Using cooking salt in the kitchen is part of an age-old tradition in the culinary process. It’s often one of the first spices off the rack, and a particularly crucial one in balancing flavor for any meal. Did you know that the application of salt has played a valuable role in the development of human civilization throughout history? That’s right! When you wield that salt shaker, you join the ranks of Egyptian Pharaohs, Phoenician sailors, Roman Legionnaires, traders, merchants, and monarchs from every corner of the earth. Whether it’s your bargaining chip (as the word “salary” derives from the word salt), your weapon (famously used by Roman soldiers to spoil Carthaginian farm lands), or just a way to spice up your meal; salt plays an important role in our lives.
So, given that we don’t need to worry about pillaging Roman soldiers in the modern world, we can safely say that the focus of salt has primarily shifted toward health and nutrition. It’s widely known that an excess of salt in one’s diet has been linked to a wide variety of health issues. However, there are some valid reasons to consume it. After all, the human body contains a natural dose of sodium that is used in essential physiological functions (i.e. maintaining fluid in our blood cells, transmitting information within our nerves and muscles, and assisting the processing of certain nutrients in our small intestines). While most doctors will agree that too much salt is bad, the same goes for too little. So, there has to be a middle ground somewhere in which we can eat foods with just enough salt; in a nutritious manner.
The focus of this debate over too little or too much salt in-take really boils down to a couple of basic questions: (1) Is the salt I’m consuming providing ample nutrition? And (2) Am I getting the best “bang for my buck” when I add salt to my shopping cart?
To put it bluntly, the conversation is often nonexistent because there is a lack of information about how most of our salt gets from earth to our table. So, let’s simplify and characterize the real debate:
We’ve seen this debate in a number of other forms; such as organic vs. genetically modified, whole foods vs. processed, etc. Regardless of what you call it, the same principles apply. Refined salt is the result of a highly industrialized process that takes freshly mined salt, and then transforms it into a product that is packaged and capable of surviving harsh travel conditions and extended shelf-life.
Commercial salt is a dead food. All the living qualities are removed during the industrial process in order to ensure a product that will last longer and thus boost profits. In its purest form, table salt is 97% Sodium Chloride (NaCl), a chemically produced product that is bleached, devoid of most nutrients, and extremely difficult and laborious for the body to process. It also contains Aluminum in many cases, which has been linked to Alzheimers disease and other problems in the body. Also, when consumed in excess, it’s responsible for causing increased blood pressure and heart disease among adults.
Furthermore, we can’t have this discussion without pointing out the environmental issues behind salt mining operations. These sites leave a tremendous carbon footprint, directly disrupts the local biodiversity, and can contaminate active waterways and vegetation because of industrial runoff.
So the antithesis of this dead food is its living, wholesome form: unrefined salt. In its natural state, it retains all the nutrients and minerals that are deemed unnecessary by the corporations that sponsor large-scale salt mining operations. It’s often hand-harvested and does not undergo the process of “cleansing” that commercial salt does. Plain and simple, unrefined salt is as living as the environment it came from. It comes in many shapes, sizes, and colors; pink, red, gray, black, coming from mountains, seas, and lakes around the world.
Himalayan Salt in particular has a rich mineral content that includes over 84 minerals and trace elements such as: calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper and iron. This salt is recognized for its beautiful pink color, high mineral content, and its therapeutic properties. Regular consumption of Himalayan Pink Salt provides essential minerals, trace elements, balances electrolytes, supports proper nutrient absorption, eliminates toxins, balances the body’s pH, normalizes blood pressure, and increases circulation and conductivity. It can also assist with relief from arthritis, skin rashes, psoriasis, herpes, and flu and fever symptoms.
Nutrient-rich, unrefined, non-processed salt does wonders for the body. This is just a short list of the by-product of using non-refined salts in your cooking:
- Food absorption: Proper mineral balance in food and water (from salt/trace minerals) helps the body absorb and assimilate food and water better.
- Cell Cleansing– The negatively charged ions in real salt and the trace mineral concentration let it cross into cells and pull toxins from them.
- Blood Pressure– Real salt actually helps regulate blood pressure (not raise it) when taken in the correct amounts.
- Heart Health- The negative ions in real salt help stabilize an irregular heart beat and support electro-chemical reactions in the body.
- pH Balance- The alkalizing effects of real salt help balance the body’s pH.
- Blood Sugar- Proper mineral balance from real salt helps increase insulin sensitivity and has even been shown helpful in patients with diabetes. (Note: It is especially helpful with type II diabetes, and while Type I diabetes cannot be reversed, it helps nutrient assimilation and other health factors in patients with Type I diabetes as well)
- Allergies– Some evidence shows that real salt dissolved in warm water is an effective natural antihistamine.
- Asthma and Sinus Trouble– Some patients experience asthma and sinus relief from taking salt internally and from using a salt inhaler. Salt can also be helpful in clearing up excess mucous and phlegm.
- Improved sleep– Balancing the trace minerals in the body is supportive of hormone processes and can improve sleep quality and duration.
- Reproductive Health– By supporting natural hormone function, real salt is also supportive of natural fertility and can improve reproductive health in both men and women.
- Cellulite– There is some evidence that cellulite is lessened by proper intake of regular salt. (I’ve seen this personally)
- Cell Communication– Its pH and ion concentration help improve chemical communication between cells.
- Muscle Cramps/Tension– The trace minerals and pH in real salt help alleviate muscle cramps. This is one reason that you often see athletes soak in salt water/epsom salt baths.
- Bone Health- Over 1/4 of the body’s salt is in the bones. When sodium and trace mineral stores are not high enough in the body, it can pull salt from the bones to keep the rest of the body functioning. This can be a tremendous factor in osteoporosis.
- Adrenal and Thyroid Health- the pH and trace minerals in salt are extremely important for proper adrenal and thyroid function. If you suffer from problems with either of these glands, increasing salt consumption can greatly help improve symptoms.
- Nerve function– The electrical properties in real salt help support proper nerve function and communication throughout the body.
- Water Content of Body– Just as an IV must be in the proper electrolyte concentration to be absorbed, the trace mineral in real salt help the body naturally regulate the amount of water and trace minerals it needs.
- Sexual Health– The same hormone-supporting properties of salt make it supportive of healthy libido and sexual function
- Digestive Health– When consumed with water, real salt can help optimize the environment in the digestive system and increase stomach acid. This makes it helpful in dealing with digestive disorders, heartburn and other digestive problems.
- Though not scientifically studied, there are cases of doctors helping or eliminating conditions in their patients with the use of real salt and water, including: arthritis, lyme disease, hypertension, neurological disorders, skin issues.
- Eczema and Psoriasis– The same helpful properties in real salt make it helpful both internally and externally for skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
- Oral Health– the trace minerals in salt can be helpful for oral health and for remineralizing teeth. Swishing with a salt water mixture daily can help improve oral health.
So, the next time you’re running low on salt; go for the premium stuff. It’s a great investment that yields a life-time of health benefits!