Are you looking for new ways to get your asthma under control? If so, you may be considering lifestyle changes that would keep your symptoms at bay. One such approach?  Cutting back on your salt intake. But studies have shown that reducing sodium might not have as big of an impact as previously thought.

Do Salt and Asthma Have a Link?

A low sodium diet offers a wide range of health benefits, including lower blood pressure, improved weight management and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. But does it also control asthma? A variety of older studies have suggested that it could make a difference, but the latest research contradicts this theory.

In fact, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Nottingham that was included in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine in 2008 found no basis for the claim that reducing sodium correlates with improved respiratory function.

The Latest Study on Salt and Asthma

In the past, it was thought that when asthmatics limited their sodium intake, they experienced better asthma control (including improved lung function, less airway irritation and fewer symptoms overall). The theory was that the lower sodium amounts meant that the muscles inside the airways were less likely to contract and to ultimately lead to an asthma attack. However, this connection didn't hold true among the most recent group of Nottingham study participants.  

An Invalid Theory?

Why the discrepancy in findings? The researchers from Nottingham believe that many earlier studies on the sodium and asthma connection were conducted on very small, limited groups. But to test the results on a more wide scale basis, they broadened out their efforts, looking at close to 200 patients. In this larger group, the link between asthma and salt simply didn't hold true.

The Specifics

To test the theories and come up with this conclusion, the Nottingham patients (all of whom were asthmatic), were split into two distinct groups. Both groups were directed to eat a low sodium diet, but one group was also given a pill containing a normal amount of sodium, while the other half took a low-sodium version. Regardless of the differences in sodium, the experts found that there was no difference in asthma symptoms among the two groups of participants.

A Word of Caution

It's important to note that while the Nottingham study didn't find any salt and asthma connection, the researchers did caution that this may not be the final word on the matter. It's still possible that a different group of patients studied could have had different reactions. Further, if the study had lasted for a longer period, it's possibly that the outcome could have been altered, too. Finally, exercise-induced asthma may respond differently. Therefore, further research on salt and asthma is needed to completely confirm or disprove any connection.

What this Means

Wonder what this means for you? If you have asthma and want to do anything you can to help improve the symptoms, while a no sodium diet may not be the cure you hoped, there's also no harm in trying it.  The bottom line is that even if your asthma symptoms don't go away, eating a low sodium diet is good for your health anyway.


American Thoracic Society, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine