What do you think when you hear the word salt? Some of us would think of the difference a small sprinkle can make to our chips, some would think “high blood pressure/stroke”, but would you think that it could play a role in protecting you from bugs?
Urm, well yes actually. If like me you regularly came home from playing with cuts and scratches on your knees and elbows then cotton wool dipped in salt water was the norm. But apart from knowing that the salt water somehow helped I could not have told you how.
Published in the journal Cell metabolism, researchers looked at activation of macrophages, a type of white blood cell that engulf broken bits of cells and bugs trying to get into your body. They found that activation of these macrophages in the presence of high salt concentrations led to a better defence and that the body naturally increased the salt concentration around wounds.
And why is this in a blog about food? It seems that a high salt diet can also boost the activation of these macrophages and so give your body a better antimicrobial defence. The question is, what would get you first, the stroke brought on by the high salt diet or one of your scraps turning septic. I think I will stick to dabbing it on the wound.