- Grove City, Pennsylvania

October 26, 2011

Only some salt facts have grain of truth

By Rhonda Brooks/Health & Wellness
Allied News

GROVE CITY — People today are concerned about health and wellness.

This current baby boomer generation is willing to spend more money and effort than any previous generation on youthful strategies. With so much information available it is hard to know what to believe.

To make matters worse, the medical community often contradicts or does not comment on much of what those in the natural health field recommend.

Today I will touch on one of those subjects. It is about a very popular food substance that receives a good amount of attention. Americans have been so accustomed to modern methods that sometimes we forget to look at things with a fresh view on what our forefathers did for health and what our commercial food industry is doing today.

This substance, as our forefathers ate it, is one of great value to the body in many ways when taken in its unrefined state.

It was also monetarily valuable and was even used as money in ancient commerce. In its current form it is cheap and is in 99 percent of all homes. Have you figured out what it is? 

It is common salt. With a few exceptions, all traditional cultures have used salt in one way or another.

Now it is touted as harmful and low-sodium diets are recommended for our blood pressure and heart health. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Early research showed some correlation between salt intake and blood pressure, but that has since been shown to be faulty, as a blanket statement, and sometimes low salt intake can even increase blood pressure!

Yet this is what is preached to us. Studies as early as the 1930s found that a salt deficiency can lead to a loss of taste sensation, cramps, weakness, and severe shortness of breath upon exertion.

Recently, Dr. Staessen, M.D., Ph.D., a blood pressure and heart specialist at the University of Leuven in Belgium, published The Best Evidence Study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

It showed a very slight increase in the systolic blood pressure (the top number which measures the heart at "work" and not as significant as the lower number, which is the heart at "rest") with higher salt intake over time, but it didn't translate into a higher risk of high blood pressure, or heart and blood vessel disorders! 

Further, this study also showed that low salt intake was actually associated with a higher heart and blood vessel disease mortality rate.

The authors of the study concluded, "Taken together, our current findings refute the estimates of computer models of lives saved and health care costs reduced with lower salt intakes. They do also not support the current recommendations of a generalized and indiscriminate reduction of salt intake at the population level for everyone."

So, is salt good or bad?

It is both.

Or more specifically, on which kind is consumed. Table salt, as it is known, is highly refined and processed which removes precious important trace minerals leaving behind sodium chloride.

Aluminum compounds, other chemicals, and dextrose are then added to combat the result of such processing before finally bleaching it white.

Does this sound like something you would want to eat daily? I don't think so, but most do not even question it.

Processed foods contain much of this salt as well. Sea salt is closer to what traditional cultures ate and is truly beneficial.

As with most things, industrialization has adulterated this too. So many so-called "sea salt" brands are also highly processed and then bleached white because people expect salt to be white.

The most health promoting salt is extracted by drying it in the sum on seawater in clay lined vats.

The most notable is Celtic Sea Salt that is only about 82 percent sodium chloride; it contains about 14 percent macro-minerals, particularly magnesium, and nearly 80 minerals, including iodine.

This is typically grey in color because of the minerals. If your sea salt is white, it is not much better than table salt. There is also good sea salt that is pink in color as well.

Here are a few facts about using a good salt:

--  Salt has little to do with high blood pressure and heart disease.

--  Low salt intake can lead to insulin insensitivity that can result in type II diabetes, which can truly lead to blood vessel inflammation, arteriosclerosis, and heart disease.

--  Low salt intake can lead to insufficient digestive enzymes which lead to poor absorption of vitamins and minerals. This too can lead to heart disease!

--  Low salt intake can be extremely detrimental to children leading to developmental problems with nerves, muscles, and bones.

--  Overall, limit processed foods for their processed salt content among other non-pronounceable ingredients, and start using Celtic Sea Salt.

This is the only salt I even have in my home. We liberally use it on everything and love its taste.

Traditional cultures didn't have the convenience of our grocery stores, but their food was so much more nutritious in many ways. It isn't feasible to go back into their world, but here are little things we can do to get the most out of our foods and Celtic Sea Salt is one of them.

Rhonda Brooks is a licensed practical nurse and massage therapist. She owns a health food and supplement store in downtown Grove City. Published Oct. 22, 2011 in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201A Erie St., Grove City.