Salt has long been implicated in various health issues, but a recent study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings sheds light on a new and unexpected connection: its impact on preventing type 2 diabetes. This groundbreaking research, led by Dr. Lu Qi and his team at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, marks the first of its kind to reveal the potential of managing salt intake as a preventative measure against this prevalent metabolic disorder.
The study, encompassing a substantial cohort of 402,982 participants aged 37 to 73 from the U.K. Biobank, centered on assessing the participants’ salt consumption habits through a detailed questionnaire. Astonishingly, the findings showcased a clear correlation between higher salt intake and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes over an 11.9-year median follow-up period.
Dr. Qi emphasized the significance of this revelation, stating, “We already know that limiting salt can reduce the risk for cardiovascular diseases and hypertension, but this study shows for the first time that taking the saltshaker off the table can help prevent type 2 diabetes as well.”
The study’s results revealed a progressive escalation in risk with increased salt consumption:
- Those who sometimes added salt showed an adjusted HR of 1.11.
- Individuals who usually added salt exhibited an adjusted HR of 1.18.
- Those who always added salt demonstrated the highest risk, with an adjusted HR of 1.28 compared to those who never or rarely added salt.
Notably, the study illuminated the mediation of this association by factors like BMI, waist to hip ratio, and C-reactive protein. These elements collectively accounted for a significant proportion of the observed link, attributing 33.8%, 39.9%, and 8.6% of the connection, respectively.
However, the study did not establish significant links between salt intake frequency and hypertension or other risk factors directly associated with type 2 diabetes. Instead, it highlighted the role of BMI, specifically driven by body fat mass, as a key mediator in this relationship.
Despite these insightful findings, the study acknowledged its limitations. It couldn’t entirely discount the possibility that high salt intake frequencies might serve as markers for an overall unhealthy lifestyle. Moreover, relying on self-reported salt consumption could introduce biases into the study’s outcomes.
Dr. Qi emphasized the need for further research to establish causation but hinted at potential mechanisms behind the association. He suggested that increased salt consumption might lead individuals to consume larger portions of food, consequently raising the risk for factors like inflammation and obesity.
In conclusion, while more research is warranted to unravel the precise cause-effect dynamics, Dr. Qi advocates for a simple yet profound lifestyle change: shifting towards low-sodium seasoning. This change, he believes, could yield a remarkable impact on individual health outcomes. As Dr. Qi aptly puts it, “Switching to low-sodium seasoning is not a difficult change to make, but it could have a tremendous impact on your health.”
The study’s findings signal a promising avenue for diabetes prevention by addressing a seemingly unrelated aspect of diet – salt intake.
- New research links high salt consumption to risk of type 2 diabetes. https://news.tulane.edu/pr/new-research-links-high-salt-consumption-risk-type-2-diabetes. Published Nov. 1, 2023. Accessed Nov. 6, 2023.
- Wang X, et al. Mayo Clin Proc. 2023;doi:10.1016/j.mayocp.2023.02.029.
- Higher salt intake associated with increased risk for type 2 diabetes
Possible References Used