The study is the first to show a link between frequent salt intake and type 2 diabetes.
People at risk for type 2 diabetes may already know to avoid sugar, but new research suggests they may also want to cut back on salt.
A recent study conducted by Tulane University was published in the journal Mayo Clinic Minutesfound that frequently adding salt to foods is associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Research results and implications
The study surveyed more than 400,000 adults registered with UK Biobank about their salt intake. Over 13,000 cases of type 2 diabetes developed among participants during a median follow-up of 11.8 years. Compared to participants who “never” or “rarely” used salt, participants who added salt “sometimes,” “always,” or “always” had a 13% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, respectively. 20% and 39% higher.
Association with other health risks
“We already know that salt restriction can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure, but this study shows for the first time that taking the salt shaker off the table can also help prevent type 2 diabetes.” said lead author Dr. Lu Qi. Distinguished Chair of HCA Regents and Professor, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.
Further research is needed to understand why high salt intake increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. However, Qi believes that salt encourages people to eat more, increasing their chances of developing risk factors such as obesity and inflammation. The study found an association between frequent salt intake and increased BMI and waist-hip ratio.
Qi said the next step is to conduct a clinical trial in which participants control the amount of salt they consume and observe its effects.
Still, Chee says it’s never too early to start looking for ways to flavor your favorite foods with less sodium.
“It’s not hard to change, but it can have a huge impact on your health,” Chee says.
Reference: “Dietary Sodium Intake and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes” by Xuan Wang, Hao Ma, Minghao Kou, Rui Tang, Qiaochu Xue, Xiang Li, Timothy S. Harlan, Yoriko Heianza, and Lu Qi, November 2023 1st of the month Mayo Clinic Minutes.
This research was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the Fogarty International Center, and a Tulane Research Center of Excellence Award.