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5 Seasons Nutrition: Salt!  Why is it so important to health, and why do our recipes include sea salt specifically?

Doctors and health professions have been telling Americans for years to reduce their salt intake, so it may seem surprising that salt comes up so frequently in 5 Seasons Diet recipes. The truth is salt contains minerals that are essential for human health. Unfortunately, the standard American diet now contains such a high level of not just salt, but the wrong kind of salt.

In its natural state, salt (sodium chloride) contains minerals including sodium, chloride, and iodine. Sodium is responsible for maintaining blood volume, nerve impulse transmission, muscle contraction, adrenal gland function, and cell wall structure. People that do not have enough sodium may experience adrenal fatigue, headaches, and thirst. Salt also contains chloride and iodine which are important for maintaining fluid balance, proper digestion, thyroid function, and growth and development. Those with chloride or iodine imbalances may experience impaired thyroid function, fatigue, dry skin, and joint pain. So if salt is so important to health, why does it have such a negative reputation?

The answer may surprise you, yet it is incredibly simple. The table salt that is so often found in salt shakers and the salt that processed foods are loaded with are not the nutrient dense natural sea salt that I am describing. Table salt itself has been processed in a way that takes natural sea salt, strips it of its minerals, dries it using harmful additives, heats it which alters its chemical structure, and then bleaches it white. This toxic processed substance is then added to every processed food imaginable, soups, chips, sauces, bread, crackers, meats, etc, to increase shelf life, mask unwanted flavors, and make processed foods delicious and addicting. The truth is, for most people, the salt sprinkled on top of foods or added into a home cooked recipe is not where excessive salt intake comes from, it is already there, in the processed foods most Americans are eating every meal, every day. If you are eating a whole foods diet, rich in vegetables, high quality unprocessed fats and proteins, you are skipping the processed salt found in 70-80% of grocery store packaged items.

5 Seasons Diet: Sea Salt

Pure natural sea salt is completely different from table salt. So much so that it can actually be described as a promotor of health. I recommend using Celtic or pink Himalayan sea salt daily, as part of a healthy diet, and here are a few reasons why:

1.     Sea salt contains sodium, chloride, iodine, and dozens of other minerals that not only support biochemical processes in our body, but are essential to optimal health. Unfortunately obtaining minerals through our food is getting harder and harder due to the decreased quality of our soil. Foods from the sea provide an alternate source of minerals.

2.     Sea salt contains many electrolytes including sodium, magnesium, calcium, and potassium that are extremely important for day to day physical and mental functions. All of the minerals and electrolytes found in sea salt play important roles in everything from fluid balance, muscle contraction, and brain development. 

3.     You’ve probably heard the saying “you are what you eat”. This is true, however, let’s get more specific. You are what your body is able to digest and absorb. If you are eating well but your digestion is out of whack, you will not be able to fully benefit from these healthy food choices! That being said, sea salt is a very helpful digestive aid because it contains chloride. Chloride is the building block of the stomach acid hydrochloric acid, and you need enough of this to properly digest your food.

When someone says that “salt” is bad for you, what they are referring to is processed table salt that should no longer be called salt at all. The quality of your food is so important, and salt certainly does not escape this. I encourage you to buy an unrefined high quality sea salt and incorporate it into your diet daily for optimal health!

 

In gratitude,

 

Tristan Faville, MScN

Holistic Nutritionist