Would You Take This Pill?

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I have a Google alert set up to email me once a day with any news items that contain the phrases “low sodium” or “low salt.” (Yes, I am a big nerd. Moving on…)

In today’s batch of stories, one in particular caught my eye. The headline read “New drug can lower salt intake without any dietary changes.” To summarize, drug manufacturer Ardelyx has created a medication called tenapanor, which blocks dietary sodium absorption by the bloodstream.  The majority of dietary sodium instead remains in the gut and eventually leaves the body as waste.

Lead researcher Dominique Charmot says ““It’s fair to say that asking patients to maintain a low-sodium diet is very hard to do.…Most of the food additives contain sodium; people who eat in restaurants cannot control sodium; plus, food is bland without sodium.  Also there’s a risk if you go too low in sodium, you also diminish nutrient composition which is needed for you to thrive.  So we believe this drug can help patients comply with a more normal diet.”

On my worst days, when low sodium meal planning seems like a tiresome chore, I would be lying if I said I never wished there was a pill that would make it so I could just eat whatever I wanted. But now that there may be one on the horizon, I’m not sure I would have the “guts” to take it.  Aside from the possible side effects and costs of being dependent on a medication, I don’t believe I could take a pill every day that basically allowed me to abdicate responsibility for my own health and diet choices.

I realize that my situation may be different from others. My low sodium diet is a choice, not a life-saving necessity as it is with some heart or kidney patients. So maybe other people will look at this option differently.

What do you think? Would you take a pill that allowed you to eat as much sodium as you wanted?

5 thoughts on “Would You Take This Pill?

  1. Interesting stuff. I read the article, but it didn’t explain how the pill would differentiate between excess sodium that needed to be removed and the sodium required for healthy bodily functions. One thing that bothers me is the idea that with the pill, people can eat what is called a “normal diet,” the kind that is filled with overly processed foods. The article also states “… that more than 90 percent of Americans over the age of 2 eat too much sodium.” So this pill would basically be foisted on everyone once they hit 2 years old. That’s a huge market and a lot of dependency created, as you suggest. Also, as you mentioned, the pill relieves us of responsibility for our own health and diet choices.

    I also was not pleased with the description of a low sodium diet, specially the deprivation of eating food without additives. That’s hardly a bad thing. There’s no downside to eating wholesome, fresh, and nutritious food that hasn’t been compromised by all kinds of chemical flavorings, fillers, preservatives, and additives.

    I just asked my husband about this possible pill, since he’s the one with congestive heart failure and has to follow a low sodium regimen. He said he’d rather monitor his sodium intake himself. I don’t have to eat low sodium, but I do so to support him (and because I’m the cook in the family). Since cooking and eating low sodium for the last 8 years, I’ve become very sensitive to salt overuse. I don’t think I could ever go back to the days of using cream of X soups, dry onion soup, Rice-a-Roni, etc. in my cooking. It may be normal, but even with that sodium restricting pill, it wouldn’t be healthy or even very tasty.

    • Beautifully said, Sue. For me, the beauty of the low-sodium diet is its sheer simplicity. I don’t need to buy anything, apart from food itself. I’m not beholden to big pharma. The diet works its magic. And I must say – even though I am NOT here to change minds – since going vegan 2 years ago, I have seen an even greater improvement in my condition (Meniere’s).

      “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”

      ― Hippocrates

      • Christy – I love that quote from Hippocrates. I am off the vegan wagon myself but I still cook mostly vegan because my husband eats that way. Lately I’ve made an effort to really ramp up my fruits/veggies and whole grains because it really does make me feel better.

    • Sue – you summed up many of my thoughts. I definitely think we can all benefit from eating a more whole-foods diet which is naturally low in sodium. This pill would be a crutch and an excuse to continue eating processes and fast foods, something that NONE of us need.
      And, I don’t see that this pill differentiate between normal and excess sodium so it would just be flushing all sodium out – which could be dangerous!
      But- I would consider taking it once in a blue moon to be able to eat at my favorite Thai restaurant again. From what I know about human physiology though (I’m a dr but not a people dr!), if there is excess salt in the colon I would imagine that would draw water to that area and have some unpleasant and urgent consequences. Yuck.

  2. Pingback: Low Sodium News Roundup - March 14, 2014 | LowSodiumHQ

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