Salt has developed a pretty bad rap in recent years, but before you totally shun, diss, or eliminate salt completely from your diet, make sure you’ve got all the facts.
Let’s not forget that salt is absolutely essential for life and the proper functioning of your body. Salt plays a vital role in many parts of the body and since we regularly excrete it through sweating and urination, we need a constant supply to replace it. We need on average, however, only 1.5g of salt per day to keep the body working properly.
The real problem with salt is that the mass majority of people are A) ingesting waaaaaaay too much of it, and B) simply don’t realize that there is an enormous difference between the standard, white, refined table/cooking salt that most people are accustomed to using, and the real, natural, mineral-rich, health-promoting salt designed by nature to support our bodies’ healthy functioning.
The truth is, common table salt has almost nothing in common with natural, full-spectrum salt. Full-spectrum salt is rich in about 84 essential trace minerals, whereas the refined, white table salt that’s probably in your kitchen right now has been “chemically cleaned.”
What that means is that they essentially strip all of those healthy minerals out of the salt, leaving behind just pure sodium chloride before introducing chemicals additives, moisture absorbents, bleaching it, heating it to over 12000 degrees farenheit, and then returning just one mineral- iodine.
Apparently, in the early 20th century, doctors noticed that people who ate refined white table salt, stripped of all nutrients, started to suffer chronic degenerative diseases such as goiter, which they discovered was caused by the lack of iodine in the salt. So, the salt industry decided, after stripping the 84 natural, beneficial minerals from salt, to go ahead and artificially add iodine back into the salt and promoted it as a new product- “iodized salt.” Which brings up a question in my mind: why would anyone want to eat salt that’s been artificially enriched with ONE mineral when they could be eating salt that naturally contains 84 minerals?
Anyways, back to the salt processing story…
What we’re left with after all that processing is an unnatural chemical form of pseudo-salt that your body is going to have a really hard time processing- it’s the cheap ‘white bread’ of the mineral world, a meer shadow of its former salty glory.
For every gram of sodium chloride that your body cannot process and get rid of, your body has to pull 23 times that amount of water from it’s own cells in order to neutralize the unnatural sodium chloride. The result is an intracellular fluid imbalance in the cells and an over burdened elimination system. Consuming common table salt, then, causes excess fluid build up in your body tissues, which contributes to cellulite, edema, high blood pressure, rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney and gall bladder stones and more.
When you consider that the average person consumes 4-6g of sodium chloride each day, and heavy users can ingest as much as 10g in a day, and you remember that the average daily requirement of your body for salt is only 1.5g, it’s clear that this is a serious problem.
So where’s all that salt coming from? No, it’s not just from the salt shaker on your table. Most of the salt in our diet we get by default from processed and manufactured foods.
The American Heart Association says up to 75% of our sodium intake comes from processed foods such as tomato sauce, soup, condiments, canned foods, and prepared mixes. And salt isn’t the only high-sodium chemical in our diet — there’s also baking soda, baking powder, and MSG. On food labels, you’ll also see it in disguise as other ingredients like disodium phosphate, sodium alginate, sodium benzoate, and so on.
So, what can we do about this salty problem?
Well, for starters, avoid processed food products as much as possible (notice how I mention that in almost every one of my articles? Might wanna pay attention to that one). After that, keep the salt use to a minimum and be sure that the only salt you do use is 100% organic, natural, unrefined, full-spectrum salt.
The best way to tell if your salt is really unrefined
and full-spectrum is to look at the color. If it’s pure white, it’s not full-spectrum. Celtic Sea Salt, for example (which is really good salt) has a brownish, sandy color. Pink Himalayan Sea Salt (another of my favorites) is a sort of sandy, rose color. All the truly natural full-spectrum salts are varieties of sandy, brownish, pink or gray in color and they are usually too coarse to be used in salt shaker (so you may want to invest in a salt grinder).
Also, it’s important to be aware of the current “sea salt” scam. You’ve probably noticed a lot of processed salt companies now claiming to offer “sea salt.” The truth is that virtually all salt is sea salt because it all came from a sea at one time or another in the Earth’s history. Therefore, the term “sea salt” is a bunch of hype and has become essentially meaningless. White processed salt can still be called “sea salt” even though it is devoid of full-spectrum sea minerals.
Remember those 84 different trace minerals I mentioned that can be found in full-spectrum salt? Heres a tip: often times, if you feel as though you’re craving chips or salty snack foods, it’s actually a craving for those minerals- not the sodium. Your body may be trying to tell you that you’re deficient in real salt minerals and need to correct your nutritional deficiency. Sprinkling a small amount of full-spectrum salt on your un-processed meals (steamed veggies, fresh fruit smoothies, etc.) can actually satisfy your cravings and reduce your consumption of unhealthy snack foods.
My personal favorite way of getting these minerals is to simply keep a small dish of natural salt on my kitchen counter, then, when I have a salt craving, I simply lick the end of my finger, dip it in the salt, and touch a small amount to my tongue. This is usually enough to stop the salt craving, and I havn’t overloaded my system with too much sodium.
Remember, although natural salt is essential for your body’s functioning, an excess is bad for your health. The World HealthOrganisation (WHO) has found that a salt intake of more than 6g per day is linked to high blood pressure and if you show symptoms of high blood pressure, be sure to check with your naturopathic physician before adding salt to your diet.
This information brought to you by your friendly neighborhood Austin Acupuncturist, Melanie Irvine, L.Ac., MAOM, owner Turning Point Wellness. For more info about how Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, and natural nutrition can help you achieve vibrant health and well-being. Feel free to visit my website, www.TurningPointAcupuncture.net for more details and direct contact information.
Mike Adams, The Health Ranger, 5-5-10, ” Why Pink Himalayan Crystal Salt is is so much better for your health than processed table salt,” http://www.naturalnews.com/028724_Himalayan_salt_sea.html
Paul Louis, 4-20-09, “Confronting Salt Confusion,” http://www.naturalnews.com/026080_salt_sodium_health.html
Mercola.com, “The 13 Amazing Health Benefits of Himalayan Crystal Salt,the Purest Salt on Earth” http://products.mercola.com/himalayan-salt/