Adding Salt (and Sugar) to the Wound

When writing the revised edition of Eat Right For Your Type, I alluded to the difficulties of doing nutritional and dietary research, and used salt as a prime example. It has been suggested that a statistically significant, well-powered study on the health effects of salt would have to enroll 28,000 patients for at least five years. Now, the recent media abounds in news about the exoneration of salt as a cause of many modern ailments. [1]

One problem with these types of simplistic association studies is the fact that people are different. For example salt sensitivity and hypertension are linked to several common variations in our DNA (SNPs) in three genes (SLC4A5, GRK4 and DRD2. In these people, media advice about the newfound safety of salt may actually be harmful.

SLC4A5 is involved in intracellular pH regulation and which it accomplishes by moving sodium bicarbonate between the outside world and inside of the cell. GRK4 regulates the triggering and firing of special receptors on the surface of the cell and has linked to both genetic and acquired hypertension. The DRD2 gene encodes one of the receptors for the neurotransmitter dopamine. Having the ‘AA’ genotype at the rs7571842 SNP on SLC4A5 significantly increases your sensitivity to salt with regard to blood pressure. Lesser effects were observed for rs2960306(TT) in GRK4 and rs6276 (TT) in DRD2.[2]

So back and forth we go.

However, the story of sugar may be more interesting than the tale of salt: At least as a backstory of just how screwed up and jaundiced nutrition research can be.

As reported by the New York Times and other outlets, information has come to pass that a trade group called the Sugar Research Foundation, known today as the Sugar Association, paid three Harvard scientists the equivalent of about $50,000 in today’s dollars to publish a 1967 review of research on sugar, fat and heart disease. The studies used in the review were handpicked by the sugar group, and the article, which was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, minimized the link between sugar and heart health and cast aspersions on the role of saturated fat.[3]

D. Mark Hegsted

One of the scientists who was paid by the sugar industry was D. Mark Hegsted, who went on to become the head of nutrition at the United States Department of Agriculture, and where in 1977 he helped draft the forerunner to the federal government’s dietary guidelines.

Dr. Hegsted used his research to influence the government’s dietary recommendations, which emphasized saturated fat as a driver of heart disease while largely characterizing sugar as empty calories linked to tooth decay. Today, the saturated fat warnings remain a cornerstone of the government’s dietary guidelines, though in recent years the American Heart Association, the World Health Organization and other health authorities have also begun to warn that too much added sugar may increase cardiovascular disease risk.

This suggests that five decades of research into the role of nutrition and heart disease, including many of today’s dietary recommendations, may have been largely shaped by the sugar industry.


Salt photo: By Lexlex – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

2 comments on “Adding Salt (and Sugar) to the Wound”

  1. Bob Hunt Reply

    Dr. D’Adamo,
    I cannot express how deeply pleased and grateful I (and many I share your knowledge and information with) am for your diligent and extraordinary work. As biology major and athlete ( to the NFL) I always queried why the body performed/worked as well or as poorly is it did. Finding your information regarding eating for your blood type drew me into your research and findings and also sent me on the journey to address more of it validity. Obviously there was some negative things out there, but my college education, coupled with my gut, and ultimately my adherence to your blood type food listing for me, said and confirmed it all.
    I am aware of the politics and how the “food” industry influences most everyone as I have studied that side of the fence also. I just hope (and share what I can to those who are looking for answers) that your studies and information continues going forward and will reach all those ( everyone in my opinion) that want/need to know this vital information. My sincerest thanks to you again!


  2. Cheeky Clark Reply

    TL;DR might there be biological circumstances in which an avoid food would act as a more profound medicine than a beneficial food?

    I read ER4YT years ago and am so grateful for it and, because of it, I flipped my meat to veggie ratio. For instance, when I made mexican food, I would have eaten mostly veg with a little meat and switched that to mostly meat with a little veg and the difference in how I felt after I ate was profound. Consequently, I’ve relied on beef – and beef all by itself – as medicine. If I got sick, I’d toss a roast in the crockpot and that’s all I’d eat for a couple days. And it worked. I was quite lax about the blood type food lists but there are things I haven’t eaten since I read your first book when it first came out, for instance, I was so, so, SO pleased that I would never have to choke down another glass of orange juice, EVER! LOL! And I haven’t.

    A couple years ago, I went keto (without all of the macro counting) . Throughout, as my body was changing/repairing, I would become unable to eat certain foods and craved others.

    What I’m wondering is if there are certain biological circumstances in which some “avoid” foods might be needed by the body. I ask because, despite not being a bacon eater, I recently had a strong craving for it and had a day where all I wanted was bacon. and a lot of it. So, that day, I ate almost 2 lbs of bacon and nothing else.

    The reason I did it was because I believe the body knows better than we do, what it needs and what to avoid and I recently saw a Kelly Hogan interview in which she said that she eats what her body wants, with regard to her fat/protein ratios (she is zero carb) and I’ve pretty much always done the same thing, letting my body decide what it needs and giving it that but bacon…that would not have been anywhere in my mind, HOWEVER, I noticed something striking and it was that I was walking more profoundly upright. I hadn’t even known I hadn’t been until I was. And I felt so good and walking upright felt so good and that’s what made me wonder.

    In addition, I’ve been wondering about sour grass and livestock and the idea of clearing grazing pastures of “poisonous” plants because that is all based on a test where cattle were confined to grazing on something they would ordinarily only eat small amounts of when they were unwell. Such things are all but eliminated in grazing pasture because they’ve been defined as poisonous and cattle are presumed stupid when it comes to deciding what to eat based on one test in which cattle were grazed with zero access to anything BUT plants of that type. Things they would never utilize as straight up food, given the choice, any more than a cat or dog will make a meal of the grass it seeks when it needs it.

    Anyway, thank you for ER4YT – you – along with Dr. F. Batmanghelidj – almost certainly saved my life.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *