If you read a lot about nutrition, you hear about "giving up the white stuff". Most people associate this with sugar, which is correct. But, refined salt is another white food that will rob your body of health and your skin of its youthful glow. Natural sea salts, on the other hand, can actually be a lovely, health-promoting food. In this article, I will explain what makes the difference.
Salt has a very interesting history. It has been universally valued for millennia and was even treated like gold and traded like money at one time. This is because before the days of artificial refrigeration, the main method for preserving food was to treat it with salt. In some ancient societies, the roads and cities even developed as a result of the salt trade. It is where the word “salary” derived from, and the expression to be “worth one’s salt” means you are competent and deserve respect.
However, this is not the same white table salt you now can buy for 99 cents per pound at the corner store...
Salt shakers today are filled with “white poison” - no exaggeration. This refined salt has been treated with bleaching agents and purified at high temperatures, removing every natural mineral except sodium and chloride. Then more additives are mixed in, like anti-caking agents, ferrocyanide, aluminum, iodine, iron, polysorbate-80, propylene glycol, silicon dioxide, and sugar. By law, 2% of salt can contain additives.
Refined salt: STAY AWAY!
Many people associate salt with sodium and high blood pressure. Sodium works in concert with potassium to regulate fluid balance in your body. Because sodium is needed to maintain blood fluid volume, excesses can lead to increased blood volume and elevated blood pressure, especially when the kidneys do not clear it efficiently.
No real, whole food has a high salt content. Hidden salt in refined foods now makes up the majority of sodium consumed - much, much more than the amount added by people with a salt shaker. Foods like breads, crackers, chips, cheeses, peanut butter, salt-cured foods like pickles, canned foods, condiments, gravies, soda, nuts, restaurant foods, and processed meats are particularly high in salt. So, giving up highly processed foods will naturally decrease the amount of refined salt you eat by a significant margin.
Ancestral people did eat a diet rich in salt, but that was primarily from potassium alkalai salts found naturally and abundantly in non-grain plant foods. Diets were once high in potassium relative to sodium, but now with the advent of salty refined foods, a reversal has occurred, sodium is consumed in excess, and incidences of high blood pressure have skyrocketed. Excess fluid retention also contributes to many conditions associated with aging such as rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones, and gall bladder stones.
Beyond harm to your health, excess refined salt robs your beauty because it causes your body to retain fluid and causes your tissues to swell, making you look puffy and even slightly unhealthy. It makes your skin look dull and lackluster and will also make cellulite appear more prominent.
Natural Sea Salts
In contrast to refined salt, the naturally-occurring, unrefined salts used by ancestral people always had a slight gray, pink, or blue hue due to the presence of up to eighty different trace elements that are naturally found in seawater.
Sea salt is approximately 84 percent sodium chloride and 16 percent naturally-occurring trace minerals. This type of salt is not the kind associated with detrimental health effects; it can actually be a powerful healing substance. The balance and complexity of the trace minerals is the principal reason why the sodium in natural sea salts is much less likely to lead to high blood pressure and related problems. In fact, only 15% of the population is genuinely sensitive to sodium and need to severely limit their salt intake. The other 85% can enjoy moderate amounts of real sea salt. Because every person is different, you will need to determine which group you belong in and if you truly are sodium sensitive (with your doctor's guidance) - just be aware that if you have blood pressure issues, refined salt and refined foods may be to blame, not sea salt.
There are actually many studies that completely turn the dogma to avoid salt upside down. Decades of scientific research have failed to show the benefits of a low-salt diet, and in reality tend to show the opposite. Low-salt diets are even associated with higher cardiac risk across multiple studies. Also, if you come across scientific literature about salt, be sure to note if the study used refined salt or sea salt. It truly makes a world of difference. (See HERE for a list of salt studies & conclusions.)
What about iodine (which is necessary for thyroid health)? Sea salt does contain some natural iodine (but less than the added amounts in refined salt). Some of the best whole food sources of iodine include seafood, sea vegetables and seaweed (like kombu), cranberries, navy beans, strawberries, and dairy products. Some sea salts are also enriched with iodine.
Want even more info about "The Salt Controversy"? Click the button below to download a great paper written by a NY Professor of Medicine all about it. It's a fantastic and interesting read!
Jenny Yelle, MHNE Holistic Wellness Educator
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