Thursday 21 February 2019
Salt tastes and makes you want more. How it affects health, however, is controversial. A new study now establishes a link between sodium chloride and allergies, including fast foods.
Too much salt in food is harmful. Increases the risk of hypertension and obesity. Excessive influence negatively affects brain performance. Furthermore, it has already been shown that food sodium chloride plays a role in autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis. This is reason enough for researchers at the Technical University of Munich to investigate whether, how and at what concentration the vital mineral affects the immune system.
The team led by Julia Matthias gave a closer look at the activities of the so-called T-helper cells. The researchers gave different concentrations of sodium chloride (saline, NaCl) to these auxiliary cells from mice and healthy humans. They saw that at high concentrations of salts, in particular Th2 cells were formed. They are associated with allergies.
Salt alters the auxiliary cells
Because of the salt, T cells were more often converted into special Th2 cells. NaCl has also increased the activity of these cells, which in turn leads to an increase in the release of some immune messengers, as in the case of allergies. To get to the bottom of this possible relationship, researchers are now studying the skin of people with a common allergic skin disease called atopic dermatitis.
It was found that the sodium chloride content in the cells of patients with dermatitis was significantly higher than that of healthy skin cells. "So far, however, we have not been able to show how high levels of salt enter the skin," says Christina Zielinski, who was also involved in the study. "Also, we do not know if it is through a low salt or salt diet, the formation or course of Neurodermatitis or other allergic diseases." These and other similar questions that they and their team want to answer in future studies interdisciplinary.
However, researchers believe that the importance of salt in food in terms of developing allergies is much higher than previously thought. Their findings could explain why there has been a huge increase in allergies over the last 50 years. During this time, more and more people were consuming more processed foods and fast foods – and with these foods more and more salt.
How much salt is needed for the body and from what amount it can have a negative effect, further research needs to be clarified. The results of the study were published in the journal "Science".