As a Staunton natural health store, people ask us all kinds of health-related questions. From "What's the least non-toxic laundry detergent I can buy?" to "What can I do for my high cholesterol?"
But the one substance people love the most, second only to chocolate, is salt. It's also the one they feel most guilty consuming. So with a pained expression on their faces, they ask us, "Is salt really that bad for me?"
For years, salt has been vilified and medical professionals have strongly discouraged its consumption. But the times they are a changing. Slowly, the truth about salt intake and its benefits are emerging.
Not All Salt is Created Equal: The Dangers of Refined Salt
Refined table salt like Morton's is the same sodium source that the big food processors use to add salt to their foods.
This type of salt usually contains 99% sodium chloride, which is very concentrated. It has also been denatured, and is toxic to the human body.
The other 1% consists of anti-caking agents, aluminum, bleach, and ferrocyanide. Unfortunately, these are essentially heavy metals that are also toxic to the human body.
Their sole purpose is to extend the shelf life of the product. These added chemicals keep the salt from absorbing moisture while sitting on the grocery shelf.
Once eaten, refined table salt has a burning effect on your internal tissues, causing your body to retain water to protect itself.
In response, cells release water to help neutralize, dilute, and break down the salt. That, in turn, dehydrates and weakens them, causing cells to die prematurely.
Refined table salt is also partly responsible for diseases such as thyroid imbalances and metabolic dysfunction.
Is Reducing Sodium the Answer for Better Health?
Unless you have kidney disease, or you are truly salt sensitive and consuming salt raises your blood pressure, there is actually no clinical evidence to support a drastic reduction in salt intake.
In fact, a review of a study conducted by the Institute of Medicine failed to show any health benefits associated with consuming less than 2300 mgs/day of sodium.
Just like the war on fat, the war on salt does not take into consideration the unintended health risks of consuming too little salt.
When salt is drastically reduced, these health conditions can occur:
Insulin resistance (diabetes)
Cognition loss in older adults and neonates
Increased cardiovascular readmissions and mortality
Cravings for salt that are lifelong
Fractures, unsteadiness, and falls
The Delicate Balance of Potassium and Sodium in the Body
With 70% of the human body composed of salt water, salt is a necessary ingredient to live. What you may not know is this.
Sodium lives in a delicate balance with potassium in the body. Recent studies show that the ratio of sodium to potassium is an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease and hypertension.
Why? Potassium and sodium have opposite effects on heart function. While sodium can increase blood pressure, a high potassium intake can decrease blood pressure and relax blood vessels.
The problem is we don't eat enough potassium. And potassium is necessary for proper cell function, especially for heart health.
Worse, refined table salt disrupts the sodium to potassium ratio in your body.
Refined Salt and Processed Food
Most of the sodium that people eat comes from processed foods like soups, baked goods, fast foods, and deli meat.
For example, 3 1/2 ounces of fresh pork contains about 60 mg of sodium and roughly 340 mg of potassium before processing.
But after? That deli ham you see at the grocery store now has a whopping 920 mg of sodium and just 240 mg of potassium.
Only 11% of sodium intake comes from cooking real food and adding salt while it's cooking, or adding salt to your food at the dinner table.
For snack foods, food manufacturers happily play the "low sodium" game because it's much cheaper than trying to add potassium back into these nutritionally valueless foods.
Pretending to be a champion of healthier snacking is just a consumer ruse.
It buys into the longstanding myth that consumers need to limit salt intake. And it allows food companies to skate on the issue of balancing potassium intake, which is slashed during food processing.
The result is the devastating increase in obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and other serious health conditions.
Choose To Be Salt Smart Instead!
Choose the right salt and eat real food. These are the two most important tenets for regaining your health. Greatly limit processed foods. And when you do eat them, choose those that are minimally processed.
As for salt, here at Jewell's Naturals, we endorse and carry Selina Naturally, the Celtic Sea Salt® Brand.
Founded in 1976 by Belgian-American food scientist, Jacques DeLangre, PhD, he originated the natural sea salt industry in America, creating the Celtic Sea Salt® Brand.
Because this salt has been harvested with traditional methods (instead of harvested through crude oil methods), all of the 80 vital trace minerals and elements are preserved in a natural balance of minerals to sodium.
A naturally whole salt harvested from pristine coastal regions, it is completely unprocessed with a distinctive, elegant taste that is far superior to refined table salt.
What Celtic Salt Doesn't Have and Why It's Okay
In 1924, the government asked the Morton Salt Company to add iodine to their brand because residents in the regions of the Great Lakes and Pacific Northwest weren't getting enough iodine in their diets.
As a result, large numbers of people were developing goiters. Morton's obliged and the problem was resolved.
But the natural form of iodine is lost when it's manufactured. So again, Americans were consuming more chemicals as opposed to what Mother Nature created.
Celtic sea salt does not naturally contain iodine and it is never added. However, eating real food will give you all the iodine you need.
Add leafy greens, eggs, sweet potatoes, seaweed, fish, organic yogurt, raw, organic potatoes, strawberries, and cheese, to name just a few. It's very easy to do!
Want to taste Celtic sea salt before making the healthy switch? That's only fair! Come in to the store and we'll gladly let you try some.
We think you're going to love the difference!