High salt consumption appears to significantly increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Conversely, avoiding salt could also help prevent diabetes.
A research team led by Dr. In a new study, Lu Qi from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine was able to establish a connection between frequent salt consumption and type 2 diabetes for the first time. The study results are published in the specialist magazine “Mayo Clinic Proceedings”.
Diet and the risk of diabetes
The fact that type 2 diabetes is closely related to diet has been proven by numerous studies, although to date, excessive sugar intake has been considered a major risk factor.
Excessive salt intake, on the other hand, has been associated in previous research with an increased risk of high blood pressure. It has also been shown that reducing salt can have a strong blood pressure-lowering effect.
Study with more than 400,000 participants
The researchers have now examined the extent to which type 2 diabetes is also related to salt intake using data from over 400,000 adults from the UK Biobank.
At the start of the study, all participants did not suffer from diabetes, chronic kidney disease, cancer or cardiovascular disease and had provided information about how often they added salt to their food. According to the researchers, more than 13,120 participants developed diabetes during a mean follow-up period of almost 12 years.
Significantly increased risk of diabetes
The data analysis showed that participants who “sometimes”, “usually” or “always” salted their food were significantly more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than participants who “never” or “rarely” used salt the researchers.
With increasing salt intake, a continuous increase in the risk was observed. Those who “sometimes” used salt showed a 13 percent increased risk. If the food was “usually” salted, the risk was 20 percent higher, and if salt was “always” used, the risk increased by 39 percent.
Avoid salt to prevent diabetes
“We already know that limiting salt consumption can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure, but this study shows for the first time that skipping the salt shaker can also help prevent type 2 diabetes,” concludes Dr. Qi together.
More studies are now needed to determine why high salt consumption may be associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. The researchers suspect that salt encourages people to eat larger portions, which can lead to obesity and inflammation, which in turn are risk factors for diabetes.
This is supported by the fact that the study also demonstrated a connection between frequent salt consumption and a higher body mass index (BMI) and a higher waist-hip ratio.
Salt reduction is easy to implement
In principle, it can’t hurt to look for low-sodium alternatives to season dishes and limit your salt consumption. Because it’s not difficult to change something here, and “it could have an enormous impact on your health,” summarizes Dr. Qi. (fp)