Hello My Friends
Welcome To The Vitality Project!
Yesterday I wrote an article regarding the effects of sodium upon blood pressure and the recommended limits for the consumption of salt in our diet.
For decades excessive sodium consumption has been tagged as the real and mostly preventable culprit behind the continual increased incidence of hypertension. There is no doubt that high blood pressure is a major risk factor in the development of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
However, most if not all the sodium consumed in the human diet is from processed foods including fast food, some restaurant food, canned and frozen foods. Now although excess sodium does increase blood pressure in some people, the consumption of refined carbohydrates including high fructose corn syrup contained within processed foods may be a greater contributor to hypertension and the increased risk of chronic diseases.
Since the intake of processed foods including fast foods and snack foods has rapidly increased over the last several decades, there has been a direct increase in the development of heart disease, obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Although sodium has been blamed for this trend, recent research has indicated that the amount of refined carbohydrates consumed in processed foods is much more closely linked to the increase in insulin resistance and hypertension associated with high insulin levels.
The problem was that the consumption of these processed foods could cause increases in blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen demand but also increase inflammation, blood clotting and changes in liver cholesterol regulation. The real risk here may not be the salt you eat from the pizza but from the refined carbohydrates in the sauce and dough.
Certainly, it has been previously established in the late 1960’s that the consumption of refined carbohydrates like concentrated fructose could increase blood pressure although the exact mechanism was not clearly understood.
Now of course this mechanism is widely understood…it’s called hyperinsulinemia caused directly from continual spikes in blood sugar and the resultant insulin resistance that develops. High insulin levels directly cause high blood pressure and this finding is one of the earliest clinical features of the pre-diabetic state known as the metabolic syndrome.
Certainly, most people consume too much salt and in some people this can cause increases in blood pressure. However, newer research is also indicated that the wider and more far-reaching health concerns surrounding obesity, heart disease and diabetes are more accurately traced to the consumption of refined carbohydrates found in the large amounts of processed foods people (especially younger people) continually consume.
If anything the consumption of sodium has been over-emphasized with the consumption of refined sugars including fructose ignored and purposely under-played.
Although there are governmental recommendations made for total sodium intake and in some cases sugar intake, no such details are given for fructose.
I suspect that the sugar lobby is behind this. Given the fact that greater decreases in blood pressure have been clinically demonstrated with reductions in sugar intake as opposed to sodium…one has to wonder.
Incidentally, in those folks who consume at least 25% of their total daily caloric load from added sugar have a 3 fold increase risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. This risk is much greater than those associated with increased sodium consumption.
Dr. Kevin. J. McLaughlin
Clinical Director: The Vitality Project