Frequently adding salt to food linked to increased type 2 diabetes risk

A new study has found that frequently adding salt to food can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 39%. The researchers recommend hiding the saltshaker or replacing it with low-sodium alternatives.

The risk factors for type 2 diabetes (T2D) are well-known: age, overweight or obesity, physical inactivity, prediabetes, and a family history of the disease. While those at risk of developing T2D are told to avoid sugar, a new study suggests they need to cut out salt as well.

In a recent study, researchers from Tulane University in the US found that frequently adding salt to food was associated with an increased risk of developing T2D.

“We already know that limiting salt can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and hypertension, but this study shows for the first time that taking the saltshaker off the table can help prevent type 2 diabetes as well,” said Lu Qi, corresponding author of the study.

The researchers analyzed UK Biobank data from 402,982 participants without diabetes, chronic kidney disease, cancer, or cardiovascular disease at baseline. Participants also provided information about adding salt to their food.

Over a median follow-up period of 11.9 years, 13,120 participants were diagnosed with T2D. Compared with participants who “never/rarely” added salt to their food, participants who “sometimes”, “usually”, or “always” added salt had a respective 13%, 20% and 39% higher risk of developing T2D.

While the reasons why salt intake appears to affect T2D risk are still to be explored, the researchers suggest that salt encourages people to eat larger portions, increasing the chances of developing risk factors such as obesity and inflammation. The study found an association between frequent salt consumption and higher body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-hip ratio.

The researchers plan to conduct a clinical trial controlling the participants’ salt intake and observing the effects. In the meantime, they recommend reducing salt intake or seasoning food using low-sodium alternatives.

“It’s not a difficult change to make, but it could have a tremendous impact on your health,” Qi said.

The study was published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Source: Tulane University

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