The Salt Fix: Why the Experts Got It All Wrong--and How Eating More Might Save Your Life Hardcover – Illustrated, June 6, 2017
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From the Publisher
“James DiNicolantonio shakes up a nutritional hornet’s nest with The Salt Fix. . . . [A] smart and interesting account of [the ferocious scientific debate].”—Michael Bader, author of More than Bread and Butter, for Alternet
“DiNicolantonio’s premise completely overturns the conventional wisdom about salt consumption.”—Take Care Broadcast
“Thought-provoking, evidenced-based information for anyone interested in improving their health.”—Library Journal
“Why we should embrace the salt shaker, not shun it.”—Canadian National Post
“Dr. DiNicolantonio takes us away from hype and hyperbole to a place of rationality as it relates to salt. This extensively researched text lets us finally erase the guilt all of us felt when catering to our desire for this important mineral.”—David Perlmutter, MD, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Grain Brain and The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan
“Dr. James DiNicolantonio shatters the age-old myth that salt is a cause of heart disease. He also makes excellent recommendations for a heart-healthy diet that your tastebuds will really enjoy! If you want to learn how to make food taste great again, discover tips to improve your heart health, and be enlightened about the truth about salt, you’ve got to check out this book!”—Dr. Josh Axe, author of Eat Dirt, founder of DrAxe online
“For decades, doctors and mainstream medicine have recommended that you lower your salt intake, but in this well-researched and surprising book, Dr. DiNicolantonio explains why this seemingly well-informed advice is, in fact, wrong. The Salt Fix provides the advice and the program you need to add back the salt and in the process improve your health and your waistline.”—Robb Wolf, New York Times bestselling author of The Paleo Solution and Wired to Eat
“The medical profession has done a disservice to millions of people by misleading them into thinking they need to avoid salt in their diets. Our blood is salty; our tissue fluids are salty; we need salt to thrive. In The Salt Fix, Dr. DiNicolantonio charts the ill-begotten thinking that got us to this sorry state of almost universal salt avoidance, and imparts invaluable scientifically-sound advice for adding this healthful substance back into your diet. Dr. DiNicolantonio’s book will help you improve your health by actually adding salt back into your favorite foods.”—Michael R. Eades, M.D., New York Times bestselling author of Protein Power
“This superb book busts many misconceptions around salt consumption. It's a must read.”—Dr. Aseem Malhotra, Consultant Cardiologist and advisor to UK's National Obesity Forum
About the Author
James J. DiNcolantonio, Pharm. D., is a cardiovascular research scientist and doctor of pharmacy at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Missouri. A well-respected and internationally known scientist, and expert on health and nutrition, he has contributed extensively to health policy and has even testified in front of the Canadian Senate regarding the harms of added sugars. He serves as the Associate Editor of British Medical Journal's (BMJ) Open Heart, a journal published in partnership with the British Cardiovascular Society. He is the author or coauthor of approximately 200 publications in the medical literature. He is also on the Editorial Advisory Board of several other medical journals, including Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases and International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology (IJCPT).
- Item Weight : 1 pounds
- Hardcover : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0451496965
- Dimensions : 6.3 x 1 x 9.5 inches
- ISBN-13 : 978-0451496966
- Publisher : Harmony; Illustrated edition (June 6, 2017)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #143,448 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Well worth the read.
As a prevention and wellness family physician who prides himself in looking deeper at cause and effect in healthcare, I must admit that I had my blinders on when it came to salt. I too believed that salt was to be watched closely and tried to remain at the lowest recommended usage. Well, no longer! The author James DiNicolantonio makes a great case as to why limiting your salt to the national guidelines may be BAD for your health.
In my practice, I have different views than mainstream medicine in many areas of health and wellness. Why? Well, I have arrived at the point in my career when I am not afraid to ask the “experts”- “WHY?”.
Why is fat bad?
Why is cholesterol bad?
Do cholesterol lowering drugs really save lives?
I like to dive deeply into cause and effect. But it appears like I did not look closely enough at how the human body uses salt. I was still advising people to watch their salt intake as I thought that the dietary recommendations were set in stone with irrefutable evidence.
Let me add one more question for the “experts”.
Why is consuming more than 2 grams of salt a day bad?
After reading The Salt Fix, I am disappointed in myself but that changes today. The author James DiNicolantonio very simply makes the case that the war on salt is as misguided as I believe the war on cholesterol and fat has been. He points out how salt is a vital nutrient that our body needs to stay in balance, just like fat and cholesterol. He clearly and simply shows how our body responds to different levels of salt intake.
He brings together many other aspects of my practice, writing about how it is not salt, but that other white processed powder, SUGAR, that is really the issue in most people with metabolic health issues. He points out how sugar can cause insulin resistance leading to Obesity, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Heart Disease, etc, etc. He then shows how too LITTLE salt also leads to insulin resistance, Obesity, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Heart Disease, etc, etc. See the twist?
Besides learning about the many beneficial aspects of salt, this book should make you a more skeptical thinker when it comes to national dietary guidelines. You should ask yourself, “Is there real proof that these guidelines are good for my health AND were these guidelines based on real medical studies or are they a dietary or political/industry power play?
If you are overweight, have High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Thyroid Disease, or Kidney Disease, BUY THIS BOOK and READ IT. If you like salt but are afraid to use it, BUY THIS BOOK and READ IT. Then have a conversation with your physician(s). If they just restate the National Dietary Salt guidelines without understanding the true data, lend them this book, or buy them one so they can refer to it and help more patients.
Along with most Americans, I assumed those guidelines were rooted in solid science, and I tried to adhere. I ate a lot of carbs -- the base of the food pyramid. I avoided eggs because of cholesterol. I avoided fat because of caloric density. And I avoided salt to avoid high blood pressure.
To say those guidelines didn't work for me would be an understatement. I won't bore you with the details, but I improved my health by essentially doing the opposite of those guidelines. Salt was the last of that dogma to be purged from my brain.
I got on the high-salt bandwagon a couple years ago when I saw how it "cured" my occasional headaches, fatigue, and light-headedness -- all symptoms of low blood volume. My exercise performance also improved.
Dr. DiNicolantonio clearly explains the mechanisms of sodium regulation. It's not a simple matter of sodium intake increasing blood pressure. The body is very good at regulating homeostatic levels of sodium, and if intake is too low, your body has several tricks to compensate -- including vasoconstriction to compensate for low blood volume. In effect, following the low-salt guidelines can increase blood pressure and make you feel like crap.
DiNicolantonio also tells a compelling story of salt in an evolutionary context, especially for those with European ancestry.
And he tells us how the guidelines went wrong.
Frankly, I was skeptical for a long time. I just couldn't believe that science could fail us for 40 years. I had faith in science.
To me, it's sad that this book is necessary, but I'm glad somebody has finally written this book. It needed to be written, and it's another milestone. Hopefully, this marks the point at which nutritional science starts getting it right.
Top reviews from other countries
Dr Nicolantonio also explains how the unexpected health improvements happen to people who eat more salt than the current daily recommendation. People with high blood pressure can actually get better eating more salt. This is just one of the many examples he gives for the apparent health paradox in medical dietary guideline thinking that when people eat more salt, they improve thier health.
He also reveals all the negative side-effects and health risks from eating a diet low in salt. One of the biggest risks being increased heart rate, which again, he shows with references how pro-low salt studies somehow conveniently leave out that data even when they did include heart rate testing.
When I finished this book I got the feeling of how badly we have been sold the myth that sprinkling salt on our food or cooking with salt will definitely cause high blood pressure. The fact is that the risk of complications from not ingesting enough salt everyday far outweigh the proposed main benefit of lowering salt intake.
This book has given me the freedom to realise how much more salt I need in my diet to thrive and not just survive. Especially the drinking coffee factor that is explained in the book.
I truly believe everyone should read this book who has ever been fearful of salt. This is so they can make an informed decision as if a low salt diet is best for them. I have a feeling a lot of people will question why they have been avoiding salt in the day to day lives after reading this book.
The book starts with a disclaimer: “This book contains general information and advice relating to the potential benefits of adding salt to your diet. It is not intended to replace personalized medical advice. As with any new diet regimen, the practices recommended in this book should be followed only after consulting with your doctor to make sure they are appropriate to your individual circumstances. The authors and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information in this book.”
I have just read Killer salt , a book from the 1970s, which made me think seriously about the levels of salt I was ingesting. However, I did not want to exist in my own echo chamber, so I read this book for balance. Now, as a medical civilian, I do not know what to think.
The Dr DiNicolantonio surveys the studies that led to advice that a high salt diet is risky. He finds most of these studies wanting. He also warns that it is risky to embark on a low sodium diet. There is also some history in the human use of salt and a pro-salt dietary advice, including recipes. There is also a considerable amount of non-technical medical discussion, which is manageable to a non-specialist. He considers sugar to be the real problem in diets, not just because of obesity but also because of its damaging effects to the internal workings of the body.
So I have now read two books on salt. One told me about the dire medical effects of salt. It encouraged me to move towards a lower or low sodium intake and provided information about low sodium foods and recipes. The other told me sodium is fine, sugar is the real problem. It warned me about the dangers of low sodium diets and provided salty recipes. It also provided a section comparing the pros and cons of various types of salt.
It's not hard to be persuaded by the arguments presented which are a mix of logic and evidence: Life began in the salty sea and we've evolved mechanisms to ensure that we can retain and process salt even though we've begun to see it as villain condiment.
James uses a lot of coulds, mights and maybes, but I don't blame him for that because the mountain of papers are anti-salt and what is pro-salt needs a boost in the quantity department (whereas the pro-salt is seriously lacking in quality). But, you come away won over that you need to be taking more salt than restricting it, unless you're a minority who has been extrapolated in studies.
The suggestions on types of salt to use and how to go about using them, and for what conditions and events are very useful.
I'm sure there will be many who will just look at the blurb of the book only and shake their heads without giving it a chance, but you have to remember that science has been corrupted by conflicts of interest and there are various scientific fallacies waiting to be axed (e.g. read Henry H. Bauer's 'Science Is Not What You Think').
The question that really sticks in my mind is how many people with high blood pressure are so because of salt deficiency?
I personally found the book useful as it contradicts the current orthodoxy about salt intake, and by following the general thrust of the book (and increasing my own intake) I have been able to control persistent dehydration that has plagued me since surgery some years ago (in short, the whole bowel was removed).
A good edit would improve the text. Deal with each issue fully and concisely, then move on. As published it rambles, returning to the same points again and again without ever quite settling them definitively. The 'Why the Experts Got it Wrong' theme needs to be dealt with separately from the role and mechanics of dietary salt. Worth reading (and re-reading).
Rarely do I find these books to be a real page-turner - but I was unable to put this book down! It is a readable, informative, exceptionally well-written, well-researched and eminently sensible book, written by an author who is not afraid to go out on a limb and has the courage to genuinely think for himself - instead of just slavishly following prevailing fashion.
I’ve seen dozens of diet trends and myths come and go over the years and frankly always ignored the low fat/low salt advice completely, since it was invariably dished out by those same ‘experts’ who were also advising that chemically-processed, unnatural and foul-tasting industrial fats such as margarine are what we should be eating to be healthy! If that were the case - then wouldn’t Nature surely have invented them and designed our bodies to use them – instead of the many delicious-tasting, natural ones now finally being scientifically proven to be far healthier?
Healthy food was meant to taste good! Sea salt and natural fats like butter add to food’s flavour and also help our bodies cells to absorb all of the nutrients it contains. Basic biology in school taught us that all life on earth evolved in the saline ocean – so naturally it’s therefore only common sense that our cells need salt to function. This book is full of common-sense that you don't have to be a scientist to understand. As the author himself puts it - “the similarity between the mineral content and concentration of our own blood and seawater has been known for decades”.
As someone who has always, as far as possible, followed the way that Nature evolved us to eat, I believe that eating natural, whole, organic ‘real’ food is the only way to true, long-term health. That being so, yet another aspect of this book that I found exceptional, and for me personally most engaging, is that unlike a great many doctors, this one clearly advocates organic food. The benefits of eating organic are often either ignored altogether by the medical profession, or even more astonishingly, discounted as being quite irrelevant. That’s usually the point when I when I stop reading their books - because how can you possibly presume to tell people how they should be eating when you don’t even understand what 'real food' is, how Nature meant us to eat, and seriously believe that we actually know better? Organic food is so often ridiculed by the media (heavily influenced by the misleading PR of the agri-chemical industry) as being either an elitist, hippy-like ‘celebrity fad’ or some kind of neurotic ‘orthorexia’, and sadly many doctors seem to accept this misinformation unquestioningly! This doctor doesn’t!
As a former organic farmer, now retired, who has for many years extensively researched the effects of pesticides and other chemicals, used either on or in food, I never eat anything that isn’t organic, so I found Dr DiNicolantonio’s open-minded, thoughtful approach in this book refreshing. After all – naturally-grown, whole, organic foods are quite simply what humans evolved to eat over millions of years! We did not evolve to eat food grown with the toxic cocktail of endocrine-disrupting, made-made chemicals that it has been laced with for well over 60 years now. Such chemicals were in many cases originally developed as nerve gas weapons during World War 2! Food is then later stuffed with even more synthetic chemicals by food manufacturers when processing it into high sugar, long shelf-life, ‘convenience’ foods! Convenient for high profits – but not for our health! It’s surely no coincidence that the alarming rise in so many chronic diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes seems to directly correlate with the seriously misleading dietary advice dished out over the last 60+ years.
I wish I’d had this book 4 years ago when my son and I started following strict, low-carbohydrate diets, after both having serious accidents which made it impossible for either of us to exercise for several months. I lost 2 stones almost without trying and my 6ft 4 ins son lost 4! There is excellent information in this book on the damaging effects of the many different types of sugar - and also how to deal with problems such as the muscle cramps that we both encountered initially, especially when exercising vigorously while eating a very low-carb diet. Dr DiNicolantonio explains how easy it is to avoid these - simply by eating enough salt!
My son also spent several weeks recovering in an orthopaedic ward after major surgery, and was extremely shocked to see the heart-breaking number of diabetic amputees whose suffering could have been completely avoided simply by avoiding all forms of sugar, including alcohol. I would thoroughly recommend this book not just to anyone trying to cut carbohydrates but also to anyone cooking for schools and hospitals etc. or trying to generally improve public health. From my experience, most hospital diets seem mainly consist of high-carbohydrate, cheap, processed foods such as white sliced bread and high-sugar ready meals prepared in bulk by outside caterers in order to keep budgets down. Hospital shops and vending machines are also full of junk food like chocolate bars, crisps and cans of high sugar sodas. Often the only healthy item one can find is plain bottled water!. It is frustrating that condoning and encouraging patients to eat that kind of rubbish, instead of healthy real food, not only delays their healing but also does nothing to re-educate those eating habits which in many cases often caused their illness in the first place, and ultimately costs health services even more money in the long run!
Thank heavens for the sake of future public health that the era of all doctors and dieticians unquestioningly accepting industry-sponsored dogma seems at last to be disappearing! Science and health knowledge can only move forward and improve if current accepted norms are constantly being questioned. This thought-provoking, ground-breaking book does it in spades. I heartily recommend 'The Salt Fix' as essential reading for anyone who wants to know the definitive truth about salt and to improve their overall health. In years to come, I believe that Dr. DiNicolantonio's brilliant book will be seen as having been a real game-changer.