I was surprised and very pleased the other day. For the first time a relative of mine saw one of my posts and sent me a message seeking more information because she was concerned about a particular topic. Sodium! My first reaction was “What the heck is happening?” Then after just a minute I thought “This is awesome!” For one, someone actually reads my posts and secondly, a family member reached out to ask for more information. I couldn’t feel more proud.
So, to say the least, I am humbled and truly appreciate you would seek out my professional opinion. After all, this is why I am in this business. Thank you Aunt Missy!
Sodium is so important, in fact, that humans have a specific sensor on the tongue that can detect salt. Thousands of years ago, when the diet of humans was potassium-rich and sodium-poor, this sensor for salt was a crucial survival tool. Nature, in her infinite wisdom, devised a way to help humans (as well as animals) seek out salty foods so they could be assured of receiving adequate sodium from their diets.
This point is extremely important since sodium is crucial for maintaining the health of every cell in the human body. It lives in the spaces between the cells and potassium exists mainly inside of the cell. These two minerals need to be in constant balance so nutrients and waste can get in and out of the cells.
Sodium plays so many important roles in our body from producing hydrochloric acid in our stomach in order to digest protein, proper never function and muscle contraction. The heart, as you may know, is our hardest-working muscle. Finally, sodium is required to maintain electrolyte balance.
Sodium plays so many critical roles, it is clear if we had no sodium, we would cease to exist. It is important to have absorbable sodium from foods to maintain health, but too consuming too much of the wrong kinds of sodium is harmful. Sodium is often misunderstood by the public.
Most of us already know that excessive “bad” salt consumption contributes to high blood pressure, but did you know it is also associated with strokes, calcium deficiency, weight gain, and stomach cancer. However, reducing sodium too much can be just as harmful. Too little can cause spasms, poor heart rhythms, increased risk of heart attack, and sudden death.
Understanding the role sodium plays in the body and the difference between the “good” and “bad” sources of sodium will help you get the salt out of your diet while you still meet your sodium needs.
According to The Sodium Counter, the average American’s salt intake is 2-3 tsps. per day. This provides 4,000 to 6,000 milligrams of sodium a day. This may not seem like a lot but it is double the FDA’s maximum recommended daily quantity of 2,400 milligrams.
No other mammal eats this much salt and no other mammal has the health problems we do. High blood pressure, for example, was never seen in animals until introducing large amounts of salt into animal’s diets.
We unknowingly absorb excessive salt not only from the food we consume, but also from an unexpected source, the salt-softened water we bathe in. Even the American Heart Association warns that salt-softened water can cause elevated sodium levels. Sodium is very efficiently absorbed through the skin every time we take a shower or a bath or wash clothe in softened water. This has become a common culprit of excess sodium.
There are two parts to this sodium problem First, from the food and water we consume and secondly, the highly refined nature of common table salt. Our bodies can usually tolerate some excess sodium if it is a naturally occurring form that we can use or excrete. Commercial table salt is the furthest thing from the ideal. Refined table salt, natural sea salt or rock salt is stripped of more than 60 trace minerals and essential micro-nutrients.
Not only is the commercial salt stripped of all it’s minerals, besides sodium and chloride, it is heated to such high temperatures it changes it’s chemical structure! Then, it is chemically cleaned and bleached and treated to keep it from mixing with water in the container. Unfortunately, the chemicals perform the same function in the human body!!! So, refined salt does not dissolve and combine with water, instead it builds up in the body and leaves deposits in organs and tissues, causing severe health problems.
The most common anti-caking agents used are both sources of aluminum, a toxic metal that has strong ties to Alzheimer’s disease. Ok….to make things worse, the aluminum leaves a bitter taste in salt, so manufacturers add SUGAR (dextrose) to hide the taste of the aluminum. Are you kidding me?
So, considering the salt we use is so mineral unbalanced, the anti-caking agents prevent the salt from doing some of its most important jobs, or the chemicals and sugar that are added to it, table salt should be avoided at all costs because, it is without a doubt hazardous to your health.
Contrary to popular belief, getting the salt out of your diet isn’t as simple as not using table salt. In fact, throwing away your salt shaker will barely make a dent in your sodium intake because the salt you add at the table is minimal compared to the salt hidden in the processed foods we eat every day.
Salt is added so routinely and wrecklessly by food manufacturers that it is almost impossible to escape. From salted snack foods like chips, pretzels and roasted party nuts to basics like soups and breads, salt is in there. It’s even hidden in cereals and instant pudding.
Become a label reader. Read the number of sodium milligrams listed on the label. Focus on low-sodium foods that have 140 milligrams of less of sodium per serving. If you need additional sodium in your diet, add extra salt at the table.
There are alternatives to commercial table salt. Unrefined sea salt and RealSalt are both very good salts the body can use for all the important functions sodium plays. You can get a small salt shaker from RealSalt to take when you dine out or travel.
Learning where salt is normally found and how to do without it requires a multi-dimensional approach.
I highly recommend a book by Ann Louise Gittleman “Get The Salt Out: 501 Simple Ways to Cut the Salt Out of Any Diet”
With vibrant health,
Dr. Don Sharnowski