This is another one of those subjects of "Is it good for you or not?" Salt is highly misunderstood and conventional thinking says to stay away from it and that it causes high blood pressure. While this is true to a certain degree, there is a big difference between regular table salt (Morton's) and Himalayan sea salt.
First, let's talk about why our bodies require salt. Salt has sodium, which is essential to us, we couldn't survive without sodium. It also assists with nerve stimulation and muscle function.
Salt also has chloride, which produces acids that help us better digest protein and enzymes for carbohydrate ingestion. It also has a healthy dose of magnesium, which helps with such things as bone formation, nerve transmission, enzyme production and heart health. (1)
But just like most things that Mother Nature has to offer us, the version of table salt that is used by 90 % of consumers vastly differs from natural sea salt and the primary reason is because it is processed. During this processing, magnesium and other minerals are removed as well as the natural iodine. It is replaced with potassium iodide and bleaching agents are also used for color effects. There are also additives put in just to make pouring the salt easier.
Physiologically, excessive salt intake can be harmful. Salty urine, water retention and higher blood pressure can all occur with too much salt intake. Unattractive cellulite, Rheumatism, arthritis, gout kidney and gall bladder stones are other side effects of too much salt, especially table salt.
How much is excessive?
The daily requirement is about 0.5 grams per day. Most people globally, take in closer to 10 grams per day. About 75% of that amount comes from processed foods. If your diet consists of processed foods and you are adding table salt to your foods as well, you better keep that blood pressure cuff handy.
The average Japanese person takes in about 15 grams of salt per day and although they are considered one of the healthiest nations, they have one of the highest incidences of hypertension and they also lead the world in strokes.
Hopefully it is pretty clear that table salt is not recommended but how about natural sea salts? Is this just more clever marketing or are these truly healthy alternatives?
Let's look at some of the physiological benefits of natural sea salt:
- Strong antihistamine: It can be used to release asthma. Put it on the tongue after drinking a glass or two of water. It is as effective as an inhaler, without the toxicity. It can also stop persistent dry cough and clear the lungs of mucus plugs and sticky phlegm
- Salt effectively removes any acidity in the cells, mainly brain cells
- Clears any acidity from the kidneys and into the urine. Without salt, we remain acidic.
- Prevention of cancerous cells
- Reduces stress: salt effects the preservation of serotonin and melatonin in the brain.
- Good stabilizer for irregular heartbeats
- Sleep regulation
- Good for diabetics: great balancer of blood sugar levels
- Bone strength
Remember, and this is very important, salt in excess can be damaging and is definitely not recommended in large quantities if you are hypertensive.
It is also crucial to stay regularly hydrated with water if you are consuming salt. A safe rule of thumb is a quarter teaspoon of salt per quart of water.
Himalayan sea salt is readily accessible in natural food stores.
Finally, one last piece of advice on salt substitutes. They usually contain high amounts of potassium chloride, which can also be detrimental to your health. It is a whole lot safer using natural sea salts than an imitation salt.