Dietary salt, inflammation and mental illness?

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.

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4 Responses to Dietary salt, inflammation and mental illness?

  1. Begonia says:

    It’s not about the salt – unless the individuals are genetically salt sensitive – it’s about what’s in and more importantly what’s not in the vast quantities of processed food that people eat. If you eat low carb/paleo you can liberally salt your food without any effect on BP – I have found.

  2. Hi Paul

    I saw some research in regards to TH17 maternal immune stimulation ( and noted the TH17 in the two ‘salt’ studies, what can we learn from this ?


    • Sorry … to add to that this paper – Plasma cytokine profiling in sibling pairs discordant for autism spectrum disorder – – that showed ASD children with regression had “Interestingly, levels of Th2 (z = 1.990, P = 0.047) and Th17 (z = 2.040, P = 0.041) cytokines were significantly higher in children with regressive ASD than in children with ASD who had no regression. “

      • phpatterson says:

        Yes, we also saw IL-17 hyper-responsiveness in the offspring of immune activated moms – Hsiao & Patterson, 2012. The hi salt is kicking into the same pathway.

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