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Salt has been demonized nearly everywhere!
But it turns out that it’s a vital electrolyte that enables your body function optimally.
In fact, without salt, you’d simply die! But it has to be the right type of salt…and in the right amount.
See, salt is almost always at the top of the “foods to avoid” list! It seems the entire medical fraternity, along with dietitians and nutritionists have conspired against it!
Why is salt considered such as a horrible health hazard?
Regardless of what the so-called “experts” have spewed out there, you need salt on a daily basis! Really?
What is salt in the first place?
Salt is not pure sodium!
It’s a natural product that contains sodium.
Table salt (like Morton salt) contains around 97% sodium. Other types of salt like sea salt and Himalayan pink salt contain less sodium, but do contain a few other minerals, including magnesium, potassium, and small amounts of calcium.
And you’d be surprised to discover that salt has some very intricate connections with your health…
Salt and Blood Pressure
In the 1980s, researchers conducted a large global study on salt intake and blood pressure.
They discovered that groups of people from undeveloped countries who did not use salt had low blood pressure.
One of these groups was the Yanomami of the Amazon rainforest.
The Yanomami have very low sodium in their urine, which indicates very low sodium consumption–and they have very low blood pressure, including the very elderly!
On the other hand, when you look at another group of primitive people–the Kuna of Panama, you see a slightly different story…
The Kuna also consumed a low sodium diet and had low blood pressure. But when certain groups of the Kuna ate more generous amounts of salt, their blood pressure still remained low.
In other words, there seemed to be no direct correlation between salt intake and blood pressure.
Another study, a meta analysis of 6,250 patients, found no direct link between salt intake, high blood pressure, and increased risk of heart disease.
Turns out, you need to take other things into consideration–beyond salt intake.
Two other meta analyses (analysis of multiple studies) found that sodium restriction reduced blood pressure 5.39 mm Hg for systolic (top number) blood pressure, and reduced diastolic (lower number) blood pressure 2.82 mm Hg for those who already had hypertension.
Sodium restriction dropped blood pressure only 2.42 mm Hg and down 1.00 mm Hg in those with normal readings.
Clearly, you can see the drop was negligible!
On the flipside, restricting sodium intake can also increase triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol, besides inducing elevated stress hormone release.
However, increasing potassium intake, which is naturally found in fruits and vegetables, was associated with over a 7-point drop in systolic blood pressure, and a 2-point drop in diastolic blood pressure, but only for hypertensive people.
The takeaway here is…
Increased potassium intake is more effective in lowering blood pressure than a salt-restricted diet.
In-arguably, the human body cannot do without some sodium. Salt is critically vital for nerve transmission, besides helping to contract and relax muscle fiber, including the very life-sustaining heart muscles.
So how do you tell that you’re salt-deficient?
A number of symptoms may point to a salt-deficiency, including:
- Dehydration–your body cannot retain water without salt
- Muscle cramps
- Inability to withstand heat, especially when exercising
- Cognitive decline among the elderly
Salt deficiency predisposes you to heightened risk of heart attack.
See, when sodium levels drop in your body, chemical and hormonal messages signal the kidneys and sweat glands to retain water in order to preserve sodium.
Any excessive water retention is heart unfriendly.
Many studies point to the fact that optimal sodium levels have multiple benefits in your body…
The most obvious being retention of the right amount of water in your body.
And there is more…
It can help you boost exercise performance and tolerate heat.
Studies show that sodium loading before workout in the heat increases the body’s fluid volume, thereby reducing the physiological strain on your body.
Indeed, sodium loading helps you work out harder, longer, and more effectively.
Salt & Electrolytes
Sodium from salt is an important source of vital electrolytes.
Without sufficient electrolytes, you can experience irregular heartbeat, muscle cramps, fatigue, nausea, and even seizures.
Sodium is an electrolyte that’s very vital to maintaining proper fluid balance in your bloodstream, inside and outside your cells.
Sea salt is an excellent source of electrolytes, which have been shown to prevent muscle cramping during exercise.
Sea salt contains sodium, magnesium, potassium, and calcium, all of which contribute to your optimal health. These minerals must come from your diet because your body can’t make them.
Whenever you’re stressed, your body releases plenty of the cortisol hormone into the bloodstream.
Cortisol is the stress hormone, and the higher the levels, the more stressed you’ll feel…
But thank Mother Nature, salt has been shown to help your body clear cortisol from the blood.
The faster your body gets rid of cortisol, the better you feel.
Low sodium diets are often associated with higher stress hormone levels, alongside depression and anxiety.
An experiment published in 1995 showed that, when rats are put in stressful situations, they preferred to drink salty water rather than unsalted water.
In another study, when wild rabbits were stressed, their sodium intake shot up.
And in yet another study involving about 10,000 Americans, researchers found a relationship between salt intake and depression.
Women on low-sodium diets tended to be more depressed than women with a regular salt intake. Interestingly, people may be self-medicating with salt and not even know it!
Chronic stress tends to increase cravings for salty foods, but you don’t have to mow through a bag of potato chips if you’re stressed and craving salt!
Simply grab a handful of healthy nuts or beef jerky to snack on. You can also add a couple more grinds of fresh HImalayan salt to your healthy dinner, or sprinkle some sea salt on those fresh veggies you’re munching on.
Salt & Sex
Salt has been found to accelerate sexual maturation in animal models, resulting in higher reproductivity.
In fact, male rats tend to have increased sperm counts when on a higher sodium diet.
In a 1991 experiment, men whose sodium intake was lowered to 2.4 grams a day complained of erectile dysfunction more often than those who consumed 3 grams a day.
The ED was even worse when the low-sodium diet was combined with a diuretic–a drug used to treat hypertension .
Salt & Growth
Salt is known to aid healthy growth…
Scientists from the New Jersey School of Medicine found out that if rats are put on low-salt diet, their bones and muscles fail to grow as fast as rats on a normal diet.
Even better, observational studies also note that children tend to crave more salt than adults do, which may be explained by the needs of their growing bodies, bones, and muscles.
Low Sodium & Diabetes
People with type 2 diabetes tend to have worsening outcomes when they follow a low-salt diet.
A 2011 study showed people with type 2 diabetes are more likely to die prematurely on a low-salt diet due to higher all-cause and cardiovascular mortality.
Another study from Harvard linked low-salt diets to an immediate onset of insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes.
This may imply that guidelines on salt restriction for people with type 2 diabetes may need to be reviewed.
Low sodium conditions can trigger an increase in the hormone aldosterone.
Aldosterone is an adrenal hormone which helps your body preserve sodium whenever it is perceived to be deficient.
“But that’s fine“, you may say to yourself!
However, there’s a flipside to it…
High aldosterone levels are also associated with insulin resistance, and it’s all the more the reason aldosterone-blocking medications are being explored as potential treatment for vascular disease and hypertension.
Thus far, you have appreciated some of the things that salt can and/or cannot do for you…
Now, the question begs…
What kind of salt should you take?
To begin with…
Avoid using processed table salt, as it is higher in sodium, and often contains fillers and anti-coagulants…
And has a harsh, bitter taste.
Better choices are natural salts, such as:
- Natural sea salt, which contains many more beneficial minerals, including magnesium, calcium, and even iodine. Better yet, sea salt generally has a milder, smoother taste
- Pink Himalayan–this salt is rich in minerals and contains all 84 essential trace elements your body requires
- Celtic sea salt–this is an unrefined, unprocessed type of salt, sourced from clean coastal waters in France. It contains naturally-forming minerals, and it’s simply harvested and dried ready for use.
In-arguably, salt seasons your food, making it taste better–it’s a dribbler for sure!
It’s important to keep in mind that salt deficiency will compromise your performance. not only in the gym, but in the bedroom as well…
Not to mention a possible rocketing effect on your cortisol and insulin hormones.
You can do way better with a low carb, primal Paleo style diet with low carbs, no grains or sugar, which will actually help your body clear out salt quicker…
And in the process become healthier, with optimal blood pressure and overall cardiovascular health markers.
Enjoy a tantalizingly healthy diet…with the right type and amount of salt!
And if you like this article, don’t keep it to yourself…
Instead, share widely to spread the salty goodness!
Thank you for your faithful patronage.