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WalkerSpeak: Is That Salt Habit Making You Happy?

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Salt freaks tend not to flaunt their addiction. There are no salt bars, no underground salt trafficking, no salt parlors (unless you count your basic fast food restaurants).

But, we’re out there.  We’re those who become anxious when seated at a table in a restaurant that doesn’t set out salt shakers (though some of us always carry an emergency supply).

We’re the ones people buy antique salt cellars and fancy colored salts in nifty little canisters for at Christmas. We generally like savory food rather than sweet. For us, a good, salty kosher dill pickle is usually more welcome than a big slice of gooey cake.

We’ve been told it’s a habit, and not a healthy one. But, it turns out there may be something at work besides simple habit.

If you have been reading your health and science news over the past 10 months or so, you might have come across articles about research that suggests salt might be addictive partly because it acts as an antidepressant.

From an article in Medical News Today:  “University of Iowa psychologist Kim Johnson and colleagues found in their research that when rats are deficient in sodium chloride, common table salt, they shy away from activities they normally enjoy, like drinking a sugary substance or pressing a bar that stimulates a pleasant sensation in their brains.”

The article does go on to assert, as it should, that salt, in excess, has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure and other diseases. The salt habit becomes an addiction when one doesn’t stop using his drug even though it is obviously playing havoc with his health and his doctor has told him to quit.

First, if salt is an antidepressant, Americans should be a happy lot. Our food, especially processed food and restaurant food, is noted for its high sodium content. But, travel on any expressway in San Antonio during high traffic times and you’ll encounter a whole lot of people who could use a salt pill.

In my family, high salt consumption stretches back decades before pizza and taco stands had sprung up on every street corner.  An uncle of my grandmother’s, Charlie Tesky, was said to have eaten an enormous amount of salt on his food most of his life. Soon after a doctor put him on a no-salt diet, he died of “unknown” causes. My bet is he didn’t die happy, either.

Our parents should never have told us that story because my sister and I grabbed it like an empty lifeboat on a stormy sea and never let go. The message was: You give up your salt, you die.

But, this is just anecdotal evidence.  If my doctor tells me to cut out the salt someday, I’ll probably give it a try. But until then, this is one vice I’m keeping. It’s just too depressing to think about giving it up.

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One Response to “WalkerSpeak: Is That Salt Habit Making You Happy?”

  1. mlw says:

    ha – they’ll take my salt shaker away from me when they pry it from my cold, dead hands. Seriously – it seems to me from what I’ve read, that salt is only a negative factor if you already have HBP, or a predilection for HBP. I could be indulgin in wishful think, though…