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The Savory Truth About Salt
Is salt bad for you? Does salt cause high blood pressure? Or is it just medical dogma?
Most everyone has heard at one time or another that you need to reduce your salt intake, or salt causes high-blood pressure, or people with high blood pressure should reduce their sodium intake.
This is something I have heard many times myself, but as with any mainstream medical philosophy, I like to question where this information came from. I want to know the truth! I am not just going to sit back and listen to what other people are parroting as if it is some holy medical truth. I am going to take their advice with a grain of salt, until I research it myself and find out the whole story.
Salt Is Essential
Salt is an important nutrient needed for many functions of your body. Without a proper intake of salt you couldn’t even digest your food. This is because salt is needed to make hydrochloric acid, which acidifies your stomach to a pH of 1-2.
A few of the other functions salt takes a part in are: carrying nutrients into and out of your cells, helps your brain send signals to your muscles, is a large component of blood plasma, extracellular fluid, lymphatic fluid, and amniotic fluid.
Salt, Good Or Bad?
Salts are electrically neutral, this means that they are comprised of negative and positive ions. Salt is essential for life and you can’t live without it. Every function of your body requires salt to a certain degree. Naturally derived salts from the earth are good for you and contain many trace minerals along with sodium chloride.
When people talk about how salt or sodium is bad for you, they are referring to refined table salt. Regular table salt is highly processed. It is stripped of it’s valuable nutrients, which manufacturers then sell to supplement companies. Once all the mineral are stripped away and the salt has been chemically cleaned; they then add ‘free flowing’ agents such as talc, ferrocyanide, and silica aluminate.
The end result is far from anything natural and what you have is a substance that your body doesn’t recognize. This new form of salt is now inorganic sodium chloride, that now can harm the delicate balance of fluids in your body. When you consume an excess amount of common table salt it causes your body to retain fluid in your tissue. Your body requires the use of up to 23 grams of cellular water for every gram of excess sodium chloride that it has to neutralize
Processed foods contain high amounts of sodium. Manufacturers put a ridiculous amount of processed salt in their products because it is a cheap way to extend shelf life, add flavor to nutrient deficient ‘junk’ food, acts as a stabilizer and helps bind other ingredients together. Sodium is also a component of other toxic substances found in the garbage some people call food such as MSG, sodium nitrate, sodium saccharin and sodium benzoate. These other substances will increase your sodium intake even more.
High Blood Pressure
While consuming sodium in excess is not good for you, there have been studies performed that find no correlation between high salt intake and hypertension. One such study was headed by Dr. Alexander Gordon Logan, an epidemiologist and high blood pressure specialist at the University of Toronto. This study concluded that low-salt diets had virtually no affect on people with normal blood pressure and did not reduce their risk for heart disease or stroke. 97% of the people with high blood pressure who restricted their salt intake did not translate into better health. Only 3% resulted in a small drop of 3.7 points.
The Japanese who live longer and have half the heart disease rates of Americans, routinely consume 2-3 times the amount of salt that we do. The theory that salt causes hypertension is dying, the evidence for it is lacking. Their theory for the link between salt an hypertension is this: Salt can make you to retain extra fluid. When you retain more fluid it temporarily increases blood pressure. High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Because we all know that heart disease and strokes are fatal, then they assume that salt is bad as well and you must reduce your intake.
Many doctors and researcher are now finding that high blood pressure may be linked to certain mineral deficiencies such as calcium and magnesium. One study concluded that magnesium supplementation lowered blood pressure in healthy adults with hypertension. Calcium and magnesium work together to regulate heart beat and blood vessel dilation. Deficiencies in calcium weakens your body’s ability to perform these tasks.
Sea salts are natural salts and the only kind you probably want to consume. Beware of imposters, sea salt should never be bright white. Many manufacturers sell sea salt that has been stripped of all its minerals. Natural sea salt should never be bright white. It is the mineral content of salt that lends to its different colors. The colors of unadulterated sea salt can range from off white to gray, black, pink and even red. Reputable companies will never add anti-caking agents or other impurities.
One of my favorite salts I use every day is Pink Himalayan Sea Salt. It is unrefined and contains around 84 minerals and trace elements, including iodine. Himalayan Salt is a pure, hand-mined salt that is derived from ancient sea salt deposits, and it is believed to be the purest form of salt available.
What About You? Tell me what your favorite salt is and how sodium has effected you in the comments below.
Photo Credit Freedigitalphotos.net“A Glass Salt Shaker” by Mister GC