Well, Crap: Salty Diets May Aggravate Conditions Like Asthma

Scientific reports about food are designed to do one of two things; allow us to make jokes about inhaling things that are bad for you, or ruin all our dietary fun.

As you may have guessed, this scientific report falls into the latter camp.

Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine took white cells from mice and people, applied some salt equivalent to eating a “high-salt diet” and, well…

For both species, the salt prompted the white blood cells to specialize into “interleukin 17-producing helper T cells”. These produce a molecule called interleukin 17A (IL-17A) that induces the destruction of pathogens. But IL-17A also aggravates inflammation in several autoimmune diseases.

In human cells, excess salt caused the proportion producing IL-17A to soar from 2 to 40 per cent, and increased concentrations of IL-17A tenfold.

Interleukin 17A has a role in diseases like asthma, psoriasis, arthritis, and irritable bowel syndrome, so basically, if you have one of these diseases, it might be time to look into that whole potassium chloride thing.

The good news, though, is that if you’re just naturally salty, there may be help on the way: There’s a “salt-sensing” enzyme that the team found was fairly easily blocked, so this may be a good treatment for people suffering from some autoimmune conditions.

Just don’t have some pretzels to celebrate.

(Pic via Shutterstock)