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HealthBrief: Salt Has Been Linked to Autoimmune Disease

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For years we have known that salt could contribute to High Blood Pressure and that cutting down on salt in our diet was a good thing to do. Now, there are several recent studies showing that salt intake increases autoimmunity.

Autoimmunity occurs when your own immune system begins to attack your own body.  Below is a list of some common Autoimmune Diseases:

  • Addison’s Disease
  • Celiac Disease (as well, as gluten sensitivity
  • Dermatomyositis
  • Grave’s Disease
  • Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Myasthenia Gravis
  • Pernicious Anemia
  • Psoriasis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Scleroderma
  • Sjogren Syndrome
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
  • Type 1 Diabetes

Your immune system activity and balance is controlled by several types of immune cells, known as Th0, Th1, Th2 & Th17. Up-regulation or increased activity of Th17 cells is associated with autoimmunity. A fascinating study in Nature has recently shown that an enzyme known as serum glucocorticoid kinase 1 (SGK1), which regulates intracellular salt concentration, up-regulates Th17 cells when they are exposed to higher salt concentrations. What this means is that the more salt you eat the more you upregulate your Th17 cells and the greater is your risk of developing Autoimmune Disease.

What can be done?

  • Switch from table salt, sea salt, Himalayan or any other form of salt (they are all at least 85% sodium chloride) to salt substitute (potassium chloride)
  • Make sure you get enough iodine in your food or by supplementation
  • Eliminate processed foods, which have large quantities of salt added (as well, as sugar & artificial additives)