wholesome health advice

Salt, the spark of life…


Without salt, there’d be no life.  Muscles would stop working, cognitive ability and memory would diminish, the heart would stop beating.

Our bodily fluid composition compares to ocean water with close to 97 percent sodium (Na), chloride (Cl) and trace minerals.  Since salt is necessary down to the cellular level, low saline levels result in disorders of endocrine system (glands), nervous system and viscera (organs). Each day, normal body processes reduce salt and other minerals, which then must be replaced.

Replenishing these vital minerals is easy using quality salts.  Sodium, the primary constituent of salt, is one of the three electrolytes (the other two being potassium and chloride) that maintains homeostasis, and conveys charge enabling nerve impulses plus muscle contractions.

Historically, salt was worth its weight in gold.  NaCl was one of the first industries and first international trade commodities; trade routes traversed the globe; and it was often used for money, thus coveted and sometimes fought over.   The word salary is a Latin derivative of salarium, which was money allotted to Roman soldiers to purchase salt.

It’s not just a savory flavor.  Salt acts as a food preservative; aids in digestion; makes a useful mouthwash, tooth powder and throat gargle; plus works as an antiseptic.

What type to buy/use?  This question is complicated, as there are so many salt options on the market ranging from basic table salt to celebrity salts to cultural salts; each claiming health benefits.  My answer is to look for salt that is unrefined with only one ingredient: salt. 

Yes:  Sea salt (evaporated ocean water) is recommended because it has minerals without harsh processing.  Though the mineral content varies depending on the harvesting location, sea salt has small amounts of calcium, potassium, magnesium, sulfur, zinc, and iron.  Additionally, according to time intensity profiles, less sea salt is needed to reach the same intensity level as table salt.  A good thing, since less than a teaspoon of salt per day is needed to satisfy bodily Na requirements.  Overuse of salt stresses kidneys, interferes with nutrient absorption and can increase blood pressure.

Colors:  Salt tinted pink, black or grey contains more trace minerals than white.

Brands: The two most famous unrefined and quality brands are Maldon and Fleur de Sel.

No:  Though most commonly consumed, highly processed, chemically-altered Kosher, table, or iodized salt is not recommended.  Stark white table salt contains iodine and additives such as sodium silicoaluminate or magnesium carbonate to aid pour-ability and prevent caking.  The USDA allows 2 percent preservatives and does not require listing on the label.  Refinement occurs with incredibly intense heat, sometimes up to 1,200 degrees (F).  The heat molecularly alters the salt (as with any food), requiring enhancement with synthetic vitamins and minerals.  These table salts are just not whole foods.

“Bread that this house may never know hunger, salt that life may always have flavor. ”
~It’s A Wonderful Life,(movie)1946

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