We could say that the modern diet is “guilty” because of microwave meals, takeaways and processed food. All these foods increase autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, like asthma, alopecia and eczema. The University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, in Germany and a great team of researchers and scientists from Yale University in the U.S and say junk food diets could be partly “quilty”.
This is the first study that actually indicates that excess processed and refined salt may be one of the environmental factors that increase autoimmune diseases. Processed food at many grocery shops and junk foods at fast food restaurants represent in fact the largest sources of sodium intake from processed and refined salts. The Canadian Medical Association Journal sent out an international team of researchers to compare the salt content of 2,124 items from fast food establishments such as:
- Domino’s Pizza,
- Burger King,
- Kentucky Fried Chicken,
- Pizza Hut and
They found shocking results! The average salt content actually varied between companies and between the same products sold in different countries. U.S. fast food and processed food contain salt more than twice as those of other countries. In many countries, government-led public health legislation and campaigns efforts have reduced refined salt levels. The U.S. government has been reluctant to press the issue. Norm Campbell, M.D., says “That’s left fast-food companies free to go salt crazy”. He is one of the study authors and a blood-pressure specialist at the University of Calgary. Many low-fat foods rely on salt. One packet of KFC’s Marzetti Light Italian Dressing might only have0.5 grams fat and 15 calories, but it has 510 mg sodium. That is around 1.5 times as much as one Original Recipe chicken drumstick.
Number ONE source of refined salt consumption in the American diet is the bread, according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control. Just the brad if one 6-inch Roasted Garlic loaf from Subway has 1,260 mg sodium. It is as much as 14 strips of bacon. And that is without the meat, no cheese…
How Refined Salt in Processed Food Can Cause Autoimmune Disease
The Yale University team studied the role of T helper cells in our body. These activate and ‘help’ other cells to fight dangerous pathogens such as bacteria or viruses and battle infections.
Previous research suggests that a subset of these cells – known as Th17 cells – also play an important role in the development of autoimmune diseases. In the latest study, scientists discovered that exposing these cells in a lab to a table salt solution made them act more ‘aggressively.’
They found that mice fed a diet high in refined salts saw a dramatic increase in the number of Th17 cells in their nervous systems that promoted inflammation. They were also more likely to develop a severe form of a disease connected to multiple sclerosis in humans.
The scientists then conducted a closer examination of these effects at a molecular level. Laboratory tests revealed that salt exposure increased the levels of cytokines released by Th17 cells 10 times more than usual. Cytokines are proteins used to pass messages between cells.
The co-author of one study Ralf Linker, from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, said:
‘These findings are an important contribution to understand the multiple sclerosis.
They may offer new targets for a better treatment of the disease, for which unfortunately, at present there is no cure.’ It develops when the immune system mistakes the myelin that surrounds the nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord for a foreign body.
It strips the myelin off the nerves fibres, which disrupts messages passed between the brain and body causing problems with vision, speech and balance. Professor David Hafler, another author of the study, from Yale University, said that nature had clearly not intended for the immune system to attack its host body. Therefore, he expected that an external factor was playing a part.
These are no diseases caused by the environment or diseases of bad genes alone. Those are diseases of a bad interaction between environment and genes. Humans were genetically selected for conditions in sub-Saharan Africa, where there was no salt. It’s one of the reasons that having a particular gene may make African Americans much more sensitive to salt.
‘Today, all Western diets have very high salt content. That increases hypertension and probably autoimmune disease as well.
‘ The next plan of the team is to study the role that Th17 cells play in autoimmune conditions that affect the skin.
‘It would be interesting to find out if patients with psoriasis can alleviate their symptoms by reducing their salt intake. ‘However, the development of autoimmune diseases is a very complex process which depends on many environmental and genetic factors.’
Choose Good Salts
Processed, refined and bleached salts are the problem. Processed food contains these types of salt. Salt is the most readily available nonmetallic mineral in the world. Processed refined sodium chloride has no nutritional value and our bodies are not used to that. However, when a salt is filled with dozens of minerals such as in grey texture of Celtic salt or rose-coloured crystals of Himalayan rock salt, our bodies have benefits from them. We have salty perspiration and salty tears. The mineral and chemical composition of our blood and body fluids are similar to sea water.
As unborn babies, from the beginning of life, we are encased in a sack of salty fluid.” “In water, salt dissolves into mineral ions,” explains Dr Hendel. “These conduct electrical nerve impulses that drive muscle movement and thought processes. Just the simple act of drinking a glass of water requires millions of instructions that come from mineral ions.
We also need them to balance PH levels in our body.
Mineral salts are healthy because they give our body the variety of mineral ions. We need those ions in order to balance its functions and stay healthy.