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June 2, 2017
Salt has earned a bad reputation in recent years, but this ancient seasoning, consumed in moderation, is actually crucial for good health.
Humans are made up of about 72% water and 28% mineral salts and organic material (like bacteria, proteins and fatty acids.) As such, there are two “oceans” of water in the body. One ocean is held inside the cells of our bodies, and the other ocean is the sea of fluid existing outside of our cells.
Good health depends on a delicate balance between the volume of these two bodies of water, and this balance is achieved by salt—natural, unrefined mineral salts.
The typical modern, refined table salt can be compared to refined sugar and refined flour—it used to be a healthful, whole food, but our industrial food system has stripped and processed it into a detriment to our health.
Major salt producing companies mine unpalatable and impure rock salt from the earth, then dry it in huge, fossil-fuel-guzzling kilns with temperatures reaching 1200F degrees. This changes the salt’s chemical structure into pure sodium chloride, which is very different from natural salt which contains lots of trace minerals. After this extremely energy-intensive process that strips the trace nutrients out, they then put in additives like fluoride, synthetic iodine, as well as anti-caking agents.
The most commonly used anti-caking agent is E554 sodium aluminosilicate which comes with possible side effects such as constipation, along with many precautions if you have liver or kidney disease. Aluminum derivatives have also been implicated in a number of health conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease. All these additives can cause discoloration in refined salt, so bleaching agents are then used to restore the desirable white color.
It should be noted that additives like anti-caking agents are forbidden in organic food production. Although no salt has been certified organic, refined, processed salt would never make the cut.
Salt is critical to our health and is the most readily available nonmetallic mineral in the world. But our bodies are not designed to processed refined sodium chloride with synthetic additives since it has no nutritional value. In fact, refined table salt has been implicated as a cause of the Western epidemic of autoimmune disease!
In the end, generic table “salt” ends up being about 97.5 percent sodium chloride and a 2.5 percent balance containing an array of ingredients, including: (8)
Iodine to prevent goiters
MSG and/or white processed sugar to help stabilize the iodine
And aluminum derivatives, such as sodium silico-aluminate
There are actually 18 food additives that are allowed to be put into table salt. No one really knows what’s in this stuff, and calling it “salt” is a complete misrepresentation.
Ultimately, this processed “fake” salt puts people at risk of developing cardiovascular events and chronic disease because of elevated blood pressure and arteriosclerosis.
Unlike real salt, processed “salt” causes your body to retain fluids. Subsequently, it should be no surprise that people who use these products develop diabetes, gout and obesity more than people who don’t.
Additionally, most table “salt” is iodized and puts people at risk for over-iodization, which has been shown to abnormally enlarge the thyroid gland and cause thyroid problems, such as thyroid-related autoimmune disorders.
[McCarron DA. Dietary sodium and cardiovascular and renal disease risk factors: dark horse or phantom entry? Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2008 Jul;23(7):2133-7.] [Bagcchi S. Hypothyroidism is still prevalent in India despite promotion of iodised salt, study shows. British Medical Journal. 2013 Dec 24;347:f7693.]
Excess iodine in the diet can also lead to nausea, headaches and unhealthy hormone levels.
So when the American Heart Association says that salt is bad for you, I strongly believe that this is correct when referring to table “salt,” but not a high-quality unrefined sea salt.
Salt is most effective in stabilizing irregular heartbeats and, contrary to the misconception that it causes high blood pressure, it is actually essential for the regulation of blood pressure—in conjunction with water. Naturally, the proportions are critical.
Salt is vital to the extraction of excess acidity from the cells in the body, particularly the brain cells.
Salt is vital for balancing the sugar levels in the blood; a needed element in diabetics.
Salt is vital for the generation of hydroelectric energy in cells in the body. It is used for local power generation at the sites of energy need by the cells.
Salt is vital for absorption of food particles through the intestinal tract.
Salt is vital for the clearance of the lungs of mucus plugs and sticky phlegm, particularly in asthma and cystic fibrosis.
Salt is vital for clearing up congestion of the sinuses.
Salt is a strong natural antihistamine.
Salt is essential for the prevention of muscle cramps.
Salt is vital to prevent excess saliva production to the point that it flows out of the mouth during sleep. Needing to constantly mop up excess saliva indicates salt shortage.
Salt is absolutely vital to making the structure of bones firm. Osteoporosis, in a major way, is a result of salt and water shortage in the body.
Salt is vital for sleep regulation. It is a natural hypnotic.
Salt on the tongue will stop persistent dry coughs.
Salt is vital for the prevention of gout and gouty arthritis.
Salt is vital for maintaining sexuality and libido.
Salt is vital for preventing varicose veins and spider veins on the legs and thighs.
Salt is vital to the communication and information processing of nerve cells the entire time that the brain cells work—from the moment of conception to death.
The reason salt is often perceived as unhealthy (in large amounts), is that it can bind water in the bloodstream and raise blood pressure. But even though studies have suggested that lowering salt intake can reduce blood pressure by 1-5.4 mm/Hg, there is no evidence that lowering salt prevents heart attacks, stroke or death (1, 2).
The great majority of sodium in the Western diet comes from processed foods. If you eat mostly whole, unprocessed foods then you don’t need to worry about adding some salt to your meals.
Natural, unrefined salts can be found in whole/natural food stores, as well as online. I have tried a variety of Sea Salts from around the world, as well as Himalayan Pink and Redmond Real Salt from prehistoric sea beds in Utah. All taste about the same, vary in color and moisture content, and are equally composed of sodium (Na) and chlorine (Cl).
Natural, unrefined salts do not have caking agents nor added iodine. Therefore, if you choose not to eat regular iodine-enriched table salt, then make sure you’re eating some other foods that are high in iodine, like fish, dairy, eggs and seaweed.