‘Settled science’ on salt may be completely wrong, says New York Times

Somebody tell Michael Bloomberg that his obsession over limiting salt consumption may be doing more harm than good.  Actually, he probably just read about it at his breakfast table in the New York Times (while eating a low-sodium breakfast, no doubt).  Gina Kolata writes in the Times:

The salt equation taught to doctors for more than 200 years is not hard to understand.

The body relies on this essential mineral for a variety of functions, including blood pressure and the transmission of nerve impulses. Sodium levels in the blood must be carefully maintained.

If you eat a lot of salt – sodium chloride – you will become thirsty and drink water, diluting your blood enough to maintain the proper concentration of sodium. Ultimately you will excrete much of the excess salt and water in urine.

The theory is intuitive and simple. And it may be completely wrong.

New studies of Russian cosmonauts, held in isolation to simulate space travel, show that eating more salt made them less thirsty but somehow hungrier. Subsequent experiments found that mice burned more calories when they got more salt, eating 25 percent more just to maintain their weight.

Savor this (pardon the pun): salt consumption may be useful in fighting obesity, the current obsession of the nattering class.  If Mike has been encouraging people to gain weight by limiting salt consumption, he is undoing the work he did limiting soda servings to 16 ounces.

The point here is that "settled science" is an illusion, something all genuine scientists already know.  Alas, genuine scientists are in short supply when it comes to public policy, where global warming regulation empowers governments in the name of "scientific consensus" and new soda taxes enrich cities while hitting low-income families the hardest.

As usual with genuine science, more research is required to discover the complexities of salt and metabolism:

"The work suggests that we really do not understand the effect of sodium chloride on the body," said Dr. Hoenig.

"These effects may be far more complex and far-reaching than the relatively simple laws that dictate movement of fluid, based on pressures and particles."

She and others have not abandoned their conviction that high-salt diets can raise blood pressure in some people.

But now, Dr. Hoenig said, "I suspect that when it comes to the adverse effects of high sodium intake, we are right for all the wrong reasons."

In the meantime, I will enjoy my salty food for the right reason: it tastes better.