The Many Benefits of Sea Salt
New research conducted in Europe is now casting doubt on the prevalent belief that a high sodium intake can lead to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. The research, conducted in Belgium and Poland, followed 3,861 study participants over six and a half years and measured urinary excretion of sodium as a proxy for sodium intake. What they found was surprising, even to the researchers, however it is consistent with the findings of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES). Study participants with the lowest levels of sodium in their urine had higher death rates. Those with higher levels of sodium were no more likely than those with lower levels to have high blood pressure and they had lower death rates than their low sodium counterparts. So, what gives? Are there actual benefits to consuming sodium? The answer may be yes, as long as the sodium is unrefined and not associated with a diet high in processed foods. In fact, every cell of the body depends on salt for it's optimal function.
Salt Is Essential for Life
Since ancient times, people have used sea salt for medicinal purposes. And it's no wonder since salt is essential for life itself. Without some salt, the result would be death. The body uses complex hormonal signals to keep the level of salt in the body steady. When deprived of salt, the body will excrete water to try to keep the percentage of sodium constant. Over time, this results in severe dehydration and eventually death. We all know the benefits of water and hydration to health but what many do not realize is the the body needs salt to stay properly hydrated. With the right combination of salt and water in the body, many systems work optimally, including hydration, digestion, immune system, and adrenal function. The issue with sodium intake today is that many people consume too much refined salt, which is devoid of minerals. Unrefined sea salt is the key to using salt wisely.
- Benefits to hydration: As already mentioned, salt is necessary for optimal hydration of the body. Without enough, the body excretes water and becomes severely dehydrated, affecting many bodily functions.
- Benefits to digestion: Ingesting salt stimulates the digestion by increasing saliva and helping to produce hydrochloric acid in the stomach via the chloride component. It also helps to stimulate bile release in the liver and pancreatic enzymes.
- Benefits to immune system function: By maintaining the electrolyte balance in the body, sea salt is said to increase the immune system function leading to fewer allergies and inflammation.
- Benefits to adrenal function: When a person is suffering from adrenal fatigue, not enough aldosterone is produced in the body. Aldosterone is a hormone that regulates sodium and potassium in the body. Eating sea salt can give the adrenals a break and allow them to heal. It also gives the sufferer more energy.
Crystal Salt vs. Refined Salt
The difference between refined salt and unrefined sea or crystal salt is vast. While refined table salt contains only sodium and chloride, unrefined sea salt contains over 84 different elements, including many necessary minerals. When we eat refined salt or processed foods made with refined salt, we're not giving our bodies all of the elements needed for good health. In fact, it's actually the minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and calcium found in unrefined sea salt that protect against cardiovascular disease. A deficiency of these minerals can lead to health issues. Using unrefined sea salt daily can reverse mineral deficiencies and lead to better health. According to Linus Pauling, a Nobel prize winner, every disease state can be traced to deficiencies in trace minerals like those found in unrefined sea salt. Today, we can't rely on foods to provide the trace minerals we need because of our depleted soils and processed food culture. In order to have better health, we need to get these minerals from sea salt.
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How to Use Salt in Your Diet
The best way to ensure the benefits of sea salt in your diet is to cut out high sodium processed foods and most refined table salt. Replace the salt you're giving up with unrefined sea salt. This should be gray or tan in color, not pure white. Only refined salt has that pure white appearance. Start by mixing about 1/2 teaspoon of unrefined sea salt in water and using it liberally on food. While following a diet consisting of unprocessed foods and unrefined sea salt, it's important to ensure that you're getting enough iodine in your diet as well. You can do this by eating ocean fish or taking kelp or an iodine supplement. Additional warnings go to those with renal failure or who are salt sensitive. If these apply to you, see your doctor before starting this protocol. The benefits of eating this way and adding unrefined sea salt will be evident in the way you feel - you'll likely have more energy and less illness.