Pass the Salt

I am working on general salt reduction in my diet. I am doing this mostly because its effects on my kidney and maintain a healthy diet is really important for general overall health. While I don’t feel that I am a significant salt consumer, it has the tendency to be put into everything. Especially, if you are eating out in restaurants, take out or packaged for prepared foods which tend to be the worst for this. I don’t eat out that often but I have been guilty of not remembering or having time to pack lunch and sometimes not making the wisest food choices.

I set myself out of a quest to look at the role of dietary salt in asthma. I came across a podcast and journal articles that look at the role of salt in exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. As a kinesiology, I was immensely excited about the connections to exercise. Here is a quick overview of the data I have found.

Let’s start with what is EIB?

  • Exercise induced asthma and exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) are synonymous terms.1 They both describe a condition in which vigorous physical activity triggers acute airway narrowing with increase airway hyperreactivity
  • Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) is a more accurate and descriptive term. It is characterized by symptoms of coughing, wheezing and/or chest tightness.
  • It is clinically defined as transient increases in post exercise resistance, resulting in a greater than 10% fall in post exercise FEV1, in comparison to the pre exercise values.2

What about the salt?

  • There are theories that dietary salt may influence the severity of EIB.2
  • Mickleborough et al. conducted a study that showed that weeks of salt loading worsened and 2 weeks of salt restriction improved pulmonary function at 5 min. post-exercise in fifteen clinically diagnosed EIB subjects .3
  • Research has been conducted but more research is needed to evaluate the role of sodium in influencing airway reactivity in asthmatics.4
  • Salt contains both sodium and chloride, researchers are still determining if chloride plays a role in increasing the severity of EIB 3 The exact mechanism in which salt effects airway reactivity post exercise in EIB is still being determined. There are thoughts that there is a direct correlation between sodium/and or chloride on smooth muscle contractibility, which affects airway narrowing.

All in all, researchers are making further discoveries into the role of salt on EIB. While is still much to discover, they are making interest connections and I personally can not wait to see where this research goes. You don’t have to be a high-performance athlete to be impacted by EIB. Good ole regular physical activity is really important to me and I hope to keep participating for all of my days.

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