Improve your immunity: Excess salt damages defenses

An extra teaspoon of salt and our ability to fight pathogenic bacteria is diminished. Are you sure you don”t consume too much?

We know that consuming too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, but there is another reason to keep it at bay: Too much salt can weaken the immune system and make us more vulnerable to infection. The first study that gave a clue about the action against the immunity of salt was carried out with laboratory animals. Researchers at the University Hospital in Bonn, Germany, led by Dr. Katarzyna Jobin, found that mice fed a high-salt diet suffered much more severe bacterial infections.


Scientists have been able to determine the mechanism that impairs immunity. By consuming an excess of salt, the kidneys must eliminate it in the urine and in the process increases the concentration of glucocorticoids, which inhibit the function of granulocytes, the most abundant type of immune cell in the blood and which is responsible for destroying pathogenic bacteria.

The effect has been proven in humans. When a small group of volunteers consumed an additional 6 g of salt per day (about a teaspoon), they showed deficiencies in immunity markers.

More studies are needed to determine the extent of this effect, but as a precaution it is a good idea to monitor the amount of sodium you consume.

The World Health Organization recommends a maximum intake of 5 g of salt per day, but most people eat twice as much.


Keep in mind that most of the salt is consumed through processed products, especially in sausages and other delicatessen foods, pickles, preserves, chips and other snacks, and ultra-processed products in general. As an example, two fast food menus (a hamburger and a serving of French fries) provide 6-7 g of salt.

To reduce consumption, it is convenient to cook at home and reduce the salt that we add to the preparations, replacing it in part with spices, fresh herbs, lemon or vinegar.

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