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SALT IN THE DIET

The most powerful way of building health is on a firm foundation, which is made up of the basic elements beneath our feet, the dust of the earth. These basic elements are the 100+ minerals and trace elements that make up the earth's crust and the human body. Once these are correctly put into place in an individual, the battles with disease will be won.

sea salt

Natural pure sea salt contains these minerals in abundance but, sadly, profit has made them unavailable for human consumption by many of the industries that process and refine salt for the human diet. Sea salt contains 92 essential minerals but most refined adulterated sea salts contain only the two elements, sodium and chlorine, that are bound together and become sodium chloride.

So far, there are 24 elements in unrefined sea salt that have already been proven necessary and essential to maintain good health and more are being realised as having beneficial properties all the time.

Supermarket or health food store "sea salt" has been refined. At its origin, it may have come from the sea, but it has been harvested mechanically from dirt or concrete basins with bulldozers and piped through metal conduits. It is then put through many degrading artificial processes, heated under extreme heat levels in order to crack its molecular structure and robbed of all of its minerals that are essential to the human body. These elements are extracted and sold separately to industry. Precious and highly prized by the salt refiners, these bring more far higher profits than the salt itself. It is then further adulterated by chemical additives to make it free-flowing, bleached and iodized.

To call what remains "sea salt" is very misleading. In addition, harmful chemicals have been added to the processed, altered unnatural substance to mask and cover up all of the impurities it has. These added chemicals include free flowing agents, inorganic iodine, plus dextrose and bleaching agents. Standard salt additives: potassium iodide (added to the salt to avoid Iodine deficiency disease of the thyroid gland), sugar (added to stabilize Iodine and as an anti-caking chemical) and aluminium silicate.

For all these reasons the only sea salt to consume must be unrefined and pure. The whiter salt is the top layer which contains far less minerals than the brown coloured sea salts.

In moderate doses, pure unrefined sea salt or Himalayan pink salt crystals, taken with food, is a cleanser and purifier and is rich in the minerals the body requires that are stripped from refined everyday table salt during processing. Himalayan pink salt crystals have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that purify and detoxify the lungs and sinuses. Irrigating the nasal passages with the pink crystals dissolved in warm water can quickly clear infections of the sinuses.

Externally, salt is useful as a gargle (one teaspoon in a glass of water) for sore throats, tonsillitis, mouth infections and inflamed gums. Sea-salt baths are recommended for detoxification, cleansing and relieving the itching of anal haemorrhoids and skin and vaginal infections.

Salt intake should be greatly reduced by anyone suffering high blood pressure or heart disease.

WHAT IS SALT?

 

Sodium Chloride, the chemical name for common salt, contains 39 per cent of sodium, an element which never occurs in free form in nature. It is found in an associated form with many minerals especially in plentiful amounts with chlorine. The body of a healthy person weighing about 65kg contains 256g of sodium chloride. Of this the major part, just over half, is in the extra-cellular fluid. About 96g is in bone and less than 32g in the cells.

 

 sea salts

Sodium is the most abundant chemical in the extra-cellular fluid of the body. It acts with other electrolytes, especially potassium, in the intracellular fluid, to regulate the osmotic pressure and maintain a proper water balance within the body. It is a major factor in maintaining acid-base equilibrium, in transmitting nerve impulses and in relaxing muscles. It is also required for glucose absorption and for the transport of other nutrients across cell membranes.

 

Sodium can help prevent catarrh. It promotes a clear brain, resulting in a better disposition and less mental fatigue. Because of its influence on calcium, sodium can also help dissolve any stones forming within the body. It is also essential for the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach and plays a part in many other glandular secretions.

 

The average adult human being only requires about 4g of salt per day but currently consumption is more like 12g. Children need far less. Salt increases the risk of high blood pressure from a very young age, and high blood pressure can lead to heart disease and stroke.

 

Between 65 and 85% of salt is already in the food consumed which is why adding extra salt to meals is unnecessary and harmful. Most processed foods, including cereals and bread, contain vast amounts of added salt so should be home made and adding even more salt to any meal is simply an overdose. Cheese, most processed foods and ready meals also contain far too much salt.

 

Find out more about the sodium content of foods.

 

Many highly nutritious aromatic herbs and spices can be added for extra taste instead. This will have the added advantage of providing many more necessary phytonutrients and minerals to the diet as well.

 

Algae and seaweed flakes are good alternatives as they has far less sodium content than salt itself and have many other highly nutritional benefits.

 

WHY SALT IS NECESSARY

 

Salt is a vital substance for the survival of all living creatures, particularly humans. Water and salt regulate the water content of the body. Water itself regulates the water content of the interior of the cell by working its way into all of the cells it reaches. It has to get there to cleanse and extract the toxic wastes of cell metabolisms. Salt forces some water to stay outside the cells. It balances the amount of water that stays outside the cells. There are two oceans of water in the body; one ocean is held inside the cells of the body, and the other ocean is held outside the cells. Good health depends on a most delicate balance between the volume of these oceans, and this balance is achieved by unrefined salt.

 

When water is available to get inside the cells freely, it is filtered from the outside salty ocean and injected into the cells that are being overworked despite their water shortage. This is the reason why in severe dehydration we develop an edema and retain water. The design of our bodies is such that the extent of the ocean of water outside the cells is expanded to have the extra water available for filtration and emergency injection into vital cells. The brain commands an increase in salt and water retention by the kidneys. This is how we get an edema when we don't drink enough water.

Initially, the process of water filtration and its delivery into the cells is more efficient at night when the body is horizontal. The collected water, that mostly pools in the legs, does not have to fight the force of gravity to get onto the blood circulation. If reliance of this process of emergency hydration of some cells continues for long, the lungs begin to get waterlogged at night and breathing becomes difficult. The person needs more pillows to sit upright to sleep. This condition is the consequence of dehydration. However, you might overload the system by drinking too much water at the beginning. Increases in water intake must be slow and spread out until urine production begins to increase at the same rate that you drink water.

When we drink enough water to pass clear urine, we also pass out a lot of the salt that was held back. This is how we can get rid of edema fluid in the body; by drinking more water. Not diuretics, but more water! In people who have an extensive edema and show signs of their heart beginning to have irregular or very rapid beats with least effort, the increase in water intake should be gradual and spaced out, but not withheld from the body. Naturally, salt intake should be limited for two or three days because the body is still in an overdrive mode to retain it. Once the oedema has cleared up, salt should not be withheld from the body.
 

 

Many people believe that using iodised table salt can provide them with iodine they need but once the container is exposed to air, iodine content is nearly gone within four weeks after opening (even faster under conditions of high humidity) therefore it is best to consume the foods listed under Iodine to get enough of this vital mineral rather than table salt or switch to using Himalayan crystal salt as half a gram contains 250 g of iodine.

 

NATURAL BALANCE

 

Nature has a natural balance in all things and, as with all foods, salt must be taken in moderation. Because all natural foods naturally contain sodium extra salt is both unhealthy and unnecessary. Especially as it will not be natural unrefined sea salt which would provide many other minerals which help to balance each other and salt levels in the body.

 

An imbalance in any minerals affects the others as they are interlinked and rely upon each other. Minerals are also linked with the body's processes involving the manufacture and absorption of amino acids and fatty acids. The body's natural processes can be affected by a lack of any mineral and because modern farming leeches many minerals from the soil, the developed world's diets are often lacking in these minerals especially magnesium.

 

Many pharmaceutical medications interfere with the body's levels of minerals and nutrients and when people age they are less able to naturally produce and absorb these vital minerals and nutrients. It is then that they are also mostly likely to be taking these medications for ailments often caused by a simple lack of certain nutrients in the first place. This then doubles their chance of having a further imbalance of minerals, salt and phytonutrients in their body and leads to them being prescribed even more medications and the cycle continues until their death through ignorance of the fact that a balance is required of all nutrients. Treating the symptoms of ailments without resolving the cause is as helpful as repeatedly painting over a damp ceiling but not resolving the leak. Eventually the ceiling will cave in but the paint supplier will be rich by then.

 

If salt was consumed in its entire and natural form it could make up for these imbalances in other food processing practises but unfortunately it is not due to a profit led food industry and because this information is not widely known by the consumer.

 

Both deficiency and excess of salt may produce adverse effects to the human body. Deficiencies of sodium are, however, rare and may be caused by excessive sweating, prolonged use of diuretics, or chronic diarrhoea. Deficiency may lead to nausea, muscular weakness, heat exhaustion, mental apathy and respiratory failure.

 

Over-supply of sodium is a more common problem because of overuse of dietary sodium chloride or common salt. Too much sodium may lead to the following health issues:

In case of mild deficiency of sodium chloride, taking a teaspoon of pure sea salt in one half litre of water or any fruit juice quickly restores the health. In severe conditions, however, administration of sodium chloride in the form of normal saline by intravenous drip may be resorted to. The adverse effects of excessive use of sodium chloride can be rectified by avoiding the use of common salt.

 

Too much or too little sodium can cause cells to malfunction. Lethargy, confusion, weakness, swelling, seizures, and coma are some symptoms that can occur with hypernatremia or hyponatremia. The treatment of these conditions is dependent on the underlying cause, but it is important to correct the sodium imbalance relatively slowly. Rapid correction can cause abnormal flow of water into or out of cells. This is especially important to prevent brain cell damage (central pontinemyolysis).

 

Hypernatremia

 

This is associated with dehydration, and instead of having too much sodium, there is too little water. This water loss can occur from illnesses with vomiting or diarrhoea, excessive sweating from exercise or fever, or from drinking fluid that has too high concentrations of salt. Drink plenty of bottled or filtered water and pineapple juice. Avoid processed foods and salt

 

Hyponatremia 

 

This is caused by water intoxication (drinking so much water that it dilutes the sodium in the blood and overwhelms the kidney's compensation mechanism) or by a syndrome of inappropriate anti-diuretic hormone secretion which can be associated with certain medications and health issues such as the following:

Too much or too little sodium can cause cells to malfunction. Lethargy, confusion, weakness, swelling, seizures, and coma are some symptoms that can occur with both hypernatremia or hyponatremia. The treatment of these conditions is dependent on the underlying cause, but it is important to correct the sodium imbalance relatively slowly. Rapid correction can cause abnormal flow of water into or out of cells. This is especially important to prevent brain cell damage (central pontinemyolysis).

Cramps in the limbs can sometimes be due to lack of salt due to sweating from intense exercise. A quarter of a teaspoon of pure sea salt in water or a fruit juice can bring instant relief.

Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis causes the sweat to become very salty. As a result, the body loses large amounts of salt during perspiration. This can upset the balance of minerals and cause a number of health problems. Examples include dehydration, increased heart rate, tiredness, weakness, decreased blood pressure, heat stroke and, rarely, death.

Around 3-10% of cystic fibrosis sufferers become infected by the mycobacterium abscessus bacteria, (which is distantly related to the bacteria that causes tuberculosis) It is not known why it is more likely to infect people with cystic fibrosis but it could be related to problems with the immune system.

It was thought that this bacteria could only be caught from water and soil but has now been discovered to be able to infect person to person. It is believed that it becomes aerosolised when people cough and because this bacteria is tough it hangs around in the air. It causes lung damage and can be incredibly hard to treat with infected patients needing months of treatment with toxic drugs.

See the Respiratory disorders page for natural remedies for cystic fibrosis.

"Nature cures not the physician..." Hippocrates 460 BC

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