Low sodium products have recently emerged in the grocery store as a way to achieve a healthy blood pressure and weight. These products, in combination with the amount of publicity low-sodium diets have received, have created a low sodium empire that affect the way we season our meals, cook and preserve food, and buy. Unfortunately, salt has been given an all-over bad rap based on the modern product, refined salt, that is so incredibly marketable, long-lasting and easy to produce.
”]To be clear: I am not promoting a high-sodium diet based on cheez-its and table salt at the average chain restaurant. This kind of salt is devoid of nutrients and contains chemicals that harm the immune system and dehydrate the body.
First, it is essential to go over the difference in refined v. unrefined salt:
Refined Salt Facts *-
- the salt refining process includes mechanical harvesting, mechanical evaporation, chemical treatment to remove “impurities” aka minerals [these treatments often include sulfuric acid or chlorine], high heat compression and evaporation [which disrupts the molecular structure of the salt], and finally, the moisture that remains is removed in a “fluidized-bed dryer.” all of this for the sake of a clean pour!
- up to 2% of “food-grade” salt [refined] may contain anti-caking or conditioning agents. these agents are products which have been proven to have no positive effects in the body, including ferro-cyanide, ammonium citrate, and aluminum silicate.
- salt is refined to increase shelf life from a reasonable amount of time to forever.
- the all-white look of refined salt is considered “clean” and is accepted in all kitchens.
- the refining process will remove impurities inherent in the salt if it is collected from a polluted area.
Unrefined Salt Facts –
- in a quality unrefined salt, such as Celtic Sea Salt, the salt should be clean upon harvesting, therefore negating the need for the “cleansing” of the refining process
- the salt should contain all of the natural minerals and elements associated with its origin.
- no chemicals are used in the production of high quality, unrefined salt.
- unrefined salt is a whole, natural food that can be highly utilized in the body.
- This form of salt contains a healthy balance of sodium and over 80 other trace elements that help the body digest and utilize the sodium.
So, why not just cut all salt out and save all the trouble? Low-sodium diets are actually dangerous. This diet, suggested by health practitioners, can actually cause nutrient deficiencies like magnesium, calcium, potassium, and B-vitamins. Without these nutrients, a person can actually predispose him or herself to heart trouble.
What is confusing about this is why, if the low-sodium diet can be incredibly dangerous, is it still promoted so heavily by doctors? The basic answer is that “salt” has been defined as:
This brings me to the dehydration issue: a real problem today. Water is, obviously, one of the most important aspects to maintaining a healthy ecosystem as well as keeping your brain running. The things we consume in the day, even if they are liquid, sometimes can cause us to become more dehydrated.
caffeinated sodas and teas are a couple more ways that we continuously draw necessary water out of our bodies. the consumption of unrefined salt in combination with the heavy and continuous consumption of water will lead to a healthy, balanced internal ecosystem. this is partially because of how the body reacts to dehydration and how it reacts to a salt deficiency. The kidneys, upon recognition of salt deprivation, will work overtime to hold onto the salt present in the body, which will eventually lead to kidney problems. The sole consumption of water won’t reverse this problem, the body needs minerals which are, thankfully and naturally, present in unrefined salt. the bond between these two dietary elements is incredibly important in achieving optimal health.
My best advice, when it comes to adding salt back into the diet, is to do it right away and with reckless abandon. Purchase a good quality brand of unrefined sea salt, such as Celtic Sea Salt, and use it to season any food you eat. Drink water throughout the day, liberally salt your foods, and enjoy the benefits.
* This post contains facts found in the book “Salt Your Way To Health” by David Brownstein, M.D.
Brownstein, Dr. David. Salt Your Way To Health. 2nd ed. 1. West Bloomfield, Michigan: Medical Alternatives Press, 2010. Print.