According to a new study published in the journal Cell Press, salt could boost the immune response. Dietary salt could defend the body against invading microbes. While eating too many salty foods can increase one’s risk of stroke and heart disease, a team of researchers discovered that salt prevented skin-parasites from infecting mice.
Lead study author Jonathan Jantsch, a microbiologist at Universitätsklinikum Regensburg and Universität Regensburg, Germany says: “Up to now, salt has been regarded as a detrimental dietary factor. Our current study challenges this one-sided view and suggests that increasing salt accumulation at the site of infections might be an ancient strategy to ward off infections, long before antibiotics were invented.”
Jantsch notes that it is confusing that significant quantities of sodium can be store-housed in the skin because they can lead to high blood pressure as well as raise your risk of heart disease. So why did humans develop this capacity to store large quantities of salt?
Jantsch and his colleagues began to understand when they saw that rodents that had been bitten by other rodents had “an unusually high amount” of salt (sodium) in their skin. They found a similar sodium accumulation in infected areas of skin in human subjects.
This observation inspired additional experiments. The results revealed that a diet high in salt actually increased the activity of macrophages. (Macrophages are specific immune cells that can fight off numerous pathogens.)
Jantsch states: “A further understanding of the regulatory cascades might not only help to design drugs that specifically enhance local salt deposition and help to combat infectious diseases, but also may lead to novel strategies to mobilize sodium stores in the aging population and prevent cardiovascular disease.”
Don’t go pouring on the salt just yet however as the investigative team believes more research is in order. Jantsch concludes: “Due to the overwhelming clinical studies demonstrating that high dietary salt is detrimental to hypertension and cardiovascular diseases, we feel that at present our data does not justify recommendations on high dietary salt in the general population.”
Salty Foods Boost Immune Response