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Salt, Water, and Migraines

By Lucy Rose Clinic

December 3, 2020

If you are drinking more water but getting headaches or bloating, maybe you need salt.

Or maybe you are having too much processed salt.

Today we are looking at the role of salt and water play in our body, and how they can drive migraines.

But Salt is BAD, isn’t it?

The salt myth was disproven in 2005 and a number of studies since then have found that restricting salt does not lower the risk of heart attack, strokes, or death in people with normal or high blood pressure.

In fact, Dr. Brownstein states, ‘Early in my medical career, I accepted the “low salt = lowered blood pressure” hypothesis unquestionably … until … I began to study the medical literature about salt. What I found was astounding; there is little data to support low-salt diets being effective at treating hypertension for the vast majority of people. Also, none of the studies looked at the use of unrefined salt, which contains many valuable vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium and potassium, which are vital to maintaining normal blood pressure.”

Junk food has more sodium than natural food and could be to blame for the increased risk of cardiovascular death in a high-sodium diet. Processed foods could also be partially to blame for the increased risk of death from a low-sodium diet.

Refined sodium in packaged foods and white salts have too much chloride and prevents absorption of other minerals. It is essential to comb through your cupboards weeding out processed foods, and pseudo-health foods that contain these.

Why We Need Salt

Our body contains around 70% water, this is in the form of saline solution, not plain water, therefore ensuring our body not only has adequate amounts of water but also salt improves its functioning.

Salt is usually found in adequate amounts in vegetables and meats however due to poor Australian soil quality, washing, processing, the addition of pesticides, and other chemicals this is greatly reduced. This leads to the necessity to supplement with unprocessed mineral salts, with the pink Himalayan and grey Celtic having the best balance of electrolytes/minerals; processed salt should never be used in the diet and can be toxic. 

Many hypothyroidism patients are deficient in sodium – a fact we see daily in our clinic.

Migraine sufferers are 3.5 times as likely to have hypothyroidism, adding another need for correct salt intake.

Some Benefits of Salt

  • Salt helps with detoxification of Bromide, Fluoride and Chloride from the Thyroid gland and human tissue, enabling absorption of Iodine thus thyroid hormone production and utilisation. 
  • Improves cell’s ability to uptake water into their intracellular environment where it is needed. Without adequate levels of salt in the diet water tends to sit in the extracellular environment (outside cells) leading to ‘fluid retention’ and increased urination with water intake.
  • Allows cells to detoxify intracellular waste. Cells are mini-factories that make energy and other essential chemicals to run your body and there are by-products that need to be efficiently removed, salt improves osmolality and enables more efficient detoxification.
  • Improves nutrient uptake by cells. Due to improved osmolality, the cell can allow nutrients more in easily enabling it to function more efficiently, this improves energy levels and general functioning of the whole body.
  • Adequate salt and spring water enable the electrical systems within the body to operate efficiently, salt is an electrolyte meaning it conducts electricity, the heart, nervous system, and brain require a saline solution to function.
  • Salt can reduce symptoms of adrenal fatigue and stress. Stress causes a drop in aldosterone production by the adrenal glands. This mineralocorticoid tells the kidneys to reabsorb sodium that passes through them, increasing the amount held in the body. This action helps control the amount of water held in the body, as sodium osmotically holds fluid in the space outside of cells. 

Salt and Migraine

A study from 2015 found that 99.5 percent of 650 participants became migraine free after increasing sodium and decreasing carbohydrates in the diet.

Research as far back as the 1950s shows that migraineurs have an imbalance of sodium.

Today, a number of anti-seizure and antidepressant medications that regulate sodium channels are used to prevent migraines (research link, study link).

Adequate salt intake could naturally regulate sodium channels as a drug free alternative.

Stress is the top trigger for migraine, and stress uses salt in our body, meaning that people under stress have a higher need for salt intake.

Which Salt is Best?

The type of salt used is important. The recommendation is unrefined salt such as Himalayan Salt or Celtic Sea Salt. Iodized salt can contain ferrocyanide, byproducts of chlorine, and aluminum in the form of Sodium Silicoaluminate which is used as an anti-caking agent. Also, the refined salts with iodine chemically added have been shown to be poorly absorbed in the gut, it is not a good dietary source of the nutrient. Raw or natural salts contain electrolytes that are naturally occurring in the right ratios. 

Caveats

Around 5% of the population will have a negative response to salt, so do not add more to your diet without checking with your doctor – especially if you are on medications, have Meniere’s disease or high blood pressure that worsens with salt.

In this case, book an appointment with us and we can guide you to better health whilst working alongside your doctors recommendations and treatments.

How Much Salt?

This is impossible to answer in an article, because people have a different need for a variety of factors.

One study found the lowest risk of cardiovascular death was from people excreting between 3000 milligrams and 7000 milligrams of sodium per day.

Other studies suggest that between 6.25 and 15 grams of salt per day.

Your need for salt will depend on your specific health, the foods you eat, the amount you exercise, your stress levels, migraines frequency, and a number of other factors.

Fortunately, the human body will crave salt when we are deficient and we lose that preference for salt when we have a surplus of sodium in our blood stream. This is why many health experts recommend salting to taste.

Get professional guidance. Work with Lucy Rose practitioner, discover your individual salt and mineral requirements, and start a journey to better health!

Book your FREE consultation.

 

References and study links:

Salt and Water Balance in Migraine (nih.gov)

Water, Hydration and Health (nih.gov)

Severe Headache or Migraine History is Inversely Correlated With Dietary Sodium Intake: NHANES 1999-2004 – PubMed (nih.gov)

Salt and Water Balance in Migraine (nih.gov)

Inhibition of neuronal Na+ channels by antidepressant drugs – PubMed (nih.gov)

The Controversies of Hyponatraemia in Hypothyroidism (nih.gov)

The comorbidity between migraine and hypothyroidism (nih.gov)

What turns on a migraine? A systematic review of migraine precipitating factors – PubMed (nih.gov)

Urinary Sodium and Potassium Excretion and Risk of Cardiovascular Events | Acute Coronary Syndromes | JAMA | JAMA Network

Dietary Sodium Intake and Cardiovascular Mortality: Controversy Resolved? | American Journal of Hypertension | Oxford Academic (oup.com)

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