Restore physiological aversion to excess salt, a solution against hypertension?


Tension, a key component of metabolic health

Like other metabolic disorders, hypertension is caused by non-modifiable factors including age, family history, genetic makeup. But when it is not essential, it is mainly linked to lifestyle (diet, sedentary lifestyle, tobacco). Excessive salt intake has long been associated with hypertension. Today, we consume an average of 9 to 10 g of salt per day, mainly provided by bread, cold meats, industrial ready meals and other ultra-processed foods. While it should not be ingested more than 2 g of salt per day.

How does excess salt cause hypertension? The sodium in salt is responsible for the balance of fluids in the body. Excessive intake (a few milligrams more) disturbs this balance by increasing the blood volume by water retention. The heart and kidneys have more blood to pump and filter, the flow increases and so does blood pressure.

What the study says

In this study published in Science China Life, scientists have shown that high salt intake over the long term alters the mechanisms causing aversion to a large dose of salt, managed by the TRPM5 receptor. In other words, it is a vicious circle, which seems, according to this study, reversible.

Indeed, the researchers discovered that the bitter melon extract (BME) as well as cucurbitacin E (CuE), a major BME compound, reinforce the aversion to high salt concentrations by regulating expression and function of the TRPM5 receiver.

We discovered that BME and CuE increase the expression and function of TRPM5 in the tongue epithelium. As a result, mice fed a high salt and BME diet ingest less salt, and have improved their salt-induced hypertension and heart enlargement compared to mice fed only a high salt diet. “Said Dr. Hao Wu and Professor Zhiming Zhu, two study authors.

In practice

Here are some basic tips for reducing salt intake, while waiting for a solution to restore salt aversion to be at hand:

  • Limit ultra-processed foods high in added salt
  • Limit foods high in salt such as cheeses, bread and cold meats
  • Use sodium salt or gomasio
  • Use spices and aromatic herbs to add flavor to preparations
  • Eat a good amount of vegetables to restore the sodium / potassium balance.


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