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by Tammera J. Karr, PhD, BCIH, BCHN, Certified Gluten Practitioner
Every so often there is a media blitz on the dangers of a high salt diet, but they always seem to leave out the number one source of salt in the American diet is processed foods, diet sodas and fast food. The reports go on about, “salt is bad for us, it leads to heart, kidney and vascular disease – everyone should be on a low-salt diet”. The federal government and the American Medical Associations in 2012 made public announcements about the dangers of high salt diets only to have research come out within weeks showing the errors in the “salt is bad for you” frenzy.
Next up comes all the news reports and opinions that “salt is salt”, well any rancher will argue that one with you or your local farm supply wouldn’t have, a variety of versions of salt and mineral blocks.
Recently I made a trip with a friend and family to OMSI, on display was a stunning collection of photos taken over 15 years by a National Geographic photographer George Steinmetz, desert landscapes, salt flats and the culture or communities living or working in these harsh environments. It once more reminded me of the history of man and his need for real salt.
When we look back at history we see salt was so valuable entire civilizations developed from the collecting, and trading in this commodity. Salzburg Germany is named after salt, Roman soldiers were paid in salt; hence the saying “he’s not worth his salt”. The earliest known writings about salt occurred 5,000 years ago in China. 3,500 years ago Egyptians recorded salt production in paintings. Salt is so important to life, animals will travel great distances to get to it.
Sixty percent of the body’s sodium is stored in the fluids surrounding the cell and ten percent inside the cell. Sodium is the principal negatively charged ion in our cells responsible for the conduction and regulation of electricity (energy), making it the primary electrolyte. Some clinicians believe salt is alkalizing, thus reducing acidosis. David Brownstein, MD, has found clinically that many individuals with high blood pressure improve when placed back on “unrefined” salt. (Salt, Your Way to Health by David Brownstein, MD ISBN# 978-0-9660882-4-3) The benefits of “unrefined” salt in the human body work together with water – they go hand in hand. The human body is seventy percent water, the brain contains eighty percent water; we also contain about 250 grams of salt in an adult and 14 grams in a baby. Water and salt are necessary for metabolism, detoxification, hormone function, immune and nervous system function.
The first report of a relationship between salt and hypertension occurred in 1904, over the next fifty years animal studies supported the hypothesis. However no-one looked at the amount of salt given to the animals and the form of salt used, making the salt=high blood pressure correlation suspect.
Not all Salt is Good for You
In today’s world of commercial foods salt truly is a concern. Not because of the use of salt but because of the kind of salt used and the chemicals used to clean and purify the salt from all contaminants including minerals. Salt isn’t white, nor does it flow easily; this is the result of chemical processing. Some of the chemicals used in salt refining are: sulfuric acid, and chlorine, anti-caking agents like sodium ferrocyanide, ammonium citrate and aluminum silicates and dextrose. “Unrefined” sea salt from companies like Selina Naturally who have Celtic sea salt, and Himalayan Crystal salt from Natural Health International, may contain over 80 key and trace minerals. Key and trace minerals are essential to health, they are the foundation of every biochemical response in the body. Standard table salt is straight sodium chloride, and at best has had iodine added along with the aforementioned chemicals.
Celtic sea and Himalayan salt can be useful in the detoxification of harmful chemicals from the body. However, it is important to be sure of the purity, just because it has one of these names on the label doesn’t mean it is “clean, or produced safely” many of the Himalayan sources are tools of war, slavery and unsafe mining practices. Bromine is one such chemical found in processed foods and drinks like Mountain Dew. Bromine bumps iodine off cell receptor sites affecting healthy thyroid function. People who ingest enough bromine feel dull, apathetic and have difficulty concentrating, may have headaches, depression and irritability. Bromine has also been linked to breast cancer. Salt competes with bromine in the kidneys for re-absorption, a low salt diet allows for greater amounts of bromine to be absorbed.
You should not add salt while cooking, but do have it available on the table to add fresh to the meal when eating, especially in the summer months. Use common sense about being out in the sun, slop on coconut oil to protect your skin, and salt makes a great skin rub to remove dry-skin before a shower.
To Your Good Health & Fresh Real Food and Summer
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