How A High-Salt Diet Can Hurt You


New data suggest that high salt consumption may prove fatal to certain gut bacteria, and that this could contribute to high blood pressure and diseases affecting the immune system.

Scientists are already aware of a link between high blood pressure and a diet high in salt.

High-salt diets may also speed up the progression of autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis (MS).

A new study proposes a mechanism that may be behind this association.

The research was led by scientists from the Experimental and Clinical Research Center and Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, Germany.

What is Lactobacillus?

A type of gut bacteria called Lactobacillus, found in some fermented foods — such as sauerkraut, yogurt, and cheese — are considered “good” bacteria; they are thought to offer protection against certain diseases.

Last year, for example, Medical News Today reported on studies that found that Lactobacillusinhibits the growth of several multidrug-resistant bacterial pathogens and may also help to reducekidney inflammation in women with lupus.

The latest study, presented at the British Cardiovascular Society Conference in Manchester in the United Kingdom, suggests that eating a lot of salt could kill Lactobacillus and, thereby, increase the risk of disease.

High-salt diet killed off Lactobacillus

The researchers found that a version of Lactobacillus found in mice is destroyed when they are fed a diet high in salt. The high-salt diet also caused the mice’s blood pressure to rise and triggered the activation of inflammation-inducing immune cells, called TH17 cells.

The mice also demonstrated symptoms of a neurological condition similar to MS called encephalomyelitis.

The authors found that encephalomyelitis symptoms and TH17 cell count could be reduced by giving the mice a probiotic treatment of Lactobacillus, which also stabilized the mice’s blood pressure.




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