Sodium ions (Na+) appear to increase at the site of skin infection, increasing local nitric oxide production to aid pathogen removal. And a high salt diet is demonstrated to promote sodium ion accumulation in the skin, strengthening the defense mechanism.
- Sodium ions accumulate at infected areas of the skin
- Salt appears to improve immune system activation
- More specifically, boosting macrophage activation (a type of white blood cell responsible for removing foreign invaders)
- High salt diet directly influences sodium ion storage in the skin
Additional Points of Interest:
- After infection of the skin with Leishmania major (an intracellular pathogen), mice fed low salt diet saw a non-resolving case of infection, while mice fed high sodium diets showed significant improvement at the site of infection.
- Salt appears to be a integral component of the skin barrier and can improve defense against infection.
- Sodium ions at the skin surface appear to directly boost antimicrobial defenses and strengthen the skin barrier.
- Relative increases in sodium ion concentration appear to act as a good indicator of infection.
There is a growing trend towards sodium reduction, yet there appear to be some potential dangers in drastic reductions of salt intake.
This study demonstrated that dietary salt may have valuable potential for improving skin barrier function by increasing sodium ion availability. And that sodium ions are an integral part of the skin barrier helping our bodies defend against foreign microbes.