As we get older, raised blood pressure (BP) is a common health problem. Experts advise us to reduce salt intake. We accept this without question as good universal advice for everyone, but is it really? Does it apply to everyone? There are always a few exceptions to the rule; but who are they?
(Note: this is an essay by Gary Moller, reflecting upon what he has observed when applying the HTMA in the Clinic, including the unique patterns on HTMA that are often common to a health condition. This is not to diagnose a health problem, nor are there any treatment recommendations. The intention here is to help guide nutrition and lifestyle support).
Reducing raised blood pressure is more complex than cutting salt, relaxing more, losing weight and getting some exercise. Cutting out salt is a simplistic and probably useless remedy for elevated BP. It may be harmful. Let me explain why.
Salt (sodium - Na) is an electrolyte in the body. It works with other minerals such as calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg), but principally potassium (K).
Na is the accelerator for blood pressure. K is the brake.
For healthy BP both Na and K must be in adequate supply and in balance. Each has a Goldilocks Zone in the body - not too much, not too little - just right!
Elevated BP may be more because of imbalances between Ca and Mg. If Mg is deficient relative to Ca, there may be the gradual accumulation of Ca in soft tissues over the decades, including the walls of blood vessels. This is arteriosclerosis. As the arteries harden with this calcium shell, BP typically elevates.
Chronic systemic inflammation may contribute to this process of calcification. It may be because of the shifting of alkalising minerals, principally Ca, from bones into circulation to counter tissue acidity. One consequence of inflammation is acidity and the body must use alkalising minerals to keep body PH at 7.4. An indicator of loss of bone is elevated Ca and an elevation of Sr on the Nutritional and Additional Elements Charts of Interclinical HTMA.
Elevated tissue Zn relative to Mo is an indicator for systemic inflammation.
A diet low in Na may increase risk of death for elderly people by falls, heart failure and infections such as pneumonia. Low BP may cause confusion (dementia) and malnutrition by poor digestion (Na is necessary for making digestive juices: HCL, enzymes). Low sodium may cause the accumulation of toxins in the body: It helps keep toxins in solution. A healthy immune system uses salt to combat some infections.
Toxins such as arsenic (As) and lead (Pb) may elevate Na, damage blood vessel walls directly and increase systemic inflammation, thus raising BP. Harm caused by these toxins is more common in New Zealand than we think:
The take home messages are these:
Simplistic, blanket health messages such as "cut the salt" may mislead and are probably unhealthy.
Good health comes from balance and moderation of nutrients and being toxin-free. Think of the nutrient Goldilocks Zone.
The best way to assess one's Nutrients Goldilocks Zones and toxic elements burdens is the Interclinical Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA):