Daily sodium intake: How much salt is ‘too much’?

What is the proper daily sodium intake for adults? We all know too much salt isn’t healthy for you. We have been told over and over, it increases our blood pressure. But, is that all it does?

Researchers suspect salt may also activate what’s called ‘T helper 17’ cells, which can activate an immune response [ 1 nih.gov]. This means the body will attack itself, causing inflammation.

The body’s immune system is supposed to protect our bodies from harmful bacteria and dangerous viruses. Autoimmune disease is a trigger which causes damage to tissues and body cells by attacking them as if they were a foreign intruder.

This inflammatory response is painful where joints may swell and burn painfully for days, weeks, even months and longer, still. Salt may power autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, lupus, psoriasis, type I diabetes, Sjögren’s syndrome, asthma, and as with me, ‘rheumatoid arthritis’.

Although, I never went to a doctor for diagnosis, I believe I have suffered greatly from non specific arthritis and gout in the past. Through each episode, I also experienced cold chills, felt tired, sickly and lethargic.

Although, the cause of autoimmune diseases are not fully understood by doctors, it has been proven dietary and lifestyle changes can be more successful than medication in managing symptoms.

For me, this means, that if I go back to eating the way I used to (pizza, beer, French fries, hamburgers, dairy, etc.,) my symptoms will certainly return once again and I will be suffering great pain, discomfort and grief.

‘Americans should reduce their sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg or 1,500 mg per day depending on age and other individual characteristics’ [2 dietary guidelines 2010 cnpp.usda.gov]. (2,300 mg = approx. 1 teaspoon and 1500 mg = about 3/4 of a teaspoon.)

The ‘western diet’ so full of salt and fat, is suspect causing autoimmune response, even exacerbating the disease [3 ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]. For example, when kidneys are overwhelmed by high salt intake, it starves them of oxygen triggering inflammation, not to mention the obvious… excessive urine response.

This is why it’s so important when eating processed and refined food that we read labels closely verifying what the salt content is. This goes for restaurants and fast food take outs in particular, which can have much higher salt content than foods prepared at home.

When eating plant-based whole food, the only thing you have to worry about is controlling how many shakes of salt you put onto your food.

‘Although salt seems to induce cardiovascular diseases through elevation of blood pressure, it has also been indicated that salt can induce cardiovascular diseases independently from blood pressure elevation’ [4 ncbi.nlm.nih.gov].


1 URL nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/shaking-out-clues-autoimmune-disease
Website Title National Institutes of Health
Article Title Shaking Out Clues to Autoimmune Disease
Date Published March 21, 2016
Date Accessed February 24, 2018

2 URL cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/dietary_guidelines_for_americans/PolicyDoc.pdf

3 URL ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24338487
Website Title Current allergy and asthma reports.
Publication Month January
Publication Year 2014
Article Title Role of “Western diet” in inflammatory autoimmune diseases.
Date Accessed February 05, 2018

4 URL ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4109042/
Website Title International Cardiovascular Research Journal
Publication Month September
Publication Year 2014
Date Accessed February 05, 2018

Note- always consult your doctor before you change your diet.

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