Is Salt a Trigger for Autoimmunity?

Is Salt a Trigger for Autoimmunity?

Note: The text below is a transcription from the video above. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.

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All right, so today we’re going to talk about salt. It was just suggested to me as a topic, and it’s funny, I haven’t really talked about this much if at all. But yet there’s 40 some triggers now that we know of for autoimmune thyroid disease and salt is one of them. I think it’s the least discussed of all of them, and yet I know even my personal experience with not eating salt, and for those of you who may never have seen me before, I have Hashimoto’s, it was dramatic. Now it’s not dramatic for everybody. Everybody has different sensitivities of those 42. Some people will have certain ones that are really, really sensitive to and other people aren’t as sensitive to and vice versa and so on and so forth. But for me it was dramatic. So it’s amazing I haven’t talked about it.
So salt. Okay, what does salt have to do with Hashimoto’s? So there’s two different avenues with salt. A lot of you are going to be familiar with the first one. No, maybe not, I don’t know. But another huge trigger for autoimmune thyroid disease, Hashimoto’s, is iodine. So you shouldn’t eat table salt because table salt has iodine in it. It was put in there literally. It’s interesting, it was put in there to stop people from having goiters. But this is not a third world country. People get enough iodine here when they eat other things. I want to say Ethiopia, I really do think it was Ethiopia. They did a test where people had goiters and a lack of iodine was known as the number one cause for causes of goiters. So they put iodine in the salt supply and the goiters started going down.
But here’s the interesting part. Hashimoto’s exploded. So goiters went down and people started getting Hashimoto’s. So it was like okay, iodine’s not a good thing for Hashimoto’s. In this country we are not iodine deficient. There’s no reason to have iodine in our table salt. So table salt is not a good thing. Iodine will increase your thyroid peroxidase [inaudible 00:02:44] like 70, 75%. It’s on par with eating gluten. For those of you who may not know this, there’s a side benefit of looking at the salt presentation here.
But salt in of itself is a trigger for autoimmune thyroid disease. Now, when I’m talking about these particular areas, they’re not just things I’ve seen in practice. They’re not just things I’ve seen taught in certain symposiums, but there’s been research on this and there’s meta-analysis done on this. What is a meta-analysis? It means they have looked at every single study that’s ever been done on salt ever. Those studies that say salt is good, salt is bad, salt is neutral. They look at them all and then they come up with a summation from evaluating all of that data.
The evaluation on salt was salt raises thyroid peroxidase antibodies by 35 to 50%. Personally, I ate a lot of salt and I was never one to put salt on foods, but there was a lot of salty foods around my house. There was different types of uncured meats that had salt in them. There was lunch meats that were fresh, but they had salt in them. Now I’ll buy low sodium lunch meats.
But the point is that salt not only can raise your blood pressure and if you stop eating it, it can lower your blood pressure. But it raises thyroid peroxidase antibodies every time you have a salty meal. So what I counsel my patients to do is to use 1,000 milligrams of salt every time you eat a salt… I’m sorry, did I say salt? I did. I counsel my patients to use 1,000 milligrams of potassium every time they eat a salty meal. Little basic chemistry, salt and potassium neutralize each other. They keep each other in balance and they have a lot to do with your pressure and your blood flow and so on and so forth. So I take 1,000 milligrams of potassium. I counsel my patients and take 1,000 milligrams of potassium every time they eat a salty meal. Hashimoto’s patient should take potassium every time they eat a salty meal.
Now, for years and years and years, I’ve used 1,000 milligrams of potassium. If you want a personal testimonial, I had high blood pressure. I was doing everything right. My blood pressure was still high. Maybe it was my job dealing with all you guys out there. So I started doing this and literally within five days, my blood pressure went from pretty darn high down to normal. In fact, my staff member who I had take my blood pressure every day thought the blood pressure cuff was broken, and she went and got another one and took it and it was like oh my God, your blood pressure’s totally normal.
So this was a game changer for me. Obviously was one of those people who was very sensitive to this trigger. I use 1,000. For those of you who are researchers, you might read 2000. You might read, take 2000 milligrams of potassium every time you have a salty meal. That’s new. I’ve just kind of heard that at a recent symposium in this past year. I have not moved up to 2000 milligrams of potassium because 1000 milligrams seems to been working with me with my patients for years. It neutralizes the effect, if they have high blood pressure helps to bring the blood pressure down.
Now, if you have normal blood pressure, it’s still okay. It’s not going to make your blood pressure low. But if you have low blood pressure, then my observation, I honestly have not read this anywhere. But my observation is if you have low blood pressure, I’ll usually start out people at two to 400 milligrams of salt every time they take a salty meal. If they start getting low blood pressure symptoms, their low blood pressure is either going lower, then we’ll stop. So low blood pressure people, you have a lot of uniquenesses to you and this is one of them.
So salt is a trigger for autoimmune thyroid disease. It raises thyroid peroxidase antibodies. Those are the antibodies that you are tested for that tells you one of the two things that you’re tested for that tells you if you have Hashimoto’s thyroid disease. It actually raises those thyroid peroxidase enzymes in the summation of this meta-analysis somewhere between 35 and 50%.
So what does that look like? It looks like you’re sitting there, you get jittery and shaky, and you’re thinking what did I eat? You’re looking and you’re like, geez, I ate a piece of salmon, and I had a salad and the salad had some vinegar on it and maybe it had a little bit of oil. Why am I firing up? Well, maybe the salmon was salty. So that’s what you got to start thinking. I eat bacon and eggs and man, that’s like the ultimate keto diet. I eat bacon and eggs and here I am. You’re not even thinking about that.
Maybe you eat that at six o’clock and at eight o’clock sitting there and you’re jittery and shaky because your thyroid is getting attacked and it’s putting out thyroid hormones. You’re sitting there going, why am I nervous? Why am I getting anxious? Why am I doing this? Not thinking it was the salt in that bacon that you ate an hour or two before.
It really is a big one because when you think about it, people were exposed to it all the time. I was eating salt all the time, but I never put salt on my food. But I was eating good food. So I was like I never put two and two together why that was why my blood pressure was so high. I mean, I meditate, I do all the fun stuff. I do everything I teach my patients, everything. I exercise, I eat. I walk my little dog for an hour. I mean, I do all that stuff, but I was eating salty foods and the salty foods were blowing up…
My blood pressure got up to 180 over 100, and it went down literally in five days to normal. 120 over 80, actually 117 over 78. It’s crazy. So it’s a big deal. It’s a big deal because we’re exposed to it so much and it’s probably one of the top five triggers for autoimmune thyroid disease. Yet, I don’t know if we’ve actually ever done a presentation on it. So we have done one now. So that is salt and it’s how it plays into being a trigger for autoimmune thyroid disease.


  1. Hi Dr Rutherford, is there a difference in the type of salt? Is Himalayan salt just as bad? I stopped using iodized table salt years ago, but I do use pink Himalayan salt.

  2. In this case salt is salt. Iodized salt is pretty much 2 triggers for a Hashimoto’s patient.

  3. Hello Dr. Rutherford,
    What form/type of potassium are you taking/recommending? Thank you

  4. I take and suggest Potassium Citrate from Pure.

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