Do you fear salt because you think it will cause high blood pressure?
Dr Paul Mason says this information is outdated, and not backed by the latest research. But when it comes to how much salt you might need on a low carb diet, each individual will be very different.
Dr Mason talks us through how we know we’re getting enough salt, as well as some very interesting ways to incorporate it into our diet.
Dr Peter Brukner: Now Paul, what about salt on this sort of diet?
Dr Paul Mason: Well, salt contains sodium, and this is the thing that we've always been taught to fear it because we're worried that this extra sodium we're having is going to cause high blood pressure and a whole lot of flying effects. But like saturated fat, we're now learning that the science isn't so clear. And in actual fact, it looks like people who consume more sodium it looks like people who consume more sodium be better off than people who consume too little.
Dr Peter Brukner: So we shouldn't worry too much about salt anymore.
Dr Paul Mason: Well no, I would say not. So I would say that we should be consuming salt liberally to taste, not excessively. But if your kidneys are working well then that means if you do have a little bit too much sodium then your kidneys will be able to get rid of it from the body anyway. So if you're consuming 1 to 2 teaspoons of extra salt a day, that contains a good amount of sodium that's just about right.
Dr Peter Brukner: So we need more salt on a low carb ketogenic diet?
Dr Paul Mason: Well, yes. I mean I guess there's two things at play here. So first of all, we get most of the salt or sodium in our diet from processed foods. So when you transition to a real food diet that doesn't have many of these processed foods in there, the salt intake often reduces dramatically, the salt intake often reduces dramatically, When you lower the carbohydrates in your diet, you also lower your insulin levels. And one of the job of insulin is to cause the body to hold onto sodium which is contained within salt. So when the insulin levels fall we end up losing a lot more sodium from our body in our urine.
Dr Paul Mason: So there's a double effect - one you're eating less salt, and 2 you're losing more sodium through the urine. So in this situation, we actually need to deliberately ingest more salt and there's consequences if we don't do this. You may have heard of the keto flu Peter, so the most obvious symptom of that is when you stand up quickly and you feel a little bit dizzy. That's for all intents and purposes - a lack of sodium or salt in the body.
Dr Peter Brukner: So keto flu occurs when you transition onto a low carb diet and in the short term you do have these symptoms that are probably due to low salt.
Dr Paul Mason: Exactly. So especially in that first phase, when you're starting a low carbohydrate diet. You often need to deliberately add extra salt back in.
Dr Peter Brukner: So when you say extra salt, what are we talking about a teaspoon, two teaspoons a day?
Dr: Paul Mason: Exactly. So one to two teaspoons a day is an excellent amount to be adding to your food. And it's not just a little sprinkle here or there, you can actually be a little bit more generous, really flavour your food.
Dr Peter Brukner: So sprinkle plenty of salt in our foods and in our cooking, and you'll be fine.
Dr Paul Mason: Don't be scared.