Assault upon salt

Gerald W. Deas M.D., MPH | 11/14/2019, 1:22 p.m.
Salt should be charged with assault and battery for what it is doing to our bodies.
Salt

Salt should be charged with assault and battery for what it is doing to our bodies. I rest my case!

After working a full day in the fitting room of a local department store, Mrs. C complained of swelling in her ankles and weakness in her legs. She had a known history of mild hypertension and had been taking a water pill for the past two years without taking a potassium supplement. She related that she hated taking pills. Her blood pressure still remained slightly elevated, although she had eliminated table salt from her diet.

I explained to Mrs. C that if she were taking water pills on a regular basis, that the weakness in her legs was probably the result of low serum potassium because this is a side effect of many diuretics. In fact, water pills also deplete the body of calcium, magnesium and other water-soluble vitamins, and can also cause muscle weakness.

I advised Mrs. C to start taking her potassium and other mineral and vitamin supplements to regain the strength in her legs. I further suggested that table salt (sodium chloride) is only one form of the mineral known as sodium, which causes the retention of water in body tissues. There are forms of hidden sodium that can cause a retention of fluid. To best illustrate this last point, I gave her a copy of my poem to take home as a constant reminder:

“SODIUM CONFESSES”

Some folks call me sodium

My friends, they call me salt.

The difference in my names is

Really no one’s fault.

I’m around when you can’t even taste me.

I have fooled my lovers for years.

A pinch of me can be hidden

Without causing any alarms or fears.

I come disguised in many colors,

In vegetables, liquids and foods.

When served at dinners and parties,

I can increase the festive mood.

As monosodium glutamate (MSG),

I make dull foods come alive.

When I’m needed as sodium bicarbonate (baking soda),

I can make your hot bread rise.

And when you reach for a bottle of pop,

Don’t think I’m not around.

I masquerade as sodium benzoate,

As you drink those flavors down.

After you have entertained me,

You may never be the same.

I may cause your blood pressure to rise

Sometimes without dizziness or pain.

So to all of you who love me,

I am flattered without a doubt.

But I’d advise you to use a friend of mine,

Who has left the sodium out!

As a final suggestion, I told Mrs. C to read all labels on cans and packaged products to identify the hidden sodium. It was reported recently that there is a direct relation between the amount of sodium that is ingested and high blood pressure. If you have hypertension, it is important to realize that a reduction in sodium intake will enable you to reduce the amount of medication that you may be taking for this condition. Watch out for that hidden sodium!