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Can salt lower blood sugar?

by (20411)
Updated about 2 hours ago
Created May 16, 2011 at 4:40 PM

Okay, so last night I was making a batch of spiced burger patties for the week and just dumped what was left of my "Celtic Sea Salt Experiment" in with all the other spices. I kinda overdid it, cuz they are so salty I can hardly stand it. But I'm not wasting 4 punds of ground beef! Okay, it was only $12 bucks on sale, but still...

So I had one last night and within 15-20 minutes I'm feeling hypo and tested at 52. Great excuse to have a couple spoonfuls of ice cream, by the way. thought maybe it was a fluke.

Today, out of curiousity, I tested at 10 AM (128) had two burger patties with water, and tested 30 minutes later - 103! Wierd. Google Fu turned up the following:

http://www.nature.com/oby/journal/v16/n6/abs/oby200869a.html

http://joe.endocrinology-journals.org/cgi/content/abstract/185/3/429

I'm not suggesting that excessive salt is a good thing, but can anyone explain how sodium does this? Or have similar experiences?

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15 · May 18, 2014 at 6:04 AM

This is wrong wrong wrong. The body keeps sodium and potassium in balance. It is the LOSS of sodium that will cause the body to shed potassium, in order to keep the electrical differential in and out of the cell in proper range.

Extra sodium should cause increased water retention and should cause the body to hoard more potassium, if it is available.

If you must supplement sodium, it's probably a good idea to make sure you get extra potassium. Some say potassium should only come from food, although I have not found good support for that.

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20411 · May 07, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Yeah, okay. I try not to refer to advertising copy for hard science. And Ray Peat is not a fan of pink/gray salts - says they are contaminated. Basically, I'm not paying extra for salt with no PROVEN additional health benefit. (The amount of extra minerals in sea salts is pretty negligible)

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20411 · May 17, 2011 at 2:40 PM

Yeah, it's wierd. High salt increases glucose uptake (lowers insulin resistance) in fat cells, so you get fatter. Low salt increases insulin resistance, so you get fatter! I guess Goldilocks was right...

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5136 · May 16, 2011 at 7:00 PM

should have been "or", not "of"

98148e265e1a9b27ce1c206190c1b8a4
5136 · May 16, 2011 at 7:00 PM

seems like both links only dicuss either excess salt consumption of low salt consumption, concluding negative effects in both.

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2435 · May 16, 2011 at 6:00 PM

After reading your link, I think I interpreted the science jargon to say that a lot of salt increases your insulin response. Not sure about that, but doesn't sound good.

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5136 · May 16, 2011 at 4:48 PM

sorry bout your burgers, but what a great question! I've always had a hunch that a reasonable unprocessed mineral salt intake was absolutely vital for top notch health, so I'm curious to see the answers to this question.

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6 Answers

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1044 · May 16, 2011 at 6:02 PM

Eating a lot of salt results in water retention which can dilute glucose concentration. Thus, you may transiently appear to be hypoglycemic while you have retained water since a glucometer measures the concentration of glucose in serum rather than total amount.

To elaborate with a bit better explanation, a quote I found:

"A diet with excessive salt intake has been found to contribute to hypoglycemia. Salt causes a loss of blood potassium that leads to a drop in blood sugar. Potassium is necessary to correct sugar metabolism abnormalities. Excessive salt intake causes potassium losses, which results in a drop in the blood sugar level. The low blood sugar level triggers the onset of stress, causing a lot of potassium to be lost in the urine and for sodium, as well as water, to be retained in the system." Source: http://www.encognitive.com/node/5451

E24390f6d880f9144cdf7ab13220a84a
15 · May 18, 2014 at 6:04 AM

This is wrong wrong wrong. The body keeps sodium and potassium in balance. It is the LOSS of sodium that will cause the body to shed potassium, in order to keep the electrical differential in and out of the cell in proper range.

Extra sodium should cause increased water retention and should cause the body to hoard more potassium, if it is available.

If you must supplement sodium, it's probably a good idea to make sure you get extra potassium. Some say potassium should only come from food, although I have not found good support for that.

E24390f6d880f9144cdf7ab13220a84a
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15 · May 18, 2014 at 6:09 AM

I am using both the NIPRO TrueResult and Abbott Freestyle Lite glucometers. What I have discovered is that when I supplement sodium (and potassium) at about 150 mg in 12 ounces of water, eight times a day, the TrueResult starts to read glucose at levels about 20% lower than the Freestyle Lite.

I attribute this to some chemistry problem with how the TrueResult processes glucose in the blood. But it raises the important issue here that maybe people cannot rely on glucometers when supplementing a lot of sodium.

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0 · May 07, 2012 at 3:56 AM

Himalayan salt is especially good at regulating blood sugar. This kind of salt is extremely healthy for the body: http://naturalhomecures.net/crystal-salt/diseases/a-to-h/vital-element-for-balancing-sugar-levels-in-diabetics

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20411 · May 07, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Yeah, okay. I try not to refer to advertising copy for hard science. And Ray Peat is not a fan of pink/gray salts - says they are contaminated. Basically, I'm not paying extra for salt with no PROVEN additional health benefit. (The amount of extra minerals in sea salts is pretty negligible)

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0 · June 28, 2011 at 10:04 PM

I am wonder the same ... "Does sodium intake decrease blood sugar?" I have been dieting of late and so decreasing my sugar intake. However this morning I had a cup of coffee with sweetner for the first time on my diet. I struggle with low blood sugar sometimes and am fully confident in my abilities to recognize LOW blood sugar - hot, sweaty, uncomfortable, need to lay down, light headed, hypotension, increased pulse. - However this is not how I felt! I felt warm but not sweaty at all! I was uncomfortable but not light headed. Actually I had a bit of headache (a sign of hyponatremia/low sodium). My pulse was not racing. It was 58-60; my norm is 54-62. I thought about having something sweet, but the thought of sugar just made me feel kinda "sick". I decided I was craving something salty. I know that Potassium (K) helps with insulin to bring glucose/sugar into the cell from the blood stream. I also know that K and Sodium (Na) are inversely opposite in levels; when K is high in the blood stream, Na is low and vice versa. Na is actually needed to bring K into the cell reference the KNa pump.(K likes to be in the cell and Na likes to be out of the cell in the blood stream.) So I thought putting all these truths together might make me feel better if I was indeed experiencing hyperglycemia. (I have not been taught that Na lowers K, but since I have been taught the other truths ... It just kinda made since to me.) So I thought if K with insulin that my body makes helps to bring glucose into the cell and if Na helps K go into the cell then Na would ultimately help insulin go into the cell. So increasing my Na intake would decrease my blood sugar, and I would feel better. After salty green beans and a peanut butter sandwich (Yes, I know 1) weird combo and 2) peanut butter and bread also have carbs/sugar it is complexed carbs and in combo with the Na I would prevent too much of a drop in blood sugar) I started to feel so much better. My headache went away almost immediately, and I felt completely better by 1 to 2 hrs later.

So does this prove that Na intake decreases blood sugar? I'm not sure, but I can tell you the next time I feel like that and sugar doesn't appeal to me ... I'm going for the salty!

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78422 · May 16, 2011 at 5:47 PM

I don't know, but according to Ray Peat and Lita Lee, both biochemists, salt does have this effect. That's one of the reasons they recommend putting a bit of salt in your fruit juice, if you eat any. You might want to check their sites for their reasoning on this.

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2435 · May 16, 2011 at 5:12 PM

Eating fat slows the metabolizing of sugar. Learned that during my gestational diabetes. Afraid of an insulin spike? Pour on some more butter! Salt, however, I have no knowledge of. It'd be nice to have another tool in the arsenal.

98148e265e1a9b27ce1c206190c1b8a4
5136 · May 16, 2011 at 7:00 PM

seems like both links only dicuss either excess salt consumption of low salt consumption, concluding negative effects in both.

1fc9c11cf23b2f62ac78979de933ad83
2435 · May 16, 2011 at 6:00 PM

After reading your link, I think I interpreted the science jargon to say that a lot of salt increases your insulin response. Not sure about that, but doesn't sound good.

98148e265e1a9b27ce1c206190c1b8a4
5136 · May 16, 2011 at 7:00 PM

should have been "or", not "of"

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4
20411 · May 17, 2011 at 2:40 PM

Yeah, it's wierd. High salt increases glucose uptake (lowers insulin resistance) in fat cells, so you get fatter. Low salt increases insulin resistance, so you get fatter! I guess Goldilocks was right...

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