Consuming sodium with meals has been linked to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to research.
Excessive sodium consumption has been cautioned by physicians for years as a potential cause of heart attacks and strokes.
The Groundbreaking Study
The new study, however, from Tulane University in the United States establishes the first link between excessive sodium consumption and type 2 diabetes.
Over 400,000 Britons were asked about their salt consumption and table salt use. Experts analyzed the responses.
Unfortunately, neither the quantity of salt consumed nor the salt used in preparation were evaluated.
Understanding the Risk Factors
During an approximate 12-year follow-up period, more than 13,000 participants developed type 2 diabetes on average.
People who ate salt daily had a 39% higher risk of acquiring the disease than those who didn’t.
Those who added salt “occasionally” or “regularly” were exposed to a 13% and 20% increased risk, respectively.
“It is common knowledge that restricting salt intake can lower the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and hypertension,” said lead author Professor Lu Qi.
However, this is the first study to demonstrate that removing the saltshaker from the table can also aid in the prevention of type 2 diabetes.
Participants’ age, sex, height, weight, smoking status, alcohol consumption, and activity level may have affected results.
The team stated in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings that additional research was required to determine why sodium consumption was associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes.
Sodium’s Role in Obesity and Diabetes
However, according to Professor Qi, the addition of sodium to food may encourage individuals to consume more, thereby increasing the risk of obesity, which is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
He stated, “As demonstrated in the paper, the increased body fat associated with salting foods contributed in part to the increased risk of type 2 diabetes.”
Sodium consumption has also been linked to hypertension and inflammation, which may increase diabetes risk.
The NHS advises that individuals consume no more than 6 grams (approximately one teaspoon) of salt daily.
Diabetes UK’s research communications manager, Dr. Faye Riley, who was not involved in the study, stated, “It is common knowledge that excessive salt can cause health problems, including hypertension, a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.”
“This study adds to the body of evidence suggesting that salt consumption is associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes; however, it does not specify whether or why salt is directly responsible for this; therefore, additional research would be appreciated to clarify this.”
She continued, “We recommend that you consume no more than one teaspoonful (6g) of salt per day.”
Choosing Healthier Options
Numerous pre-packaged foods contain salt, including bacon, sausages, crisps, and ready-to-eat dishes.
Therefore, bear in mind to read food labels and select products that contain less sodium.
“Instead of adding additional salt to your food, experiment with various spices and herbs to enhance the flavor.”
Approximately 4.3 million individuals in the United Kingdom were diagnosed with diabetes in 2021/22, according to official data.
In addition, 850,000 individuals have diabetes without being aware of it.
Health professionals are concerned because untreated type 2 diabetes can cause strokes and cardiovascular disease.
Nearly 90% of diabetes occurrences are type 2, which is linked to obesity and diagnosed in middle age. In contrast, type 1 diabetes is a hereditary condition that is typically detected during early adulthood.