How to Treat Asthma with a Low Salt Diet

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /

in the 60s and 70s a mystery was emerging why were childhood asthma rates in the developed world between two and five percent but in the developing world as low as zero point zero zero seven percent so instead of 1 in 20 kids affected or 1 in 50 kids it could be more like 1 in 10,000 kids extremely rare and when they move from a low-risk area to a high-risk area their risk went up so it wasn’t genetic what was going on were they exposed to something new or did they leave some protective factor behind well way back in 1938 scientists showed they could stop asthma attacks by lowering children’s sodium levels but this was done with a diuretic drug but subsequent dietary experiments showed that diets high in salt seemed to increase asthmatic symptoms and lowering the salt seemed to decrease asthmatic symptoms but this body of evidence was apparently forgotten until it was picked up again in the 1980s as a possible explanation for why Western countries had higher asthma rates maybe it was the salt they graphed out childhood death from asthma versus family salt purchases and it seemed more salt meant more death but just because a family buys more salt doesn’t necessarily mean the kids are eating more the way you find out how much salt someone is actually eating is you collect their urine over a 24-hour period and measure the amount of sodium since how much salt we eat is pretty much how much salt we excrete the way you test for asthma is called a bronchial challenged test where you look for an exaggerated response to an inhaled chemical and indeed there was a strong correlation between how their lungs reacted and how much sodium they were taking in but look there’s all sorts of food additives like preservatives that can trigger the so called hypersensitivity reactions and so maybe high sodium intake was just a marker for high processed food intake maybe wasn’t the salt at all or maybe it was other components of the diet for example the reason sodium may be a risk factor for another inflammatory disease rheumatoid arthritis may be that sodium intake is just a marker for increased meat and fish intake or decreased fruit and vegetable intake what we needed was a study where we take asthmatics change the amount of salt in their diets and see what happens and so that’s what came next take 10 asthmatics double their salt intake and in 9 out of 10 their lung sensitivity worsened no control group though maybe they would have all gotten worse anyway which brings us to the 90s a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial put everyone on the low salt diet but then give half of them the sustained-release sodium pills to bring their salt intake back up to a more normal intake and the other half gets placebo you tried that for five weeks and then you switch them around for another five weeks that’s how you can randomize people to a true low sodium diet without them even realizing it genius so what happened asthmatics on the salt got worse their lung function got worse their asthma symptoms got worse and they had to take more puffs on their inhalers this is comparing asthmatics consuming about three teaspoons worth of salt a day to those consuming less than one so they were effectively able to drop their sodium intake two teaspoons of salt worth if you do a more pragmatic trial and only effectively reduce people’s salt intake by a half teaspoon a day it doesn’t work even if you are able to cut your sodium down enough to get a therapeutic effect though it should be considered an adjunct treatment do not stop your asthma medications without your doctor’s approval [Music]

59 thoughts on “How to Treat Asthma with a Low Salt Diet

  1. I heard it was fat and dairy causing asthma, but then again those ingredients are generally surrounded by a lot of sodium in processed food recipes…

  2. According to, while consuming 3347.6 calories I was getting 300.5 mg of sodium. People in modern society are eating extremely high levels of sodium when compared to a whole unrefined plant based vegan diet which has been suggested to be the natural diet for humans.

  3. But… can we please have some evidence showing, if any, the difference between Himalayan, Celtic, and unprocessed sea salt versus the hyper-processed salt. Processed salt is heated to over 1200 degrees, altering the chemical structure and is pumped full of anti-caking agents and follow agents.

  4. -Dr Greger the Asthmavideo was good. Please upload a video about gastritis-studies! Please.

  5. Is there any pathophysiological explanation/experiment backing this up? Is it bekcause of the altered vessel function or the direct action of sodium in the eosinophils/other immune/lung cels, or something else ?

  6. Plenty of salt already naturally inside of whole plant foods. If you stop consuming less and less salt, your taste receptors will scale down, and you will find the taste of high salt foods too much, while the taste of low salt foods tame and and just the same, and if not, you have non-salty seasonings to use still. Try it.

  7. This information is gold! I've struggled with severe asthma my entire life, and my father has been struggling with his a lot lately. Diet affects so much more than we think. Time to get back to my SOS-free meals!!

  8. if you tell your doctor that high sodium intake causes asthma they will just laugh at you and tell you there's no evidence

  9. doctors never really helped me with asthma but thanks to internet i helped myself . beeing on vegetarian diet is one of the best thing that happened to me. i want to help people lose weight in future but need to pass exams first 😊

  10. To keep my sodium down, my meals always have something sweet like sweet potatoes, corn, frozen green peas, banana, mango etc. Just throwing all the goodness in a big bowl, mixing it and loving it! Not an asthmatic, just doing it for general health!

  11. What a strange coincidence. This past weekend I had a migraine and my preferred treatment is Alka Setzer (yes, I tried ginger). I also ran out of kale for kale chips, on which I usually sprinkle a bunch of KCl (salt substitute)*. Since Monday I noticed a return of my 'aches and pains' which I had for the most part not experienced since adopting a mostly WFPB diet. First I thought it might be a rebound from the aspirin, then this morning at breakfast I realized my Na/K intake is way off what it should be. Then I sat down to this video…

    *re: potassium and autoimmune disease (one of my favorite Nutritionfacts videos):

    3:53 genius indeed

  12. I've noticed my blood pressure goes down and my asthma improves if I do daily exercise where I sweat. The opposite occurs when I don't. I wonder if it's to do with sweating out the salt from my body?

  13. Breathing vs Taste …?
    You would think breathing should win over taste ….but only when you're NOT the one about to take a bite!
    Salt makes everything taste better 🙁

  14. Hi Dr. Greger, I have a question about this video. I do have asthma, but it has gotten much better since my childhood (I'm in my mid-twenties now and only have symptoms when running outside or when exposed to allergens). I would like to try lowering my salt to see if it affects my symptoms when running, but since I was young I was advised to eat more salt because of my low blood pressure. Would you recommend I still give it a try?
    Already eating whole foods plant-based diet for about 1.5 years now!

  15. I wish I had known this as a kid. Several friends had asthma. I would have loved to try and convince them to give it a try.

  16. I visited a 'Salt Cave' which was actually a constructed environment simulation in Scotland last year. The standing joke there was.. 'they gave the Coal Miners their two week annual holiday – in the Salt Mines, to improve the lungs'.
    I'm quite resistant to crank remedies but was breathing much easier after an hour there.
    Of course it could have been sitting in a warm area with the relaxing sea-shore soundtrack.
    But perhaps there is some truth there, breathing in salt dust could have a different effect than ingesting it? Anyone else been to a salt cave?

  17. I noticed a significant improvement in my asthma symptoms when I went vegan, but they came back when I started eating vegan junk food. Chalk another one up for whole plant foods!

  18. Maybe I misinterpret something here. But one teaspoon of salt equals ca. 5 gram and three teaspoons equal ca. 15g. But isn´t the recommended daily intake of salt only 6 gram? The answer would be very helpful. Thx in advance 🙂

  19. Btw, I was wondering has someone recognized the negative effect of COFFEE on ASTHMA I think I do better without coffeine.

  20. this is bullshit when i eat low fat i get asthma were when i boost it up it goes away in fact i know if i have to little fat in my diet if i start getting asthma like symptoms

  21. The idea of giving up salt is too intimidating for most people. This is probably going to be one of those slow social transitions like people giving up cigarettes.

  22. can you please address dr. mercolas "fat for fuel" to fight cancer and live the healthiest life theory.

  23. The three-dimensional animations of the cited studies were far too distracting in this video. I've enjoyed the new editing techniques in the last few videos, but this one just doesn't work.

  24. Great content as always. The editing on the audio (weird pauses) was pretty bad. I'm guessing you guys caught that though.

  25. Dr Greger, who in their right mind would recommend a daily diet with over 2 tsp of salt (over 4,800 mg of sodium)? That's a great load of ramen noodles and processed meat.

  26. I cut out dairy–>no more need for asthmameds. Wish I had known that as a child, so I would not have needed all those meds

  27. I never thought that there could be a connection between high sodium levels and my asthma. I've had asthma almost all of my life. I now have high blood pressure. My asthma as improved, I just thought that it was my meds at work, not the lowering of my sodium intake. This seems to be a good case for moving more towards a plant-based lifestyle for me.

  28. It's not sodium, it is the chemicals in processed foods. Bisulfite, metibisulfite, sulfites. It's in many of the processed foods which also contain often salty foods. Also old carpets, or even carpets hold on to dust. Bottled lemon juice, dried fruits, grape juice. It's all hell. It's not the Hymilaya Salt. Maybe it's the caking agent in cheap salt!

  29. How about also talking about why albuterol inhalers are so expensive in the US? Because we needed a new "ozone friendly" propellant which allowed the drug industry to take a generic, low profit drug, and put it back on patent. The drug industry used the govt and the tree huggers for their own profit. But all three are complicit.

  30. How can I get involved? I am so excited that your videos helped me cure my Asthma. You are my hero.

  31. But, was it commercial salt with silica could that be a factor….Or does this include Himmalayian salt?

  32. The mechanism for the higher incidence of asthma on the high sodium diet wasn't addressed. The significant reduction in asthma in unvaccinated kids suggest that the mechanism might be due to the documented problems in the guts of vaccinated people.

  33. How about air pollution, chem trails, dirty ocean and radiation in fish, how about sulfites in foods in fast foods intake, dried fruit, instant potatoes, lettuce white, rBEST hormones in milk etc….

  34. Have you ever heard of the book Your body many cries for water by Dr. F. Batmanghelidj? If not I think it might be worthile to take a look and also watch his videos on Youtube. You basically need to drink like 6 – 8 glasses of water daily and increase your sodium with Himalayan salt. And of course cutting on dairy.

  35. I bet my bottom dollar that salt has nothing to do with it. It must be the foods that contain lots of salt. Foods like cheese, processed meat, salted nuts and seeds, eggs etc. Because astma attacks are strongly related to food allergies and salt simply doesn't contain any proteins that are related to allergies…

  36. Will reducing salt also impact iodine levels? Maybe we are just trading up diseases…

  37. Though! When my asthma is bothering me I dissolve a little bit of pink Himalayan salt in my mouth, and it helps bring up mucus from my lungs which helps asthma
    But yah, I do feel like people are eating way too much salt

  38. MAN though I used to take my inhaler at least two times a day, once in the morning and once at night, and usually once or twice during the day because of exercise. BUT since I went vegan I only really need to take my inhaler once a month, wild how things change. (Though my asthma still bothers me a little, but not enough for a inhaler)

  39. I went on a WFPB lifestyle and the asthma I had for 30 years disappeared. I doubt it's the salt , pretty sure it's the meat , dairy and eggs. I eat as much salt as before , just no animal products. This is shocking ,amazing stuff. 30 years of asthma, gone.

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