NEW ORLEANS, La. — Bland may be better when it comes to your health. People who always add salt to their food increase their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by nearly 40 percent, new research warns.
Studies continue to show that excessive sugar intake is bad for your health, but researchers say this is the first time that salt has displayed a link to the condition. Researchers from Tulane University believe that adding salt encourages you to eat more which in turn leads to obesity and the likelihood of Type 2 diabetes onset.
Currently, there are more than 37 million people who have diabetes in the United States. Over 90 percent of these cases are Type 2 diabetes, which is heavily related to a patient’s lifestyle, according to the CDC.
The team at Tulane used data from the UK Biobank for their research. They followed 400,000 people over an average span of 11.8 years, revealing more than 13,000 diagnoses of Type 2 diabetes during that period.
Compared to those who “never” or “rarely” used salt, participants who “sometimes,” “usually,” or “always” added salt had a 13, 20, and 39-percent higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, respectively.
“We already know that limiting salt can reduce the risk of 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,” says lead author Dr. Lu Qi, HCA Regents Distinguished Chair and professor at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, in a media release.
The study, published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, found an association between frequent consumption of salt and higher BMI and waist-to-hip ratio. Prof. Qi believes it is not the salt that causes the condition but the fact that using it encourages people to eat larger portions — leading to weight gain and inflammation.
Qi notes that the next step is to conduct a clinical trial controlling the amount of salt participants consume and observing the effects.
“It’s not a difficult change to make, but it could have a tremendous impact on your health,” Qi concludes.
Why is Type 2 Diabetes so dangerous for your health?
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. When you have Type 2 diabetes, your body’s cells become resistant to insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels. As a result, glucose (sugar) builds up in your blood.
Over time, high blood sugar can damage your nerves, blood vessels, and organs. This can lead to a number of serious health complications, including:
- Heart disease and stroke: Type 2 diabetes is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease and stroke. People with Type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to have a heart attack as people without diabetes.
- Kidney disease: Type 2 diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure. High blood sugar can damage the tiny blood vessels in the kidneys, making it difficult for them to filter waste from the blood.
- Eye problems: Type 2 diabetes can lead to a number of eye problems, including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts. Diabetic retinopathy is a common cause of blindness in adults.
- Neuropathy: Type 2 diabetes can damage the nerves in your body, leading to numbness, pain, and tingling in your hands and feet. Neuropathy can also lead to foot problems, such as ulcers and infections.
In addition to these serious health complications, Type 2 diabetes can also make it difficult to control other chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
South West News Service writer Jim Leffman contributed to this report.