Salt – An Essential Nutrient for Your Health

salt.Salt has gotten a bad rap in the last few years because it is attributed to increased blood pressure. There is now conflicting information as to if salt is the cause of blood pressure problems or if it is just an antagonist. Let me elaborate further, the body requirement for salt or sodium is approximately 1800mg –3000mg per day. The latest statistic shows that Americans are consuming anywhere from 10000-17000mg per day. As you can see this is far greater than what is required by the body and this amount does affect the body negatively. Unfortunately most of this salt is hidden in foods that are already prepared and that makes it harder for one to regulate. This article will deal with quality issues when choosing the type of salt to use and we will discuss some of the health benefits and detriments of salt.

All salt originates from the sea. Dry salt beds were at one time part of the oceans. The mineral content of dry salt beds does not match the mineral content of sea water mainly due to surface run off over thousands of years. Seawater is a natural source for dry sea salt and the mineral profile is very similar to our bodies. So how is salt processed? This is a good question because most salt that we buy is refined and processed with numerous chemicals. Let me elaborate, refined salt can have up to as many as 11 different additives. In the refining process 82 trace minerals and essential macronutrients are forcibly removed leaving only sodium and chloride. The following chemicals can be found in refined salt: ferrocyanide, yellow prussiate of soda, tricalcium phosphate, alumino-calcium silicate, and sodium alumino-silicate. These chemicals prevent moisture from forming in the box etc. Dextrose, yes sugar is added as a stabilizer and a toxic form of iodine approximately 20 times the natural occurring amount of iodine to prevent goiter is added. These unnatural chemicals have been suspect in leading to hardening of the arteries not to mention the toxic effects on the liver.

Sea salt is the preferred choice when selecting a salt product. Sea salt is produced by evaporating seawater in huge bed and then purified to remove unwanted materials. The only substance added is magnesium chloride as an anticaking agent. People ask me about the iodine issue and I always refer them to other forms of iodine that can be used or to begin consuming sea vegetables which have natural iodine.

I consider sea salt to be a living salt. This means that it has a positive effect on the body. Lets look at this a bit closer as how salt affects body systems and tissues. A complex salt solution surrounds and circulates throughout the body cells, forms the plasma of our blood, and constitutes the lymphatic and duodenal fluids. In traditional healing systems such as TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) or Ayurveda, salt strengthens the kidneys and bladder. It helps support the kidneys ability to eliminate waste form the blood and maintain proper pH. It is known to support immune functions and to alkalinize the spleen and digestive functions. Energetically it is known to strengthen courage and will power. Of course, when salt is imbalanced it negatively causes constriction of the kidneys and contracts circulation to all the organs. Lack of will power and fear are attributed to excesses of salt.

The benefits of using sea salt in European medical circles have shown the following benefits. Restoration of hemoglobin count, normalized heart functions, improved muscular tone, enhanced functions of the parathyroid and adrenal glands, the nervous system better assimilation, gastric acid neutralization, angina and cancer. They again are using live or real salt.

Another key mineral that works in harmony with sodium is the mineral potassium. The sodium potassium ratio is very important. On a cellular level, potassium resides on the inside of cells while sodium permeates the fluid on the outside and between cells. When potassium to sodium ratios are equal the body’s water and acid/alkaline balance is stable and nerves and muscles function properly. When this equilibrium is out of balance neuromuscular functions decrease and the body becomes weak, muscles lose tone and reflexes become poor. Because sodium usually is in excess, potassium has a curative role. An example of this is when treating high blood pressure. Salt is restricted and potassium supplementation is implemented. Increasing potassium rich foods like green leafy vegetables, all types of potatoes, soy products, millet and other grains, beans and most fruits will help keep ratios in balance. There is no standard for this potassium to sodium ratio but eating a whole food diet usually is adequate.

Some of the signs of excess and deficiency of salt are as follows. Excess consumption is known to elevate blood pressure, cause ulcers and cancer of the stomach, edema, cravings, and calcium deficiency. Early signs are unusual thirst, dark urine and complexion, clenched teeth and bloodshot eyes. Insufficient salt sometimes due to low salt or restricted salt diets cause reduced strength and sex drive, intestinal gas, vomiting and muscular atrophy.

One question I get regularly is why people who crave salt. The adrenal glands working with the kidney help to maintain how stress affects us. Salt is needed to balance an adrenal insufficiency problem that is usually caused from an over consumption of refined foods like sugar, caffeine, soda pop, alcohol and other mineral depleting substances. The mineral magnesium has a role in this salt craving issue. The above lifestyle imbalances usually deplete magnesium level in the body. When magnesium levels are low the body craves salt as a way to try to bring about balance. There is a definite correlation between the consumption of sugar and salt. The way to curb these cravings is to reduce both at the same time.

A good book to read about the benefits and history of salt is Seasalt’s Hidden Power by Jacques De Langre.

Share Button