Old 09-16-2014, 07:24 PM   #6
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While neither in excess is good for you, I'd agree sugar is probably worse for most people. But personally, I find myself craving salt much more than sugar. I also find it hard to agree that cutting back on salt is actually bad for your health. I don't think there are many people walking around today with a sodium deficiency in their diet.
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Old 09-16-2014, 07:37 PM   #7
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They're both appetite stimulants which many of us don't need.

The low salt intake/higher mortality study was done for people with advanced heart disease and doesn't really apply to healthy people. The latest study in the news says that weight has more effect on blood pressure than salt intake, but see my first point above. Potato chips, mmmmm!
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Old 09-16-2014, 08:45 PM   #8
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Both have their uses in a healthy diet, but excess sugar is far worse than excess salt, IMO. You can deal with excess salt to some degree by bumping up your water intake. Unless you're all of a sudden going to become and endurance athlete, it's tough to deal with excess sugar, and that causes massive metabolic changes that lead to insulin-dependent diabetes, and a whole host of other weight/excess adipose tissue/chronic inflammation issues.
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Old 09-17-2014, 06:10 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbee View Post
Since you need both sugar and salt to maintain good health, I don't know which is worse.
You need salt, although excess can be a problem for some. But you don't need any sugar in your diet to maintain health. The brain requires a tiny bit of glucose to function but it doesn't need sugar to get it. Carbs are instantly converted to glucose when digested and even in the absence of any external source of carbs/glucose you can make enough of your own (glucogenesis) from protein in a pinch. Lots of discussion about high performance athletes, former diabetics, etc remaining in ketogenesis (metabolizing ketones in the absence of glucose on near zero carb diets) for years with no deterioration.

I like my sugar and can tolerate a modest amount but many (probably most) people inexorably get into more and more trouble with each passing year because of excess sugar in our diets.
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Old 09-17-2014, 06:21 AM   #10
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Everything in moderation. I can't take any food which is too salty of sweet - just don't like it. I can drink my coffee black but I like wine - therein lies my sugar excess.


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Old 09-17-2014, 06:53 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by M Paquette View Post
It's not just salt that contributes sodium, either. A scone doesn't have very much salt, but the baking powder content, which includes sodium bicarbonate, is enough to put at nice bakery scone at 700 mg sodium.
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Baking soda (also called sodium bicarbonate)
  • Baking powder
  • Disodium phosphate
  • Sodium alginate
  • Sodium citrate
  • Sodium nitrite
That's pretty scary. I'm glad that right now I don't have to pay too much attention to the labels because one of my favorite quick meals is canned soup (usually chicken noodle) with a lot of stir-fried vegetables thrown in. If sodium were a concern, canned soup would be one of the first things I'd have to cut out.

I wish the manufacturers would stop salting everything but it's a preservative, too, so I guess that's one reason they continue to dump it into everything. I've made bread and the actual amount of salt required for a large loaf is something like a teaspoon, and I think that could even be left out. And then there's the salt in restaurant meals, particularly the franchises.
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Old 09-17-2014, 07:08 AM   #12
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everything in moderation is the key.
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Old 09-17-2014, 07:54 AM   #13
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I was dissolving a couple tablespoons of baking soda in water every day, and drinking it to combat stomach acid. Went for a blood pressure test and it was 155 / 98 !! Much higher than usual. Finally figured out it was the baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). Stopped taking it and BP came back down to 125 / 85.
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Old 09-17-2014, 08:00 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by donheff View Post
You need salt, although excess can be a problem for some. But you don't need any sugar in your diet to maintain health. The brain requires a tiny bit of glucose to function but it doesn't need sugar to get it. Carbs are instantly converted to glucose when digested and even in the absence of any external source of carbs/glucose you can make enough of your own (glucogenesis) from protein in a pinch. Lots of discussion about high performance athletes, former diabetics, etc remaining in ketogenesis (metabolizing ketones in the absence of glucose on near zero carb diets) for years with no deterioration.

I like my sugar and can tolerate a modest amount but many (probably most) people inexorably get into more and more trouble with each passing year because of excess sugar in our diets.
I guess I should have included a smiley. I think the article was poorly written.
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Old 09-17-2014, 08:10 AM   #15
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Sugar is a poison. It's increase in consumption across the 20th century - dramatically accelerated with the widespread adoption of high-fructose corn syrup - fairly tracks the rise in a whole host of health issues, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Recent research is suggestive that it may even be linked to Alzheimer's.

I'm convinced that future generations will look back in horror and astonishment that we happily embraced such an extraordinarily unhealthy diet.

Conversely, fats - harshly villified for a couple of generations now - will probably be determined to be far less dangerous than we today perceive them to be. I'd say salt will probably fall in that not-nearly-as-bad-as-we-once-thought camp.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/ma...anted=all&_r=0
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Old 09-17-2014, 08:22 AM   #16
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Sugar is a poison. Its increase in consumption across the 20th century - dramatically accelerated with the widespread adoption of high-fructose corn syrup - fairly tracks the rise in a whole host of health issues, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Recent research is suggestive that it may even be linked to Alzheimer's.
Yeah, that stuff is evil. We avoid a lot of it by making things from scratch but heck, they even put it in ketchup and (some) BBQ sauces.

I think it's interesting that some labels now proudly proclaim "No high-fructose corn syrup". I bet the corn industry hates that.
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Old 09-17-2014, 08:59 AM   #17
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l like them both! In moderation, of course.
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Old 09-17-2014, 09:16 AM   #18
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Easy to prove. Take a mouthful of sugar, and swallow. Then repeat with a mouthful of salt. Which was easier? The easier substance is the worse, since the other is self limiting.
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Old 09-17-2014, 09:17 AM   #19
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Both. In moderation of course. Excesses are usually not advisable...nothing really new here despite the "groundbreaking" articles. My Mom knew 90 years ago...
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Old 09-17-2014, 10:46 AM   #20
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Both were fairly rare and valuable before modern times in most locals.

So it makes sense to me that we (humans) crave both of them. It also makes sense that we don't handle either in excess particularly well.
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