The human immune system responds to external threats, such as bacteria and viruses, and works to neutralize the foreign invaders to maintain our health. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of the immune system can be affected by a number of factors, including poor sleep, stress and our diet.
Researchers from the University Hospital of Bonn have now discovered a new factor that can impact our immune system – salt. Their research in both mice and humans indicates that individuals with a high salt diet have a reduced ability to ward off bacterial infections.
In humans, the team observed that following just one week on a high salt diet the study participants had altered immune systems. Their neutrophil white blood cells that circulate around the body searching for infection were less able to kill bacteria compared to before the increased dietary salt. The researchers believe this may be because bodies consuming high levels of salt produce hormones like glucocorticoids to help increase salt excretion, but this also results in a suppressed immune system. According to the World Health Organization people should consume no more than 5g of salt per day in order to reduce the risk of high blood pressure, perhaps this recommendation will one day be altered to include mention of salt’s impact on the immune system.
Source: New Scientist
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