I was watching The Late Show with Stephen Colbert when he mentioned in his monologue how NYC was going to start putting warning labels on their food. This instantly caught my attention. Just when I thought we might be getting somewhere I heard that the warning label would appear for products with high sodium content. Not processed sugar, but salt. The growing epidemic of diabetes and obesity is directly related to the ridiculous amount of processed sugar we consume. Salt is only dangerous for a niche group of people that need to quickly reduce their blood volume in order to reduce blood pressure acutely, or individuals that need to restrict water retention. Here is the kicker, the reason that many of these individuals are in poor health in which they need to restrict sodium in linked to a poor diet over the course of their lives in which they have consumed entirely too much processed carbohydrates (sugar), and has absolutely nothing to do with sodium. Sodium is an ion, and the purpose of restricting pertains to the fact that the body is one big ongoing chemical reaction, and sodium pulls more water into the blood stream causing a higher blood volume. This is only dangerous for individuals who already have high blood pressure, and in which blood volume has to be decreased ASAP.
The whole reason that a lower sodium diet was recommended decades ago as part of a healthy nutrition plan was based on false logic. Because reduced sodium diets were recommended for individuals with dangerously high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and certain edema conditions they then made the determination that EVERYONE should be on a reduced sodium diet. This makes absolutely no sense. That is like saying that someone in a green shirt got into a car accident so therefore nobody should wear green shirts because they cause car accidents. In addition most people on a low sodium diet are also on a fluid restriction. So by the same logic used to recommend a low sodium diet to everyone, then everyone should stop drinking water?
Now of course everyone would agree that is absurd and drinking more water could be the single best thing more people could do to improve their overall health. So then why can’t we see that sodium is no different? Food companies have capitalized on this over the years and have labeled crappy processed food as health foods simply because they are low in sodium. This does nothing but add to the existing problem because individuals not highly educated in nutrition are eating products like this because they believe it is a good food choice…
I am in complete agreement that warning labels should be implemented to help individuals who may not be well educated in nutritional science make better decisions. Food companies are pretty much allowed to label their foods however they want which has led to a slew of crappy processed food being thought of as “healthy.”
Many of these foods contain levels of processed sugars and other chemicals that can be as dangerous as any controlled substance on the market. Warning labels are an excellent idea to help keep these food companies in check.
With that being said salt should be the least of our worries. First off there is already a daily recommendation for salt listed on the nutritional label. Second of all salt should only be restricted for a very niche percentage of the population in which blood volume and fluid retention could exacerbate the symptoms of someone with dangerously high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, or edema. A typical healthy person should not be concerned with too much sodium; in fact most active individuals are not getting enough sodium which could lead to many other health consequences. Sodium is a valuable mineral needed for health and vitality.
Sugar on the other hand has no daily recommendation listed on nutritional labels on food. This is due to the sugar lobby giving large amounts to money to politicians and a few doctors to keep it that way. The jury about sugar has been out for a long time, and the dangers of high amounts of processed sugars have been well documented in science proving it to be as dangerous and addictive as heroin.
Seen on this label, it is clearly stated that 75 mg of sodium is 3% of your total intake for the day. However sugar as no percentage associated with it. If there was 95% next to those 26 grams of sugar people might think twice about eating whatever this is. I can’t tell you how many people are scared to death of sodium for no reason but have no hang-ups downing something with 20 grams of processed sugar in it.
So my question is why? Why are we so quick to demonize salt when the real enemy is standing in front of us with a gun pointed to out head. My only assumption is that the salt lobby is not nearly as powerful as the sugar lobby.
If we are going to start taking the obesity and diabetes epidemic seriously we need to start making real changes in education and how we regulate food companies. The correct information is out there and it is time to start applying hard science to how we make food choices. There is entirely too many poor choices easily available and the average person is not educated enough to fight through the marketing bull fed to us. If we do not seriously start working towards fixing this dynamic then this issue could very well be the single biggest threat affecting our country. Obesity and diabetes currently account for 25-30 percent of our total healthcare costs. This number is predicted to go up and further strain out fragile economy. We are headed down a very dangerous road, and instead of dedicating our valuable resources towards processed sugars and processed trans-fatty acids we are wasting time with salt.