The literature on salt intake and insulin sensitivity presents a mixed picture, as some studies have shown an increase, whereas others have shown a decrease, in insulin action as sodium intake is enhanced. In some cases, this may relate to the study of salt intake in patients with co-morbidities such as hypertension or diabetes. In the present study, we selected healthy normotensive lean volunteers who underwent a euglycaemic clamp following 6 days of a low-salt diet (20 mmol sodium daily) and, subsequently, 6 days of a high-salt diet (200 mmol sodium daily). Our results show an increase in insulin-mediated glucose disposal during euglycaemic clamp conditions that was significantly higher following the high-salt diet compared with the low-salt diet (7.41±0.41 compared with 6.11±0.40 mg·kg−1 of body weight·min−1 respectively; P=0.03). We measured calf blood flow before and during insulin infusion (no significant change after the two dietary salt interventions was detected) and plasma non-esterified fatty acids (also no significant differences were detected). We observed the expected increases in renin concentration and aldosterone activity in subjects on the low-salt diet, and also observed a significantly less increase in plasma noradrenaline concentration during euglycaemic insulin infusion following the high-salt compared with the low-salt diet. We propose that the 4–5-fold increase in serum aldosterone and the greater increase in plasma noradrenaline concentration following the low-salt intervention compared with the high-salt period may have contributed to the differences in insulin sensitivity following the adjustment in dietary sodium intake.

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