In the past few decades there has been a marked increase in autoimmune disease. This has been correlated with the increased population of the Western diet and processed foods. The latter contain far more salt than homemade foods. Now, two recent papers in Nature provide compelling evidence that a modest increase in salt in the diet of a mouse model of multiple sclerosis strongly increases the symptoms (earlier onset and more severe disease), and induce a pro-inflammatory state. The authors of one paper suggest that, “…clinical trials with severe curtailment of salt intake for individuals at risk for developing autoimmune disease are required.” Given the inflammatory component in mental illness, might this also apply to these disorders?
On the other hand, it has become apparent that changing to a very low salt diet does not lessen the heart attacks or strokes in people at risk, although the American Heart Association is not convinced about the newer data. Nonetheless, there is no necessary connection between heart disease and mental illness studies.