Have you ever wondered why your doctor tells you to eat less salt to keep your blood pressure in a healthy range?
For decades, it was believed to have something to do with your kidneys, but both doctors and researchers weren’t sure exactly what the connection was, leaving patients to begrudgingly ditch the salt (and likely take multiple medications) to combat high blood pressure.
Now, however, thanks to a ground-breaking study from scientists at Shinshu University, we finally know exactly why a salty diet and high blood pressure go hand in hand, as well as what can be done to help.
The anti-aging factor produced by your kidneys
The team of scientists at the center of the research was aware of one important factor that started them on the trail to the truth…
And that was this: In general, young people are less sensitive to salt and are unlikely to develop hypertension, whereas older people react worse to high sodium intake and are likely to develop hypertension.
So, the team used aging mice with that same higher salt sensitivity to get to the root of the problem.
And, it all came down to this.
The reason salt becomes a vehicle of hypertension as we age is that over time, our kidneys slow production of an anti-aging factor known as Klotho protein.
It’s a protein that plays a role in longevity, helps your muscles regenerate, and helps to keep insulin in check.
Low levels have already been linked to cognitive deficits and heart disease.
Now, the Shinshu scientists have found that those same low levels are also the answer to why eating a high-salt diet leads to high blood pressure, since their results showed that Klotho deficiency combined with salt leads to vasoconstriction.
In other words, if you don’t have enough Klotho protein floating around and you eat too much salt, the area in your vessels where blood must pass through becomes tighter and tighter and your heart has to pump harder and harder.
Boosting Klotho levels
The study also had some good news…
In addition to discovering the why behind the salt/hypertension connection, the researchers also found that Klotho supplementation could prevent the development of hypertension. Of course, their next step is to test this in humans.
But in the meantime, raising your Klotho levels could be helpful if you’re battling high blood pressure.
And although there’s not a Klotho supplement floating around out there, there are some ways to boost the protein naturally, including:
- Exercise — Studies show that Klotho levels increase following exercise.
- Cordyceps — This fungus has been found to increase the expression of the Klotho protein that is downregulated by Angiotensin II in hypertension.
- Gentian root — A supplement that could help stabilize the protein after its production to increase its expression.
- Probiotics — In aging mice, Acidophilus + L Lactis boosted klotho.
Just as important, be sure to avoid things that can lower klotho, like stress, inflammation and oxidative stress.
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Treating Systemic Klotho Deficiency — American Journal of Nephrology
Skeletal muscle as a regulator of the longevity protein, Klotho —– Frontiers in Physiology