There has been a call for diversity in the human diet, meaning eat less processed foods and more healthy natural ones. This in and of itself would reduce the intake of the new Bad Kid on the block – salt!
We have been forced to accept lower fat products; we are being pushed into consuming less sugar – which is not a bad thing, now the latest drive is to limit our salt intake.
But what they are not telling us is that the salt used in the manufacture of food products, in everything from your Kellogg’s Corn Flakes to the processed luncheon meat you buy for the kid’s sandwiches, is ONLY a part of what true salt is.
Food manufacturers use mainly sodium chloride in food production processes, and that Dear Readers is only a fraction of what is found when mining or panning for the ingredient we call salt.
Before I get ahead of myself, I need to mention what the human body requires Salt for. (NaCl – Sodium Chloride)
Salt is important in many ways. It is an essential part of the diet of both humans and animals and is a part of most animal fluids, such as blood, sweat, and tears. It aids digestion by providing chlorine for hydrochloric acid, a small but essential part of human digestive fluid
For humans, salt is as essential as water. We can perish from too little salt as we can of thirst. Salt regulates the exchange of water between our cells and their surrounding fluids. One component of salt, sodium (Na), is involved in muscle contraction including heartbeat, nerve impulses, and the digestion of body-building protein. Humans contain about eight ounces of salt. The amount of salt is regulated in our bodies by our kidneys and by perspiration.
Its chemical formula is NaCl, or sodium (Na) chloride (Cl). The chlorine part (ion) accounts for 55% of the dissolved solids in sea water, while the sodium accounts for 30%. The combined oceans contain about four and one-half million cubic miles of salt—enough to cover the United States to a depth of one mile.
Different types of table salt
Salt can be mined or formed during an evaporative process, where the action of the sun and wind evaporates the salt water (brine) until salt crystals form. This is NATURAL UNREFINED SALT. The only thing taken out of it is the water. Unrefined sea salt contains 98.0 % NaCl (sodium-chloride) and up to 2.0% other minerals (salts) : Epsom salts and other Magnesium salts, Calcium salts, Potassium (Kalium) salts, Manganese salts, Phosphorus salts, Iodine salts, all together over 100 minerals composed of 80 chemical elements… Composition of crystal of ocean salt is so complicated that no laboratory in the world can produce it from its basic 80 chemical elements. Nature is still a better chemist than people.
This salt has been used since the beginning of life, by ocean plants, by animals and by people.
Refined salt (Table Salt) is 99.9% NaCl (sodium-chloride.)
Dr Lawrence Wilson MD has this to say in reference to our salt consumption:
Many health authorities advise against eating salt. My experience is that if one eats a diet of natural foods high in magnesium and only uses sea salt, most people will not have difficulty with salt. In fact, natural sea salt is a very healthful product that most people need more of to supply many important trace minerals.
Natural Salt: Natural sea salt, which is simply evaporated sea water, contains no additives and is not chemically processed. When evaporated by the warmth of the sun, natural sea salt retains all of its naturally occurring, beneficial minerals. As a result, these unrefined salts each have a unique colour, mineral makeup, density, crystalline structure and flavour.
It’s not salt per se that’s so bad for human health, but rather the industrially refined, land-mined, bleached, mineral-deficient table salt sold on the market and hidden in packaged and processed foods.
One to three grams of salt per day is a good measure for human nutritional requirements, but most Americans today consume 12-15 grams of salt daily (mostly hidden in shop bought, processed foods).
In refining commercial table salt, manufacturers remove virtually all the minerals and trace elements, leaving a white crystal that is 98-99 per cent sodium chloride.
Among the nutrients removed is magnesium, which is essential for proper immune function. Magnesium supports a process call phagocytosis, which enhances the assimilative power of scavenger cells that are responsible for controlling infectious bacteria and other unwanted microbes.
Magnesium is also essential for proper function of nerve and brain cells, is involved in the metabolism of sugars and fats, and has been shown to lower mortality dramatically in heart-attack patients.
The big ballyhoo in Western media and medical circles about avoiding salt to cut down on sodium and thus control high blood pressure is all based on the detrimental effects of industrially refined, land-mined table salt, which is 98-99 per cent sodium chloride.
The health problems caused by this kind of salt is another typical example of how the processed-food industry has cornered the market on a vital food element, then refined and denatured it for ‘convenience’ (i.e. higher profits), duping the public into daily consumption of a product that undermines rather than supports health.
What to look for when purchasing Salt
On the labels of many packaged food, in supermarkets as well as health food stores the name “sea salt” appears often. Reading this, we feel safe and reassured, thinking that it is OK when it comes to the salt part of the ingredients. This supermarket or health food store “sea salt” has been totally refined. At its origin, it may have come from the sea, but:
• It has been harvested mechanically from dirt or concrete basins with bulldozers and piped through metal conduits;
• It has been put through many degrading artificial processes;
• Also heated under extreme heat levels in order to crack its molecular structure;
• Definitely robbed of all of its essential minerals that are necessary to our physiology;
These elements are extracted and sold separately to industry. Precious and highly prized by the salt refiners, these bring more profits than the salt itself.
• This has been further adulterated by chemical additives to make it free- flowing, bleached, and iodized.
To call what remains “sea salt” would be quite misleading.
In addition, harmful chemicals have been added to the processed, altered unnatural substance to mask and cover up all of the impurities it has. These added chemicals include free flowing agents, inorganic iodine, plus dextrose and bleaching agents.
Standard salt additives: Potassium-Iodide (added to the salt to avoid Iodine deficiency disease of thyroid gland), Sugar (added to stabilize Iodine and as anti-caking chemical), Aluminum silicate.
• Natural salt is not white and it is not dry.
• Natural salt is little gray with minerals and feels damp or clumps in humidity.
• Natural salt must be labelled unrefined, No additives added.
• Try this experiment: Mix a spoonful of salt in a glass of water and let it stand overnight. If the salt collects on the bottom of the glass, it has been processed. NATURAL SALT DISSOLVES! Salt that will not dissolve in water cannot dissolve in your body.
Nothing in nature works in isolation, Salt as nature provides for us is a combination of perfectly balanced minerals and nutrients, exactly made for our bodies to utilise. The salt that is used in food production and dare I say – manufacture, is chemically deficient and totally unsuitable for human consumption in the quantities we have been scoffing!
When government and food agencies tout the need to reduce salt intake, what they are actually talking about is sodium, as in refined table salt and the chemical mixture they utilize in their manufacturing processes.
Recently the New York Time ran an article extolling the virtues of lower salt intake, and how the food industry is doing all in it power to fight the recommendations (in most cases). Of course the almighty dollar has something to do with the WHY industry is fighting against lowering sodium in processed foods, as is taste.
One thing that has not been brought up (so far) in discussions pertaining to lowering the sodium content of processed/prepared foods (and general lowering of salt intake) is the IODINE issue.
In some areas of the world the soils are deficient in iodine (even here where I live – in Australia) and consequently crops, and therefore people’s diets are deficient in iodine.
Low iodine affects the thyroid gland which requires iodine in order to produce thyroid hormones which play a role in growth and metabolism. The thyroid becomes
enlarged to compensate, resulting in a condition called goitre. In order to reverse this problem iodine has been added to table salt.
In Australia also….. From October 2009, most bread in Australia and New Zealand will contain added iodine (from iodised salt). The Standard requires the replacement of non-iodised salt with iodised salt in bread; however bread represented as ‘organic’ is exempt, consistent with the mandatory folic acid fortification Standard.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Having re-read all the above I feel it is time to draw this missive to a close.
If you are like me, and do not eat processed foods, stay away from tinned and frozen meals, soups and fancy foods, then you will not have any issue with needing to lower your sodium intake.
In our home we purchase either Celtic Sea Salt or Himalayan Salt.
WIKI tells us that Himalayan salt is a marketing term for rock salt from Pakistan, which began being sold by various companies in Europe, North America, and Australia in the early 21st century. It is mined in the Khewra Salt Mines, the second largest salt mine in the world, located in Khewra, Jhelum District, Punjab, Pakistan, about 300 km from the Himalayas, about 160 kilometres from Islamabad, and 260 kilometres from Lahore, and in the foothills of the Salt Range.
The salt sometimes comes out in a reddish or pink color, with some crystals having an off-white to transparent color. It is commonly used for cooking similar to regular table salt, brine, and bath products.
So you can use a good quality natural unrefined salt for seasoning of all your home cooking, and not have to worry about this government and industry hype.
If, on the other hand you are a fast food fanatic, and a lover of quick meals from the supermarket shelves and delicatessen, then you may have a real problem with too much sodium.
Remember: All things in moderation – and preferably not in isolation – particularly NaCl!
Did you know?????
During World War II, Navy doctors would use sea salt water for blood transfusions when blood supplies ran out and many lives were saved.
Diversity in Diet is Key
Sodium Chloride – Answers.com
Disabled World – Salt
Salt in the Oceans and in Humans
Dr. Lawrence Wilson MD
All Natural Info on Salt
Salt that heals and salt that kills
New York Times Article
Food Standards Australia
WIKI salt article
Salt and its uses – not just for flavour
Medical Miracle from the sea