Salt often gets a bad rap thanks to the American Heart Association tying it to high blood pressure and heart disease; but should we take the Daily dosage of 2300 mg of sodium with a grain of salt? Is salt really bad for you? The current dietary guidelines and recommendations are based on unproven theories and there is a quite a bit of research refuting these theories and proving that salt is actually good for you. Obviously, I am not a doctor and if you have questions about salt you should consult your physician. Everything I share with you is based on many years of research, reading and my own personal experimentation and experience. I do think it’s important to delve into the notion that salt is good for you because it has been around for thousands of years and is a mineral that all traditional cultures have relied on from everything from indigestion to tooth aches. The health benefits of salt date as far back as 5th Century BC in historical Buddhist scriptures.
Salt is made up of two essential minerals: sodium and chloride. Chloride is needed in the production of stomach acid, helping with digestion of food and absorbing nutrients. All traditional cultures ate salt because sodium and chloride regulate muscle contractions, nerve function, blood pressure and fluid balance. We need salt for digestion, brain function, adrenal gland and for the cellular biochemistry of our cells.
What happens when you limit your salt intake? It’s not a good scenario… low sodium diets can lead to headaches, dizziness, fatigue, weight gain, sugar cravings, mood swings and even erectile dysfunction. Enough said. No one wants to be experiencing any of these symptoms but even more compelling are all the health benefits of salt. Especially if you are an athlete or exercise, the recommended 2300 MG a day leads to salt deficiency if you exercise an hour a day. I want to preface this with not all salt is created the same or should be given the same health consideration. Eating processed foods loaded with sodium does not count. Nor does white, processed table salt. The real health benefits come from sea salt – which is the purest form of salt and is unprocessed since it is obtained naturally from the sea. Real sea salt is darker than table salt due to a high mineral content from the lining of the body of water where the salt was harvested from. Depending on where the salt was produced can cause the salt to have different color, texture and tastes. Some of my favorites include pink Himalayan salt, flaky sea salt, Redmont Real Salt and Fleur de sel se salt.
One of the leading benefits to consuming real salt is that it aids in the digestion of your food and releases an enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates. Consuming sea salt produces hydrochloride acid in your stomach. Sea salt aids in the production of hydrochloric acid in your stomach that facilitates the breakdown of food to provide healthy digestion. Without sufficient levels of hydrochloride acid, you are setting yourself up for all sorts of stomach distress such as bloating, heartburn, gas and stomach pain…and honestly…NO ONE needs that!!
If healthy digestion isn’t reason enough to re-evaluate salt and its health benefits.. the fact that it boosts the immune system certainly is something to consider. Given our current health crisis over the past 18 months, it is worth mentioning that sea salt boosts the immune system due to its alkalizing qualities. By alkaling the body, salt helps keep bacterial and viral infections at bay. Also, real salt has mineral deposits such as magnesium, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, iodine and zinc which helps in the prevention of allergies, fever, colds and flu. Salt is also a very effective remedy to clear mucus and plem and helps relieve the symptoms of a sore throat, congestion and sinus issues. I am a HUGE fan of using salt and a Netty pot to help with sinus issue, sore throat and also preventing illness..but I will save that topic for another time because the benefits of salt and a Netty pot are worthy of its own blog post!
Salt is one of the best remedies for reducing pain from inflammation, muscle pain and arthritis. The benefits of soaking in a warm bath with sea salts (Epsom Salt) is well known and widely used for pain relief. However, what most people don’t realize is that there are anti-inflammatory benefits to ingesting sea salt and the reduction of pain due to its strong anti-inflammatory qualities. This is especially helpful for athletes in their muscle recovery and performance and without sufficient salt, athletes risk possible heat stroke and decreased athletic performance. When athletes experience muscle cramps during a game or workout, it is often due to the loss of electrolytes from sweating. My kids will tell you that I am the biggest hater of Gatorade and other types of fake and toxic electrolyte beverages and I am a big advocate of adding 1 teaspoon of real salt into a cup of water before a game or workout to prevent muscle cramps and electrolyte loss instead of the unhealthy but unfortunately popular alternatives.
Lastly..you will learn from this blog that everything I share ultimately leads back to anti-aging. And of course….salt has some benefits when it comes to aging. A diet that is deficient in salt can lead to intense sugar cravings which can lead to poor dietary and food choices; often leading to weight gain, poor skin tone and dehydrated skin. That is a fast path toward looking older and I am not in the business of looking older – I want to help you look younger. Salt deficiency can also lead to anxiety and lack of sleep. One of the main ingredients in sea salt is magnesium; which has been proven to help calm the nerves and aid in better sleep and mental health. There are many magnesium supplements that tout relaxation and sleep aids but honestly, this level of calm can be achieved by having enough salt in your diet without all the fancy powders added to you water. And let’s not forget salt as the best scrub and exfoliate for you skin. Salt is an amazing tool to helping your skin look hydrated, glowing and firm.
Of course, you should always do your research and talk to your doctor if you have certain health limitations that would affect your ability to consume salt; but for most people, the benefits of consuming too much salt out ways any potential risks for most people. If you end up consuming too much salt, your kidneys eliminate the excess salt. If you want to know more about this topic, one of my favorite IG finds is Dr. James DiNicolantonio. He is the author of “The Salt Fix”, “The Immunity Fix” and “The Mineral Fix” and delves much deeper into the world of salt and the importance of this mineral to your overall health.