A new study published in the American Journal of Hypertension has reported that there is no strong evidence that advising people to eat less salt or putting them on low salt diet reduces their death rate or cuts cardiovascular events.

In the study, the researchers combined the results of 7 previous randomized clinical trials that looked at the effects of lowering salt consumption in 6250 people with normal and high blood pressure.

While there was evidence that reduced salt (sodium chloride) did produce a small decrease in the blood pressure, there was insufficient data to confirm whether that decrease in blood pressure had any affect one way or the other on the chances of dying.

Whether or not to reduce salt in the diet has been a controversial subject in medical science. In modern medicine, two types of people are recognized: Salt–sensitive and salt–resistant. In salt–sensitive people, the blood pressure fluctuates with excessive salt intake; in the salt–resistant individuals, the blood pressure is unaffected with salt intake. Results of most studies vary depending upon the population of patients being investigated. If the study population includes more of salt–resistant people, the results will different from those observed when the study includes more salt sensitive people.

In modern medicine, we have no means or method to find out which patient is salt–sensitive or salt–resistant. The traditional Indian Ayurveda system, if combined with modern science, can provide an answer to this. According to Ayurveda, every human being is made up of three Doshas (characteristics) and they are: Movement (Vata), metabolism (Pitta) and structure (Kapha).

Movement (Vata) function is built up from air and space element; Metabolism (Pitta) function is made from fire and water element and Structure (Kapha) from earth and water elements. Accordingly, there are three types of personalities: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. A Vata person is a movement–predominant personality, pitta, a metabolism–predominant personality and Kapha is a structure–predominant personality.

A Vata person is thin–built with dry and cold hands, more prone to pain, gaseous distension, insomnia, dysmenorrhea, constipation, anxiety, fear and to addictions. These are the people who are sensitive to bitter, astringent and pungent tastes.

A Pitta person is medium–built with strong metabolism, warm and wet hands. He/she is prone to acidity, inflammation, ulceration, premature graying of hairs, kidney, gallbladder stones, heart attack etc. They are sensitive to pungent, sour and salt taste.

A Kapha person is heavy–built with more of earth and water elements. They have cold and wet hands and are more prone to obesity, hypothyroidism, water retention, diabetes, heaviness, etc. They are sensitive to sweet, sour and salt tastes.

Ethnically, people in US have more of Vata and Kapha personality traits. Therefore, there are chances that studies done on US population give varied results.

The Indian population has more of Vata and Pitta personality traits. But there are a greater number of Pitta people than Vata people; therefore, India will have more salt-sensitive people than in the US.

The clinical answer is very simple: Calculate your personality; are you a Vata, Pitta or Kapha person? If you are Vata–predominant, you may not be required to reduce your salt intake, but if you are a Pitta– and Kapha–predominant person, you will need to reduce your salt (sodium chloride) intakes to less than 6 gm a day.

For Indians, the best advice is to consume salt in the diet from vegetables, pulses and avoid extra salt on the table by way of limiting salts in curd, salads, butter etc. There are lots of kitchen alternatives available that can replace salt in salads etc.