Eating salty: effects on potassium excretion?

Kidney is the primary route in which the body eliminates wastes and maintains the stability of body water, salt and minerals. A diet containing a large amount of salt (sodium) can alter this balance and lead to severe disorders such as hypertension. Despite the importance of this equilibrium, the influence of sodium dietary intake on potassium excretion still makes debate.


Eating salty: is it always a problem?

In a recent study published in Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, scientists from Prof. Eric Feraille’s group in collaboration with Prof. Antoinette Pechère-Bertschi confirmed that eating salty is not a short-term problem for healthy young males. Indeed, their human study did not show any impact of a sodium-rich diet on potassium excretion and blood pressure (see Figure below). However, a high sodium diet may have long-term consequences: it gives more work to kidneys and can worsen a kidney failure.


A large amount of sodium in the diet (violet line) does not modify the potassium (K+) excreted in the urine compared to a low (yellow) and normal (green) dietary intake. © from Pechère-Bertschi et al. in Nephrol Dial Transplant.


What’s next?

Knowing that potassium excretion is independent of sodium intake, scientists can now investigate more easily the role of potassium in kidney failure. They hope to open new therapeutic avenues to treat kidney diseases.




8 Feb 2021