Is Sodium Worth Its Salt?

Most of us know that salt can cause high blood pressure, strokes, calcium deficiency, osteoporosis, weight gain, fluid retention, stomach ulcers and more. With all this bad press, it is easy to believe that we should eradicate salt from our diet altogether. But, not so fast – here is the other side of the coin.

We cannot survive without salt. The tongue even has a special sensor for detecting it. Lack of salt causes poor heart rhythms, cramps and spasms. Sodium regulates blood sugar, helps thyroid and adrenal function and activates the brain’s glial cells. It plays an important part in our blood and lymphatic fluid. It helps produce hydrochloric acid, which is needed to digest protein, as well as aiding nerve and muscle function.

Salt is important for cell health. It maintains the fluid between the cells (extracellular fluid) while potassium, which can also be found in unrefined sea salt, maintains the fluid inside the cells (intracellular fluid). It is important that both fluids are kept in balance to allow nutrients and waste to pass through the cell membranes easily. When the fluid is sodium-deficient, cells cannot function properly.

Like many foods, our bodies need salt in moderation, and it should be taken in a natural unprocessed form.

Refined or Unrefined Salt?
Refined or processed table salt is actually an industrial by-product which is why it is so cheap. The chemical industry heats natural salt to 1200°F with aluminum and chemicals in order to remove the valuable trace elements. What is left is sodium chloride plus traces of the additives used in the refining process such as dextrose, anticaking agent and aluminum. To make it look more attractive, this remaining salt is then bleached to make it white. No wonder it is not particularly beneficial to our health!

Most people choose sea salt, believing it to be a healthy alternative to “ordinary” table salt. However it needs to be unrefined sea salt, otherwise it is no healthier than table salt. Unrefined sea salt will contain about 82% sodium chloride, plus another 50 essential minerals including magnesium, calcium, iodine, selenium and potassium. These essential elements are necessary for fluid balance and for replenishing electrolytes lost through sweat and other natural processes.

How Much Salt is Healthy?
The average American individual takes in 2-3 teaspoons of salt per day as a hidden additive, without even adding it as a condiment at the table. This is 4,000-6,000 mg, which is well above the FDA’s recommended daily limit of 2,400 mg. By avoiding an abundance of fast food and over-processed food that are laden with sodium chloride, it is easier to keep your salt intake to healthier levels.

Replacing chemically altered table salt with unrefined sea salt in your cooking and as a condiment, you will be closer to achieving the correct salt requirements you require along with all the other trace minerals that are essential to a healthy body.

Sources:
http://wellnessbywendy.wordpress.com/2011/05/02/sodium-is-essential-to-life/
http://butterbeliever.com/2011/06/20/is-the-word-sea-in-front-of-my-salt-good-enough/
http://blog.j-dc.com/2011/04/salt-farm-35-gourmet-sea-salts-so-delicious-you-won%E2%80%99t-need-food/
http://grist.org/food/2011-05-26-change-in-season-why-salt-doesnt-deserve-its-bad-rap/

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