ow do we know when to heed and when to ignore medical orthodoxy? After all, doctors are the ones who’ve had 4-5 years of pre-med schooling, 4 years of medical school and then 3-7 years of residency…surely their word is good as gold, right?
Again, the waters get murky when it comes to certain areas of nutrition and doctor endorsed “healthy habits”. Even more confusing are the obvious discrepancies between doctors themselves, often leading us to be fearful of foods like fat, cholesterol and salt…but should we fear them?
Over the past 40 years there have been drastic changes in what a healthy diet looks like. If, like me, you’ve found yourself scratching your head, wondering what’s truth and what’s opinion or fad, you may have concluded that it’s up to you to find these answers, no longer relying on doctors, the FDA, food labels or TV commercials to tell you what’s healthy and what’s not.
The food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine, or the slowest form of poison.” – Ann Wigmore
I’ve written about salt before, but recently a close family member had some medical issues that resulted in doctors prescribing a low-salt diet. I immediately went to my “sources” and began researching the dangers and the benefits of salt. Much to my surprise (ok, I wasn’t actually surprised), the results were a little biased. The term “salt” doesn’t cover all salts available today.
Most of these discussions ignored the processing of salt. Just like sugar, flour and vegetable oils, the salt listed on most food labels has been highly processed and refined, stripped of its naturally occurring minerals and valuable magnesium. After this processing, manufacturers add harmful additives, such as aluminum compounds, to keep the salt dry. Because the natural iodine is removed, potassium iodide is added back in (often in amounts that can be toxic) and to stabilize the iodide (a volatile compound), the processors add dextrose. Because dextrose turns the salt a purplish color, they’ll then use a bleaching agent so we can have our pretty white table salt and be happy about the flavor it imparts to our foods.
I’ll agree that we all should be aware of our salt intake. It’s alarming how much sodium is in many processed, pre-packaged foods. One more reason why we try to avoid as many pre-packaged foods as possible. The worst culprits can be sauces and seasonings. Thankfully many condiments can be made at home, with minimal effort. We try to make our own sauces, dressings and seasonings as often as possible, and when we can’t, we’re very aware of the ingredients in the ones we buy from the store. Sometimes this requires label comparing between brands!
The benefits of salt (and the 84 trace minerals found within) far outweigh the “dangers” of salt. This is especially true when you’re comparing natural salts like Himalayan, Celtic Sea and Black Lava Salts with the stripped down table salt used in many homes and most commonly used in pre-packaged foods.
What are the Benefits of Salt?
The ions in salt are negatively charged, and when combined with water they support the bodies hormonal, chemical and electrical processes. Bodily tasks such as food absorption, cell cleansing, blood pressure regulation, heart health, pH balance, blood sugar regulation, allergies, sleep quality, reproductive health, bone health, adrenal and thyroid health, nerve function, water content in the body, and digestion are all supported by the trace mineral concentration in salt.
To say salt reduction is the key to improving health (especially for cardiac patients) is misguided. The importance is really in identifying the kind of salt being consumed, and making sure to eliminate the salt that is stripped down through processing and devoid of minerals.
Healthy change #22 in our 52 Healthy Changes series is to identify the salt in your home. Check your condiments, sauces, canned goods, boxed foods; look at the sodium content. If you find them to be quite high, chances are it’s filled with highly processed, minerally deficient salt. If you’re still using processed table salt, replace it with mineral rich Real Salt, or this Himalayan Salt. But don’t toss your old salt, it can be used for a variety of cleaning purposes! Just don’t eat it anymore!