I had a physical last week and my blood pressure was 130/80, which is considered a bit high. I was told to limit sodium by the practitioner. Fair enough. I decided to google “sodium leads to high blood pressure” and this is the info the internet provides. This is a website from Harvard. Health Risks and Disease Related to Salt and Sodium.

There was a section about potassium and sodium and how more potassium (good for you) had the opposite effects of sodium (bad for you). Then I read this:

In this study, people with the highest sodium intakes had a 20 percent higher risk of death from any cause than people with the lowest sodium intakes. People with the highest potassium intakes had a 20 percent lower risk of dying than people with the lowest intakes. But what may be even more important for health is the relationship of sodium to potassium in the diet: People with the highest ratio of sodium to potassium in their diets had double the risk of dying of a heart attack than people with the lowest ratio, and they had a 50 percent higher risk of death from any cause. 

Those are serious numbers. Instead of accepting that, I decided to check the cited source (which I never do).

The study looked at 12,267 individuals. In 14.8 years, 2,270 people died. No ages are given.

So I went further and found this about the case study:

Numerous epidemiological studies and randomized clinical trials have found that high sodium or low potassium intake was associated with increased risk for hypertension, with a stronger association observed for potassium. However, less consistent results have been observed for incidence of CVD or mortality. 

From a public health point of view, reduced sodium intake accompanied by increased potassium intake could achieve greater health benefits than restricting sodium alone.

To give an idea of the data, this was their data point for people who drink alcohol, “Alcohol consumption was classified as 0, 1 to 2, or 3 or more drinks per week”. I drink that in an hour. Plus you’re giving people 15 years to die and then testing their sodium/potassium levels? What are these people being paid for? Jerry got hit by a bus but his ratio was off the charts!

I’ve commented on the AntiFragility book many times, and I’m almost done reading it, but its point is to re-read that first italicized block and it makes you think you have a 50% higher chance of dying if you have too much sodium and not enough potassium. I read the entire case study and no where in there did it provide that information like it did on the Harvard website. Yet, any human being who reads that comes away with that “truism” because it came from Harvard.

This post has nothing to do with sodium. Doctors need you to be unhealthy to make money. Financiers need you to think that they are going to make you money. Marketers job is literally to make you think there is a reason you need their product. What the book says is that if a product or idea has been around for a long time, it’s been tested by nature. If it’s new or unproven, you’re rolling the dice.

This was a headline on heart.org to give more substance behind putting out drugs that aren’t necessarily helpful:

This is another headline on the sodium perception:

If you’re healthy, don’t go to the doctor. They’ll find something wrong with you. I don’t write this by saying all information is bogus, only nature wins in the end. The newest product that is supposed to make you better will probably be your downfall. The older I get, the less I trust. It’s easy to recover from doing nothing. It’s harder when that black swan hits.

This is how I see the stock market. You may benefit by making 5% a year, but that 75% drop will destroy your life.