As more and more people adopt the Paleo Diet, controversy has arisen as to which dietary elements actually comprise a contemporary “Paleo Diet”. Or more precisely, which current foods, food groups or food additives should be included or excluded in modern day diets as we try to emulate the nutritional characteristics of our pre-agricultural ancestors?
A number of popular-day and charismatic bloggers suggest that processed meats such as bacon and other cured, processed and smoked meats should be part of contemporary Paleo Diets on a daily basis (1-3).
Surprisingly, one of the contested elements that charismatic bloggers advocate (via their recommendation to eat processed meats and bacon) is salt (1-3). Look no further than Paleo Diet websites, blogs and cookbooks (1-3, 4-8) to find salt included in virtually all meal plans, menus and dietary recommendations given to the Paleo Diet community by so-called “experts” consisting of charismatic bloggers (1-3) and non-scientific authors (1-3, 4-8).
One of the primary sources of salt in the U.S. Diet comes from processed meats (9). I have previously spoken about the multitude of health problems associated with salt consumption. Please review my blogs showing the harmful effects of salt (10-16).
It is inconceivable how any rational person, much less leaders (1-3) in the Paleo Diet community could advocate the use of salt laden processed meats in contemporary Paleo Diets. High sodium diets are unequivocally recognized to promote high blood pressure, stroke and cardiovascular disease (9, 17-19). Further, more recent research shows that high salt diets increase the likelihood of autoimmune disease (20-23), immune dysfunction (24-29) and create a cellular environment that encourages cancer growth of all types (30-35).
Listed below is a table of the salt content (both Na+ and K+ concentrations) of processed meats and their fresh unsalted counterparts. A potassium (K+) concentration greater than a Na+ (sodium) concentration of (>1.00) is healthful of which no processed meats exhibit, including bacon. Without being a nutritional scientist, you can see for yourself from the table below, that virtually all processed, cured and smoked meats represent a hazardous food which far exceed the human daily recommendation for sodium of 2300 mg (9, 17-19).
|Cured Meats||Na+ mg/1000 kcal||K+ mg/1000 kcal||K+/Na+|
|Smoked Beef Sliced||10166||2387||0.23|
|Beef Lunch Meat||9547||2632||0.28|
|Canadian Bacon, cured||8975||2191||0.24|
|Smoked Ham Sliced||8472||2086||0.25|
|Turkey Salami Cotto||7072||1477||0.21|
|Smoked Turkey Sliced||6850||2056||0.30|
|Beef Cotto Salami||6354||1006||0.16|
|Smoked Chicken Sliced||5782||1552||0.27|
|Chicken Lunch Meat||5554||920||0.17|
|Salami Dry Sausage||5221||982||0.19|
|Turkey Drumstick smoked||4980||1400||0.28|
|Turkey Wing smoked||4507||1204||0.27|
|Ham Lunch Meat||4222||1298||0.31|
|Hot Dog Wiener||3759||524||0.14|
|Smokie links sausage Oscar Mayer||3334||596||0.18|
|Chicken wings Barbequed||2915||900||0.31|
|Pork link sausage||2694||1573||0.58|
|Turkey link sausage||2489||974||0.39|
|Salt Pork, cured||1904||88||0.05|
|Pate de Foie Gras||1509||299||0.20|
|Goose liver pate, smoked||1509||299||0.20|
|Fresh, Unsalted Meats||Na+ mg/1000 kcal||K+ mg/1000 kcal||K+/Na+|
|Fresh, unsalted lamb loin||272||1430||5.25|
|Fresh, unsalted Beef Sirloin||324||1954||6.04|
|Fresh, unsalted Pork Sirloin||275||1778||6.47|
Although, virtually all non-scientific, Paleo Diet bloggers (1-3, 4-8) advocate the use of added, mined salt to their recipes, menus and meals, there is absolutely no evolutionary data to support this viewpoint (36-39).
Indeed, the best available evidence supports the notion that elevated salt intake is directly responsible for increased risk of high blood pressure, stroke and cardiovascular disease (9, 17-19), increased risk for autoimmune disease (20-23), increased risk for immune dysfunction (24-29) and increased risk for cancer (30-35). This information is perhaps the most important issue where the Paleo Diet community is lost, confused and in error via the misinformation provided by non-scientific, ill-informed Paleo Diet Blogger (1-3, 4-8).
9.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Vital signs: food categories contributing the most to sodium consumption – United States, 2007-2008. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2012 Feb 10;61(5):92-8.
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19.He FJ, Li J, Macgregor GA. Effect of longer-term modest salt reduction on blood pressure. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Apr 30;(4):CD004937
20.Wu C, Yosef N, Thalhamer T, Zhu C, Xiao S, Kishi Y, Regev A, Kuchroo VK. Induction of pathogenic TH17 cells by inducible salt-sensing kinase SGK1. Nature. 2013 Apr 25;496(7446):513-7.
21.Kleinewietfeld M, Manzel A, Titze J, Kvakan H, Yosef N, Linker RA, Muller DN, Hafler DA. Sodium chloride drives autoimmune disease by the induction of pathogenic TH17 cells. Nature. 2013 Apr 25;496(7446):518-22
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27.Zhou X, Zhang L, Ji WJ, Yuan F, Guo ZZ, Pang B, Luo T, Liu X, Zhang WC, Jiang TM, Zhang Z, Li YM. Variation in dietary salt intake induces coordinated dynamics of monocyte subsets and monocyte-platelet aggregates in humans: implications in end organ inflammation. PLoS One. 2013 Apr 4;8(4):e60332.
28.Zhou X, Yuan F, Ji WJ, Guo ZZ, Zhang L, Lu RY, Liu X, Liu HM, Zhang WC, Jiang TM, Zhang Z, Li YM. High-salt intake induced visceral adipose tissue hypoxia and its association with circulating monocyte subsets in humans. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2014 Jun;22(6):1470-6.
29.Min B, Fairchild RL. Over-salting ruins the balance of the immune menu. J Clin Invest. 2015 Nov 2;125(11):4002-4.
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31.Amara S, Alotaibi D, Tiriveedhi V. NFAT5/STAT3 interaction mediates synergism of high salt with IL-17 towards induction of VEGF-A expression in breast cancer cells. Oncol Lett. 2016 Aug;12(2):933-943
32.Amara S, Zheng M, Tiriveedhi V. Oleanolic acid inhibits high salt-induced exaggeration of warburg-like metabolism in breast cancer cells. Cell Biochem Biophys. 2016 Sep;74(3):427-34.
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