Safety Issues

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DISCLAIMER — Salt is in the dietary guidelines and food regulations because salt matters . It is in the public interest to discuss why, and what can be done about it. Any notice you may take of this discussion is entirely a decision for you and your doctors and other health professionals.


Most people join the Salt Skip Program to treat a health problem — to change the course of a disease. But salt control can also change the way some drugs work, especially diuretics.

Diuretics (‘fluid tablets’ or ‘water pills’) force the kidney to eliminate salt faster than normal, which is usually safe under medical supervision with regular blood tests. Doctors who refer patients to the Salt Skip Program are happy to withhold a diuretic, because combining diuretics with good salt control would need closer supervision. The book Salt Matters discusses diuretics on pages 227–229.

Lithium carbonate (a treatment for depression) works better with good salt control. Previous doses can even cause side effects, and the prescriber must supervise the dose if the diet changes.

Blood pressure drugs — especially ACE inhibitors and angiotensin antagonists — usually work better at lower doses with fewer side effects. This is why most prescribers refer their patients. They see good salt control as a healthy alternative, especially when higher doses have side effects.

Gastroenteritis (diarrhoea and vomiting) may cause salt loss severe enough to need replacement in patients who are sick enough to see a doctor. The prescribed treatment may include salt.

Some rare chronic diseases cause salt losses severe enough to need replacement by the time patients are sick enough to see a doctor. They include Addison’s disease, cystic fibrosis, Bartter’s syndrome and severe kidney failure.

When the way is clear for good salt control, the CLINICAL RESULTS include:

• swollen ankles usually recover within a week or two

• prehypertension (blood pressure above 120/80) is usually lower in 4 weeks

• high blood pressure is usually better controlled in 1–3 months

• severe vertigo attacks of Meniere’s Syndrome usually gone within 2–4 weeks

• normal menstrual cycles usually replace severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS) within a month

PREVENTION – Even HEALTHY PEOPLE raise a few issues

Hot weather, sport, cramp, and sweat loss

Cramp is unpredictable. Some people in the Salt Skip Program complain of classic cramp in the calf muscles at night even at salt intakes high enough to give them health problems. Some have less cramp with good salt control, yet cramp returns if they make the mistake of having a salty meal.

Sweat is salty in proportion to the salt intake. Good salt control suppresses the saltiness of sweat so much that it enables fit Australians to sweat just as freely in tropical Australia and remain just as well as the Aboriginal population, who have thrived for millennia in great heat on their traditional diet without any added salt or seawater. Competitive sport that pushes people to the limit of endurance is an artificial stress, and Salt Matters reviews the debate on hot weather, sport, and sports drinks.


Pregnancy is normal in every human society with good salt control, but it is wise to seek medical agreement and supervision before controlling salt for the first time during pregnancy (some women may become unwell). Salt Matters explains this on pages 230–231.

Adequate iodine intake

About a billion people worldwide need a small trace of iodine daily to prevent iodine deficiency. The chapter on iodine in Salt Matters reviews the options for getting iodine without using iodised salt.


Page last modified on: Tuesday 06 Nov, 2007

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