High processed salt intake alters gut bacteria composition and may disrupt the relationship between the microbiome and host homeostasis. While increased salt intake is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD), we’re not exactly sure why that is. A recent study gave rats either water or a salt-water solution over a two-week period and analyzed blood plasma, urine, and stool samples for TMAO (trimethylamine N-oxide – a bacterial byproduct that is linked to CVD) markers. Gut bacteria composition was also analyzed using 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Results found that high salt intakes increased TMAO and altered gut bacteria composition. Nutrition
→Takeaway: The results of the study could help explain the relationship between high salt intake and an increased risk of CVD, although more research is needed. Based on this study and previous studies, a low or moderate salt intake in the diet is recommended. When looking at the Western diet, approximately 90% of salt intake comes from processed foods, while only 10% comes from the saltshaker at mealtimes. Decreasing and eventually eliminating processed foods in your diet, including dairy and baked goods such as bread, will result in substantial decreases in salt intake – and hopefully substantial increases in heart and microbial health!