A surprising result in a new study is advising too much salt in your diet will compromise your immune system, and should be added to the list of adverse health effects.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that people eat no more than 5 grams of salt a day to avoid high blood pressure, which can cause strokes and heart disease. Not only that: “We have now been able to prove for the first time that excessive salt intake also significantly weakens an important arm of the immune system,” explains Professor Christian Kurts from the Institute of Experimental Immunology at the University of Bonn.
To begin with, a team of researchers examined mice, the outcome showed mice that were fed a salt-rich diet developed significantly more severe bacterial infections compared with the other group was given less salt. The study’s lead author Katarzyna Jobin said: “In the spleen and liver of these animals we counted 100 to 1,000 times the number of disease-causing pathogens.”
Researchers gave 10 people, aged 20 to 50 years old, 6 grams of salt per day, in the form of three tablets a day, to be taken on top of their regular diet. This is about the equivalent salt of two fast-food meals. A week later, a few of their immune cells called neutrophils, had weakened and their ability to kill bacteria, reduced. Compared to the results from the same test done at the beginning of the experiment.
Previous research has submitted contradictory results, and in this particular study, the researchers were surprised by their findings. For example, one study revealed that consuming additional salt assists in combating certain skin diseases.
Kurts points out the “only through investigations in an entire organism were we able to uncover the complex control circuits that lead from salt intake to this immunodeficiency.”