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Covid Research Reinforces The Need to Cut Back on Salt

Covid Research Reinforces The Need to Cut Back on Salt

Doctors and nutritionists repeatedly highlight the need for consumers to cut back on their salt intake with a continuous stream of media headlines around the need to change eating habits. The reason is the overwhelming evidence that links dietary salt intake to high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) as well as many other non-communicable diseases including severe immune deficiencies (1-5).

Many people are unaware that high blood pressure is the biggest known cause of disability and premature death in the UK through stroke, heart attack and heart disease. Sadly, 350 people a day in the UK will have a stroke or heart attack caused by high blood pressure (6).  Reducing the salt intake of the population by just 1g per day could save 6,000 lives a year (7,8).  Unfortunately, over the last couple of years this simple public health message and call to action has been lost in the maelstrom and fall-out from the global COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is evident, but not well-known, that high blood pressure also has a significant part to play in the outcome from COVID-19 infection. Maybe this information will make consumers finally re-examine their eating habits and salt intake?

Research by Lippi et al. (2020)(9) found patients with high blood pressure were up to 2.5 times higher risk of severe or fatal effects from COVID-19, especially in older individuals. Whilst global studies by Reyes et al., (2021)(10) have identified that patients were more likely to be hospitalised by COVID-19 if they suffered from hypertensive disease and more likely to have acute respiratory distress syndrome and increased mortality than patients without hypertension.

Data from the Office for National Statistics for deaths in England and Wales, between October and December 2021, confirm these observations in their report on the proportion of death certificates where COVID-19 was the underlying cause. Hypertensive disease was reported among the top 3 pre-existing conditions recorded on the death certificates (11). 

Thankfully the number of deaths from COVID-19 has dropped significantly but the pandemic is far from over and in the meantime about one third of all adults in the UK still have high blood pressure(6). The current evidence indicates that reducing the risk of high blood pressure is an important public health target to not only reduce the number of people dying prematurely but to improve our resilience to pathogenic infection like COVID-19.

Consumers are beginning to make the connection between diet and health and are making lifestyle changes that they recognise will improve their health and well-being. Some are changing quite dramatically, whilst others, are making small, simple tweaks to their existing eating habits. Emerging from the pandemic, many more consumers are cooking from scratch at home and choosing healthier ingredients. 

High blood pressure can be reduced and controlled by reducing salt intake, getting active, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing stress and a well-balanced diet (6).  Salt alternatives like Suölo® Reduced Sodium Sea Salt and seasonings can contribute to reducing sodium intake (7), while enjoying more flavour and less salt. 

Inspiration for Suölo® has come directly from the successful salt reduction initiatives in Finland (12).Great taste with well-being are values at the heart of all Suölo® products, reflecting the Nordic health philosophy to help the body find its natural balance.

Reference:

  1. WHO Guideline: Sodium intake for adults and children. Geneva: World Health Organization 2012
  2. Mozaffarian D et al. Global sodium consumption and death from cardiovascular causes. N Eng J Med 2014; 371(7):624-634
  3. He FJ and Macgregor GA. Effect of longer term modest salt reduction on blood pressure: Cochrane systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised trials .BMJ. 2013;346:f1325
  4. Powles J et al. Global regional and national sodium intakes in 1990 and 2010: A systematic analysis of 24h urinary sodium excretion and dietary surveys worldwide. BMJ Open 2013; 3(12): e:003733
  5. Jobin K et al. A high-salt diet compromises antibacterial neutrophil responses through hormonal perturbation. Science Translational Medicine DOI: 10.1126/scietranslmed.aay3850
  6. Blood Pressure UK
  7. Suolo Reduced Sodium Salt – Suölo®
  8. Action on Salt - Action on Salt
  9. Lippi G et al. Hypertension in patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): a pooled analysis. Polish Archives of Internal Medicine 2020;130(4):304-309. Doi:10.20452/pamw.15272
  10. Reyes C et al., Characteristics and outcomes of patients with COVID-19 with and without prevalent hypertension: a multinational cohort study. BMJ Open 2021;11e057632. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2021-057632
  11. Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest insights - Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)
  12. The Suölo® Story (suolo.world)
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