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Short low salt diet experiment -- not very encouraging

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Old 07-25-2005, 05:51 PM   #1
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kkotha HB User
Post Short low salt diet experiment -- not very encouraging

I have a significant family history of HBP and stroke. Iam kind of on the border line for hypertension. So, I thought of doing an experiment with low salt diet.

Before starting the experiment here are some sample readings (used Omron BP meter):-
123/80/72, 128/73/81, 135/75/76, 130/83/77

I did a 7 day experiement with low salt (<=500mg/day). Basically I ate only the following (kind of tough!):
-- fat free yogurt,
-- fruits
-- brown rice(boiled)
-- some times a bit of Mrs. Dash herbs
-- very few times (potassium based)no salt

During the experiment, my BP was in the range 120-140/80-90 ( eg., readings 124/83/82, 135/81/81, 140/78/68, 142/91/93, 133/74/77, 117/76/75).

Overall the average reading seems to have gone up during low salt experiment and it is not very encouraging. So, today I reserved back to normal salt diet.

1. Did I do any thing wrong? Was it a very short experiment to see any results?
2. Can someone throw light why I did not see any positive results ( I was expecting to see BP drop below 120/80 :-) )


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Old 07-25-2005, 06:12 PM   #2
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Re: Short low salt diet experiment -- not very encouraging

From the information I've read, some people are salt sensitive, some are not. I've read figures all the way from only 10% to 60% are salt sensitive. I have no idea who is right. Anyway, it doesn't appear that you are one of them. (I don't believe I am either.) I have a hunch that maybe each person has their own level at which they become salt sensitive. Maybe, for example, your doctor can only take 500 mg. salt daily before his pressure starts going up, someone else can take 1500, and a third person can take 3000.

I think your test was plenty long enough to tell about short-term results of sodium in the diet. I've read that even people who are not salt-sensitive might have a long-term increase in blood pressure from excessive sodium, though. By that we are talking years, and I don't think you want to experiment that long! I haven't seen any research to prove that anyway, so I'm not going to restrict myself to tasteless food just on the chance.

I've had my own best results from diet by eating very large amounts of the low-calorie vegetables, and the research seems to confirm that including plenty of veggies and fruits in the diet is the way to go.

Old 07-25-2005, 09:56 PM   #3
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Palamedes HB User
Re: Short low salt diet experiment -- not very encouraging

Originally Posted by kkotha
1. Did I do any thing wrong? Was it a very short experiment to see any results?
Nope, sounds like a very good test. From my experiences, sodium seems to balance out in about 3 days. So, your 7 day experiment was most likely a good test... assuming you were thorough in checking labels on everything.
Originally Posted by kkotha
2. Can someone throw light why I did not see any positive results ( I was expecting to see BP drop below 120/80 :-) )
This is an easy question... Your body compensated for the drop in sodium. And, for many individuals, their BP will go up on a low sodium diet. So, a low sodium diet isn't necessarily the best way to control BP for everyone. And, IMHO, it is probably doing more harm than good for you. However, from these results, you would most likely get fantastic BP lowering results from an ACE Inhibitor or an ARB if you chose to treat your BP. And, if you were to go on an ACEI or ARB, then you should see dramatic results from a low sodium diet.

Your BP doesn't seem high enough to worry about meds right now. But, with your family history, you are wise to be watching it. And, if you do decide to use meds in the future, you at least know you should start out with an ACEI or ARB - not a diuretic or CCB.


Old 07-26-2005, 05:15 AM   #4
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Re: Short low salt diet experiment -- not very encouraging

I assume that you took care to avoid all prepared foods with an unknown quantity of sodium. If so you have done a useful service.! I KNOW how hard it is to control sodium to such a low level.

It seems to me that the results show that you are not a salt-sensitive hypertensive. I am fondest of the 20% salt-driven hypertensives figure and I include myself in the group. My partner and I can eat exactly the same high salt day and only I will gain water weeight and BP points.
I SORT of feel that 20-40% are pure renin hypertensives and that most fall in the mixed hypertension types, but that's only a feeling. It wouuld seem to me that your drug of choice would be an ARB or an ACEI and that you have no need at all for a diuretic.

Maybe with divine inspiration I can force myself to try that same weeklong experiment but I dread spending a week cooking EVERYTHING from scratch and not venturing into a restaurant or pulling a Stouffer's out of the freezer. I really WOULD like the data though!

Did you drop any weight during your week of near-salt-free eating?
What happened when you went back to REGULAR overdoses of salt?

Last edited by Lenin; 07-26-2005 at 05:19 AM.

Old 07-26-2005, 08:17 AM   #5
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Re: Short low salt diet experiment -- not very encouraging

I agree, you are just not a salt sensitive. I am not either. If I eat a lot of salty food I gain water weight, but it doesn't affect my blood pressure.

You are wise to monitor your blood pressure with your history. At this point I don't see a need to medicate, unless you have something else going on like diabetes. For you, your best route is to get regular exercise, eat a balanced diet, watch your weight and keep salt intake modest. Your test shows you don't need to be draconian about salt intake though. Avoiding heavy drinking of alcohol is also good. You might also see if caffeine influences your blood pressure. I found one cup of tea raised my blood pressure by 10 points for several hours.

Even with all this healthy living, be aware that genes are a very strong determining factor. I'm afraid you can do everything right and still get high blood pressure based on your genes. That can be discouraging, but take heart that things would probably be WORSE if you weren't carerful.

I'm in that boat. Dispite losing 35 pounds to get to my ideal weight, eating a good diet, exercising, decaffinating, watching my salt, etc. I still have high blood pressure. Thanks Mom. I have two obese brothers, one has a high stress life and does not have high blood pressure. The other is a long term severe alcoholic and has only recently developed high blood pressure and diabetes. If he weren't a fat drunk, he'd probably be fine. They didn't get Mom's blood pressure gene.

Last edited by mgraylorn; 07-26-2005 at 08:21 AM.

Old 07-27-2005, 07:10 AM   #6
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dreamer89 HB User
Re: Short low salt diet experiment -- not very encouraging

i read the stats that said that only about 2 percent of those with hypertension are salt sensitive, I have very high bp always have, I did the low salt thing several years ago, to avoid medications, and for abut 2 months I stayed below 500 mg and you know what? my pressure went up, and the salt cravings were terrible. I guess my body knows more than the doctors what it needs in some cases.

mgraylorn don't fret about the weight sometimes losing weight does cause a slight reduction in pressure (because dieting slows metabolism not because of better caridiovasular health) my doctor said after I asked her if I could lose weight would that make the pressure go down significantly and she said probably not,

because when I was a runner tho still somewhat overweight I still had high blood pressure just not as high as now, but still stage 2 level.


Old 07-27-2005, 10:43 AM   #7
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Re: Short low salt diet experiment -- not very encouraging

Dreamer, I think I got a slight blood pressure decrease from all the things I did, unfortunately it wasn't enough to make me non hypertensive. The blood pressure result was rather disappointing, but I look and feel so much better over all from my lifestyle changes that I don't want to give them up. Losing the weight has also significantly lessened my back and knee problems. Now if I could just manage to sleep more than 4 to 6 hours a night, things would be peachy.

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