The title of this article may come as a bit of a shock to some, especially with the range of ailments an increased salt intake has been linked to. Salt is vilified by conventional wisdom; but then again, so is saturated fat. We know that the ‘experts’ don’t always get it right, and it seems that this is true once again when it comes to salt.
Sodium, the mineral that makes up approximately 40% of table salt, is an essential nutrient for human health. It regulates your fluid balance, improves muscles function, and allows your nerves to send impulses throughout your body. Sodium maintains the balance of other minerals, such as calcium and potassium, in the bloodstream. It also helps to maintain sugar levels in the bloodstream, thus reducing the need for insulin.
Salt itself is also an important part of the process of digestion. In the mouth, salt activates the enzyme salivary amylase, which provides signals to the brain that digestion is due to take place. In the stomach, it assists in the creation of hydrochloric acid, which helps break down your food.
Studies show that people with a higher sodium intake are at greater risk of developing heart and blood problems and suffering from strokes. However, this correlation is not a fair one. The majority of people in Western society who consume a higher level of salt are generally doing so through a higher intake of processed foods. There have been no studies that directly show the link between the sodium itself and the problems it is said to cause; so could this in fact be the processed food that is the root of the problem? It’s highly likely.
When choosing your salt, look for a salt rich in trace minerals such as Pink Himalayan Crystal Salt or Celtic Sea Salt. As with everything, the key is moderation. Too much salt is likely to put excess pressure on your kidneys; however, anything up to 1tsp of high quality salt each day and you’re definitely in health promoting territory. As processed foods are not on the menu in any Paleo household, you can afford to be a little more liberal with your seasonings.
How much salt do you consume? And which type is in your pantry right now?