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Sodium Hunger: The Search for a Salty Taste.

Few foods and their effects upon bodily functions have captured the concern that salt has upon modern society. Food processors include salt in practically every product sold in grocery stores; nor can chefs and housewives resist its use.

Jay Shulkin's book focuses on the sodium hunger that seems to grip every level of society. Psychologists and behavior physiologists will find the book fascinating because the hunger for salt has long been a model with which to study brain mechanisms that elicit behavior and physiological effects linked with salt.

The book begins with the presentation of evidence which supports the theory that excessive salt hunger (as differentiated from the body's minimum requirement for the mineral) is not instinctive. People will use it long after the instinctive need has passed. Thus, individuals cannot be depended upon to use salt after metabolic needs have been fulfilled.

Women have a greater desire for salt than men do. Is the need inborn, linked to hormonal changes and depletion of vital minerals during menstruation?

Evidently, the bo/k has been organized to suit the interests of profess)onals. It succeeds as a masterful presentation of cellular phenomenon and as a grand study of how mineral resources are balanced and distributed.

The work could have been more impressive and satisfying if the question whether hypertension in humans is truly linked to an imbalance of salt in the diet were addressed. During the past 25 years, an enormous amount of medical literature has been produced associating intake of too much salt with high blood pressure.

More recently, however, the emphasis seems to be shifting to the compensatory use of potassium. If the individual's diet is dominated by sodium, then balance the equation with more potassium-containing foods. It is a theory worth pursuing. Fortunately more books and scientific papers are beginning to explore a sodium-potassium balance.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Vegetus Publications
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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