Scientists Officially Link Processed Foods To Autoimmune Disease

Refined salt, i.e. pure NaCl instead of sea salt, may be making our immune systems attack us.

The modern diet of processed foods, takeaways and microwave meals could be to blame for a sharp increase in autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, including alopecia, asthma and eczema.

A team of scientists from Yale University in the U.S and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, in Germany, say junk food diets could be partly to blame.

‘This study is the first to indicate that excess refined and processed salt may be one of the environmental factors driving the increased incidence of autoimmune diseases,’ they said.

U.S. fast foods are often more than twice as salt-laden as those of other countries. While government-led public health campaigns and legislation efforts have reduced refined salt levels in many countries, the U.S. government has been reluctant to press the issue. That’s left fast-food companies free to go salt crazy,...

Bread is the No. 1 source of refined salt consumption in the American diet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

… T helper cells … a subset of these cells – known as Th17 cells – also play an important role in the development of autoimmune diseases.

In the latest study, scientists discovered that exposing these cells in a lab to a table salt solution made them act more ‘aggressively.’

They found that mice fed a diet high in refined salts saw a dramatic increase in the number of Th17 cells in their nervous systems that promoted inflammation.

They were also more likely to develop a severe form of a disease associated with multiple sclerosis in humans.

The scientists then conducted a closer examination of these effects at a molecular level.

Laboratory tests revealed that salt exposure increased the levels of cytokines released by Th17 cells 10 times more than usual. Cytokines are proteins used to pass messages between cells.

Refined, processed and bleached salts are the problem. Salt is critical to our health and is the most readily available nonmetallic mineral in the world. Our bodies are not designed to processed refined sodium chloride since it has no nutritional value. However, when a salt is filled with dozens of minerals such as in rose-coloured crystals of Himalayan rock salt or the grey texture of Celtic salt, our bodies benefit tremendously for their incorporation into our diet.

“These mineral salts are identical to the elements of which our bodies have been built and were originally found in the primal ocean from where life originated,”…

He says salt has always been part of the human diet, but what has changed is the mineral content of our food. Instead of eating food high in minerals, such as nuts, fruit and vegetables, people are filling themselves up with “mineral empty” processed food and fizzy drinks.

Noticed that the authors talk about Himalayan salt, Celtic salt and sea salt, but there's no scientific data showing these salts don't activate Th17 cells or causing them to release 10 times as many cytokines.

I already bake my own bread with far far less salt than commercial bread. However, I plan to replace my iodized salt with sea salt after reading this. I recommend examining the salt content before you buy bread.

Just one 6-inch Roasted Garlic loaf from Subway–just the bread,...–has 1,260 mg sodium, about as much as 14 strips of bacon.

image source

Tags: autoimmune disease, table salt

Views: 96

Replies to This Discussion

Thanks for pointing out that despite the "primal soup" woo, the scientists didn't show any benefit to the Himalayan and other fancy salts versus pure NaCl -- they might not be a nutritionally significant source of other minerals!

Another thing worth emphasizing: U.S. fast foods are often more than twice as salt-laden as those of other countries.

(As in french-fries-shaped salt? :-)

Salt, along with sugar and fat, is an inexpensive way to make low-quality ingredients more appealing.

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