The Health Benefits of Salt: Why I opted to SWAP it, not STOP it Posted on August 7, 2013

sea salt.
Like carbohydrate, fat and protein consumption, salt consumption is surrounded with controversy. The medical community generally believes that over-consumption of salt leads to high blood pressure and increased chances of heart disease. Indeed there are an incredible number of studies to suggest this is the case however, most of this research is done on refined salt, not natural unprocessed sea salts. As you are about to discover, these are two VERY different things. All you need to know about the health benefits of salt and why I opted to swap it, not stop it, is revealed below.

Salt comes in the form of sodium chloride, two elements that combine to provide our body with a number of essential benefits: 

  • Salt is vital for the extraction of excess acidity from the cells 
  • Salt aids in balancing blood sugar levels 
  • Salt in needed for the absorption of food particles in the intestinal tract
  • Salt clears the lungs of mucus and sticky phlegm, particularly those suffering from asthma 
  • Salt is a strong antihistamine 
  • Salt can aid in the prevention of muscle cramps 
  • Salt increases the glial cells in your brain, which are responsible for creative thinking and long-term planning.
  • Salt helps your brain communicate with your muscles, so that you can move on demand via sodium-potassium ion exchange

Now before you beeline for your salt shaker, you need to understand there is a HUGE difference between refined table salt sold at the grocery store and unrefined sea salt (celtic sea salt and himalayan rock salt are two of my favourites). 

Table salt is unhealthy. It is heavily processed, usually iodised, bleached and diluted with anti-caking agents, some of which are aluminium based (linked to heavy metal toxicity and Alzheimer’s disease), dried at extremely high temperatures and as such, the natural chemical structure of what’s left over has changed. Other additives include dextrose (sugar) used in iodised salt (salt with added iodine) to keep the salt from turning purple. Sodium silicon aluminate (also added to some table salts), is thought to be associated with kidney problems and mineral malabsorption.  Sodium acetate, also added to processed table salt may cause elevated blood pressure, kidney disturbances and water retention. 

The alternatives? 

The more you can move toward a diet of whole organic foods in their natural state, the healthier you’ll be—whether it’s veggies, meat, dairy products, or salt. There are two alternatives that I recommend, these are that of Celtic Sea Salt and Himalayan Rock Salt. I alternate between the two and yes, it tastes delicious. 

Celtic Sea Salt

“Many illnesses are caused or exacerbated by trace mineral deficiencies. These can be avoided by liberal use of Celtic Sea-Salt and complete avoidance of all other (processed) salts” Dr Thomas S. Cowan MD.

Celtic Sea salt refers to UNREFINED salt that is sun and air dried in clay ponds located in the pristine coastal areas of Brittany, France (close to the Celtic Sea). The 2,000-year old Celtic method for harvesting this salt is crucial to preserving its natural state and because it is unrefined, it contains all 82 beneficial live elements found in sea water. These include NATURAL iodine for hormonal development, iron for energy, calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium and zinc, WITHOUT any
additives, preservatives or chemicals. It is slightly grey in colour. 

Himalayan Rock Salt 

Pink in colour, Himalayan Rock salt is completely natural and pure, having spent many thousands of years maturing under extreme tectonic pressure. Himalayan rock salt is hand-mined, hand-washed, and minimally processed. Himalayan salt is only 85 percent sodium chloride, the remaining 15 percent contains 84 trace minerals from our prehistoric seas. 

Studies of the benefits of Celtic sea-salt and Himalayan rock salt reveal they can assist in repair of adrenal fatigue, eliminate mucus build up, regulate blood pressure, improve brain function, alkalise the body, promote electrolyte balance, improve bone health as well as the prevention of muscle cramps.

I add a pinch of Celtic sea salt or Himalayan Rock salt to my water before any training session, including hot yoga. I also use it as a seasoning on dishes for that added mineral boost. If you suffer from headaches, muscle cramps or fatigue, these salt are a great way to get your mineral boost. For optimal benefits, remember to stay hydrated.

So… I want you to march right into your kitchen and ditch your table salt right this second! No ifs, no buts or maybes. Himalayan and Rock salt are available from all good health food stores. Trust me, you won’t look back. 

References:

  • Pooley, Richard MD. Characteristics of a Traditional Diet (Lecture).
  • Batmanghelidj, F. MD Your body’s many cries for water. Falls Church, VA. Global Health Solutions, 1992. (Book)
  • F. Batmanghelidj, F. MD “You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty” (Book)
  • Day, P. 2008 “Simple Changes”. Credence Publications (Book)
  • Thompson, R. MD “The Calcium Lie”. http://www.calciumlie.net (Book)
    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/09/20/salt-myth.aspx

Written by Alyse Co-cliff

Alyse Co-cliff

Holistic health coach, author, speaker and passionate whole-foodie committed to helping others nourish their body from the inside out. 
"It's all about simple and effective, no BS nutritional advice and real time solutions for the busy individual. Good health doesn't have to be hard work" Alyse x



16 thoughts on “The Health Benefits of Salt: Why I opted to SWAP it, not STOP it

  1. Victoria

    I come from a state where most of the population have iodine deficiency due to low iodine levels in the soil. There’s are really high levels of thyroid disease and cancer here due to the low levels of iodine in the diet. Our doctors tell all of their patients to have table salt because it will add iodine to the diet. Also, when I was pregnant (in another state) I was told to only use table salt because iodine is important for growing babies. If I’m cutting out table salt, what could I add to my diet to add more iodine?

    1. Alyse Post author

      Hi Victoria,

      Great question!

      If you want to optimize your iodine levels naturally, pay careful attention to your diet. I believe that toxin-free sea vegetables like dulse, seaweed and spirulina are an ideal way to obtain your iodine—however, make sure that these are harvested from uncontaminated waters. Raw milk (if you are outside of Australia) and eggs contain iodine, as well.

      I think the most valuable thing you can do aside from supplementation is strip it right back and look at why your iodine levels are so low. We know that when you ingest or absorb bromine (found in baked goods, plastics, soft drinks, medications, pesticides and more), it displaces iodine, and this leads to an iodine deficiency over the long term. Iodine deficiencies have also been linked to fluoridated drinking water and soil depletion. You best bet is to eat organic, drink from stainless steel water bottles, avoid processed foods – the list goes on. I address these issues in my 12 week consultation programs if you require more information. Hope this helps!

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  6. Chris

    Am a therapist and I am about to prepare salt to put them in bottles and would like to know what can I use to have various colour and make it appealing need some ideas for couloir and what to use thanking you

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