Thursday, August 31, 2017

You need more salt! Yes, you! Yes, MORE salt!

I had a whole blog post planned about this article I came across about how osteoarthritis (not the autoimmune kind) is more prevalent now than it was in the 1950s even when correcting for age, activity, and weight. We have been under the impression that osteoarthritis was simply your joints wearing out from normal wear and tear and that it was inevitable as you age, and if you were overweight it would happen faster. But that's not true. Near the end of the one of the authors was quoted saying "There may be dietary factors that may be important..."

I was getting ready to do a whole snarky blog post about them saying diet may be important. You mean what you put into your body matters? No way. It's okay for me to put 95 octane premium fuel in my car, but all I need to eat is packaged processed food from the grocery store. But before I got to it, I listened to an interview with the author of The Salt Fix (a review on that book was the catalyst to my last salt blog post) and everything came together: one more example of the nation ruining our health because of a puritanical "low-" diet. Low-fat, Low-salt,'s all wrong, and we're suckers for it because we think that depriving ourselves will make us better people.

Before I dig into the meat of this, let me start by saying that a low salt diet does not change blood pressure or prevent heart disease. There was one study that showed by a proxy measurement that lowering salt may have an effect on blood pressure and that's the one that stuck. Everything else that followed it showed negligible effects. In fact, the author mentions that you may get a 1-5% decrease in blood pressure and blood volume from a highly restrictive low-salt diet, but your heart has to pump 15-20% faster to still deliver your blood, and when you go through the math the forces on your arteries are actually higher! I know I sound like a kook here, but folks are just now starting to come around on the whole fat story and that took me a long time of sounding crazy - I guess it's time to sound crazy about something else.

So how does this all tie into arthritis and osteoporosis? It's just like how a water softener works but in reverse. Hard water is water that has lots of calcium and magnesium in it. A water softener works by swapping the calcium and magnesium in the water with sodium ions (that's why you fill a water softener with salt). Minerals don't care too much about what metal ions their bound to. A calcium or magnesium cation is as good as a couple sodium cations. We like how sodium-based minerals create suds, so we actively swap them in for the calcium or magnesium cations. It doesn't happen spontaneously; we have to expend energy to do that selection.

Sodium is absolutely critical for your body to function correctly. That's why we are evolutionary programmed to seek and eat salt. Your body will do just about anything it can to keep your sodium concentration where it needs to be. If you're eating a low salt diet, or if you're very active, or if you're both (you know, the kind of health-conscious people who eat right and exercise), you will be losing salt.

So where does your body get the salt that is must have to function? The biggest mineral source available - your bones. Our biochemistry can't be as selective as a water softener, it's impossible to selectively pull out the sodium ions, so you pull out all of the minerals from your bones and throw away what you don't use. That is, if you eat a low salt diet and/or have a high salt loss rate (exercise) your body will dissolve (demineralize) your bones to get enough sodium to keep you alive.

So why is arthritis on the rise (and the need for all of those new hips and knees that you're seeing)? It's not wear and tear - it's the low salt diet causing your body to consume itself to stay alive. It's also the fact that we don't eat whole animal anymore and get the good building blocks, but that's got to be a second order effect when compared to active demineralization.

And that's just one part of the story about salt.


row 500 / run 400
crawling lunge
10 KB swings or snatches
double KB overhead lunge
10 TGUs or windmills
10 goblet squats
5 pull-ups or push-ups or dips


power snatch 3-2-4x2


5 push-ups between strength sets

Group Workout

8 rounds with a barbell at a moderate weight:
power snatch
overhead squat
behind the neck push press
weakest lift governs weight 


20 partial pull over with PVC


Sign up for classes

Strength Metrics

Get Xero Shoes