“There is a real misunderstanding about salt. On one hand, our consumption of salt seems to be killing us. On the other hand, we cannot live without salt. So, in order to answer this loaded question we must first explore the differences between table salt and unrefined salt.”
– Radiant Health Strategies (2010)
THE HISTORY OF SALT (Freeman, 2014) (Salt Works, 2014) (Kurlansky, 2002)
Humans used salt for various purposes long before written history began. The Peng-Tzao-Kan-Mu, the earliest known treatise on pharmacology, was published in China about 4,700 years ago. A large portion of it was devoted to a discussion of the medicinal uses for more than 40 kinds of salt.
As far back as 6,050 BC, ancient Egyptians used salt in religious offerings. It was a valuable trade commodity between the Phoenicians and the lands of their Mediterranean empire. Nomads travelling westward from China were known to carry salt. Egyptian art from 1,450 B.C. recorded the making of salt. Ancient Greek slave traders bartered salt for slaves – giving rise to the expression that someone was not worth his salt.
Salt influenced the establishment of trade routes and cities, provoked and financed wars, secured empires and inspired revolutions. Its rarity made it so valuable it was used as currency.
Revered as a precious mineral, salt was once traded ounce per ounce for gold.
Homer called salt a divine substance. Plato described it as especially near to the gods.
The English word salary derived from sal, the word for salt: Roman soldiers were paid in salt rations.
The word salad also originated from sal: Early Romans salted their leafy greens and vegetables.
Among other English words derived from sal are sauce and sausage.
And salt has been a symbol of fertility over the ages – it’s the root of the word salacious.
Salt taxes and monopolies led to wars and protests in many parts of the world. The Chinese government, like many others over time, made salt taxes a major revenue source. Anger over the salt tax was one of the causes of the French Revolution.
In 2,200 BC, the Chinese emperor Hsia Yu levied one of the first known taxes – on salt. In 13th century Tibet, Marco Polo observed that tiny cakes of salt were pressed with images of the Grand Khan and used as coins. Salt is still used as currency among the nomads of Ethiopia’s Danakil Plains.
In colonial India during the Raj, only the British government was permitted to make and profit from the salt production conducted by Indian workers living on the coast. In March 1930, Gandhi protested the British monopoly and marched to the coast with his followers. Arriving there, he violated the law by boiling a chunk of salty mud. This Salt March to Dandi, or the Salt Satyagraha, encouraged people across India to begin making their own salt in protest, and the march became an important milestone in the struggle for Indian independence from British rule.
Salt also played a prominent role in the European exploration of North America and on subsequent American, Canadian, and Mexican history. The first Native Americans “discovered” by Europeans in the Caribbean were harvesting sea salt.
In the American colonies under British rule, salt production also played a significant role. The first patent to produce salt in the colonies was held by the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which continued to produce it for the next 200 years. The Erie Canal was opened primarily to facilitate salt transportation.
Salt has also had a significant military history. In 1777, the British Army’s Lord Howe rejoiced when he succeeded in capturing General Washington’s salt supply. Thousands of Napoleon’s troops died during his army’s retreat from Moscow because their wounds would not heal as a result of a lack of salt. And during the American in 1812 Civil War, the Union Army captured significant Confederate salt works, creating a serious salt shortage in the southern states.
If your interest in the history of salt has been piqued, see History of Saltfor more information.
I also highly recommend a New York Times bestseller by Mark Kurlansky called Salt: A World History. He’s an intelligent, lively writer and his books are a pleasure to read – page turners really. Another of his books,The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell, also a national bestseller, kept me engrossed during a week’s vacation a few years ago.
Salt: A World History is populated with odd ball characters such as frozen-food pioneer Clarence Birdseye and New York City’s sturgeon king, Barney Greengrass. Its contents have intriguing titles like “A Discourse on Salt, Cadavers and Pungent Sauces”, “The Hapsburg Pickle”, and “Two Ports and the Prosciutto in Between”.
Kurlansky is a winner of the James Beard Award for Excellence in Food Writing for Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH PROCESSED TABLE SALT(Bauman, 2012), (Ener-Chi Wellness Center, 2013), (Kresser, 2012), (Radiant Health Strategies, 2010)
Salt, like water, is an essential part of the human body.
Throughout history, salt was indeed divine – full of trace minerals, unlike the processed table salt generally in use today.
Table salt is mined from the earth with bulldozers and other machinery and then heavily refined. To make this salt resistant to the re-absorption of moisture, increasing its shelf-life and making it more convenient for consumers to use in salt shakers, processors add desiccants (anti-caking agents).
It’s soaked in a solution which may contain sulfuric acid or chlorine and various bleaches. Then it’s heated to a temperature that removes all the minerals and other trace elements that our bodies need to function. Some processed salts are then spray coated with iodine.
Processed table salt is quite different from natural, unrefined salts. It no longer has the ability to combine with our body fluids, so undermines necessary, basic chemical and metabolic processes. Water retention, kidney and blood pressure problems, gall stones, and many other serious health problems can result from refined salt consumption.
Unrefined salts contain trace minerals that support the proper functioning of all our bodily systems, including the immune system, glandular system and nervous system. These trace minerals have been processed out of refined table salt.
Refined salt is cheap. It’s added to almost all manufactured foods and most food eaten in or purchased from restaurant chains and other restaurants.
On average, Americans consume more than 3,400 mg of refined salt per day. Of this amount, about 75% is derived from processed food. The other 25% comes from sources such as water treatment and medications.
Processed salt is a significant ingredient in most processed foods and restaurant meals – many meals contain far more than a day’s worth of sodium.
Salt has increasingly been blamed for a number of health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
Most of what we’re told about salt these days is that its consumption needs to be reduced. It is even referred to as “the single most harmful substance in the food supply”. (Center for Science in the Public Interest, 2014)
When salt is chemically cleaned and processed, the trace minerals and electrolytes that naturally occur in unrefined salt are removed as if they were impurities.
Chemically processed table salt is inorganic, which means that the chemical bonds are so strong they can’t easily be broken down or metabolized by our bodies. When you take in an inorganic mineral, your body will either store it or eliminate it. In this case, when you take in table salt your body sees it as a poison and tries to get rid of it as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, most of us take in way more table salt than our bodies can eliminate. When this happens, the body has to do something with the excess salt.
Consuming a lot of chemically processed table salt makes us feel thirsty. That’s because the body has been put into a tough position. It can’t get rid of the table salt fast enough so it must neutralize it. To do that it takes water from healthy cells to surround this salt. As a result, you retain water and kill off healthy cells.
Our blood must always be slightly alkaline. For optimal health, 25% of our food intake must digest as acidic and 75% of our food intake must digest as alkaline. We are talking about the process that occurs after food leaves the stomach.
A lemon tastes acidic but has an alkalizing effect on the blood. Meat doesn’t taste acidic but has a very acidic effect on the blood. If the food we eat is overly acidic, it cannot leave the body without being neutralized. Unfortunately, the typical American diet is highly acidic. When we eat a meal that is overly acidic, the body must neutralize the acid and regulate the alkalinity of the blood – which it accomplishes by taking organic sodium from its alkaline reserves.
Our bones regulate the level of calcium in the blood. If your body does not have enough alkaline reserves to neutralize excess acid, your bones come to your rescue. The bones contain a healthy supply of organic calcium. Because the body’s concern is with what it need in the present, not what it will need in the future, it takes calcium from your bones to neutralize the acid. If you keep feeding your body processed salt, it will be forced to rob your bones of calcium for years and years – and you will develop porous bones: osteoporosis.
The best source of organic sodium is fruits and vegetables. The average adult needs to eat about 10 pounds or so of fruits and vegetables a week.
Unrefined sea salt requires no effort from the body to digest and neutralize acids. And unrefined salt is so potent, that you only need a very small amount of it. It will not cause edema or make you thirsty when used properly. It’s a good back up to fruits and vegetables.
Symptoms such as digestive issues/constipation, low energy/fatigue, too much or dried mucous (congestion), and, over time, osteoporosis and other issues can result from a lack of good, usable organic sodium.
Processed table salt provides virtually NO benefits for the body and causes numerous health problems.
Refined, adulterated salt (a byproduct of the chemical industry) contains only two elements: sodium (Na) and chlorine (Cl).
Most statistics on salt intake lump refined table salt with unrefined, unprocessed sea salt – leading salt to be seen as harmful.
The ONLY salts the body is able to digest, assimilate, and utilize properly are unrefined, unprocessed sea salt or rock salt. For salt to be useful to the body, it needs to penetrate foods – that is, dissolve in the moisture of our food. If salt is used in its dry state, it enters the body in a non-ionized form and creates thirst – a sign of being poisoned. It then causes further harm because it cannot be assimilated and utilized properly.
Only around 7% of the processed salt that is manufactured goes for food. The other 93% is used by industry, which requires chemically pure sodium chloride for the manufacture of explosives, chlorine gas, baking soda, fertilizers and plastics. (Thomas, 2009)
ANOTHER PROBLEM WITH PROCESSED TABLE SALT: ADDED IODINE
The addition of iodine to table salt is a real problem, turning the salt our bodies need daily into little more than a poison.
We get iodine from eating fish and shellfish, eggs, cereal grains, legumes, dairy products from cows fed with iodized salt, and some food additives. There’s also iodine hidden in cough expectorants; antiseptics; drugs such as sulphonamide, lithium, dopamine, steroids, aspirin, certain heart and anti-diabetic drugs; and natural supplements such as kelp and seaweed.
Iodized salt adds greatly to our iodine intake. As a result, people in the West risk iodine overload. As much as 75% of the body’s iodine is stored in the thyroid glad and used to produce hormones regulating metabolism. Too much iodine causes the levels of these hormones to become dangerously unbalanced, leading to metabolic and immune disorders.(Thomas, 2009)
HOW UNREFINED SEA SALT IS GOOD FOR YOU(Bauman, 2012), (Ener-Chi Wellness Center, 2013), (Kresser, 2012), (Natural Health International, 2014),(Radiant Health Strategies, 2010)
The human body consists primarily of two elements … water and salt.
Water and salt when combined with light can build proteins.
Our blood is a 1% sole (water and salt) solution – the same concentration as ocean water.
Salt has a crystalline structure that is electric not molecular (think about the word “electrolytes”).
Salt can neutralize acids in our bodies and it can also cancel out harmful electromagnetic vibrations in our environment.
It is water and salt that regulates all metabolic functions of the body, including functions of the solid matter itself.
Without water and salt, the solid matter of our body is absolutely useless. It is water and salt that energizes and activates our bodies.
Without potassium (which is stripped from processed table salt) and sodium, we could not think or act.
Cells suffering from a dietary deficiency of trace elements lose their ability to control their ions – causing dire consequences on the human body. Cells begin to burst even if ion equilibrium is lost for a single minute. This can lead to nervous disorders, brain damage, or muscle spasms, as well as a breakdown of the cell-regenerating process.
Ingesting natural sea salt (reconstituted seawater) allows liquids to freely cross body membranes, blood vessels walls, and glomeruli (filter units) of the kidneys. When the natural salt concentration rises in the blood, the salt will readily combine with the fluids in the neighboring tissues. This, in turn, will allow the cells to derive more nourishment from the enriched intracellular fluid.
In addition, healthy kidneys are easily able to remove these natural saline fluids, which is essential for keeping the fluid concentration in the body balanced.
Refined salt, in contrast, may pose a great risk to the body by preventing this free crossing of liquids and minerals thereby causing fluids to accumulate and stagnate in the joints, lymphatic ducts, lymph nodes, and kidneys.
The dehydrating effect of commercial salt can lead to gallstone formation, weight increase, high blood pressure, and other serious health problems.
The body requires salt to digest carbohydrates properly. Natural salt, saliva and gastric secretions combine to break down the fibrous parts of carbohydrate foods. In its dissolved and ionized form, salt facilitates the digestive process and sanitizes the GI tract.
The Celts, who lived throughout Europe about 1,200 BC to 61 AD, used unrefined sea salt to treat major physical and mental disturbances, severe burns, and other ailments.
Research has shown that sea water removes hydro-electrolytic imbalance, a disorder that causes a loss of the immune response, allergies, and numerous other health problems.
In recent years, salt has received a bad reputation and people have learned to fear it – in the same mistaken way they fear cholesterol and sunlight. Many doctors warn their patients to avoid sodium and sodium-rich foods. However, to live a salt-free life means suffering from an increased risk of mineral and trace mineral deficiencies, as well as from numerous related complications.
While it is true that consuming processed table sale is likely to have serious health consequences, eating unrefined salt fulfills the body’s need for salt without upsetting the hydro-electrolytic balance.
If your diet contains an adequate amount of potassium in natural form, there’s no cause for concern about being harmed by the relatively small amount of sodium in real sea salt.
Foods that are high in potassium are bananas, apricots, avocados, pumpkin seeds, beans, potatoes, winter squash, and many other vegetables.
However, if potassium levels in the body drop below normal, sodium (even in natural salt) can become a source of imbalance.
Dissolving a pinch of sea salt in a small amount of water and adding that to fruit or other foods that are usually eaten raw will aid in their digestion while also helping to de-acidify the body.
Adding a pinch of sea salt to drinking water generates desirable alkaline properties and provides you with important minerals and trace elements.
The drastic reduction of sodium can be just as harmful as consuming large amounts of it. Too little can cause spasms, irregular heart rhythms, sudden death and even increase the risk of heart attack in hypertensive patients.
Understanding the role sodium plays in the body, and the difference between “good” and “bad” sources of sodium, will help you get the bad salt out of your diet while still satisfying your body’s need for a source of high quality sodium.
EXAMPLES OF UNREFINED NATURAL SEA SALTS
HIMALAYAN PINK SEA SALT (Underground Health, 2013)
Himalayan pink salt is considered the best and most nutritious of all the sea salts – it’s also my personal favorite. It’s pretty and has a light, clean taste.
Himalayan Pink Salt was formed from marine fossil deposits over 250 million years ago, during the Jurassic Era.
Himalayan sea salt’s high mineral and iron content causes its crystals to range in color from sheer white, varying shades of pink, to deep reds. It contains over 84 minerals and trace elements – such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper and iron. This salt is recognized for its beautiful pink color, high mineral content, and its therapeutic properties.
It is used to stimulate circulation, relax the body, lower blood pressure, soothe sore muscles, and remove toxins from the body. Himalayan Salt can be used for cooking, in bath salt recipes, body scrubs, aromatherapy, and handmade soaps.
Regular consumption of Himalayan Pink Salt provides essential minerals and other trace elements, balances electrolytes, supports proper nutrient absorption, eliminates toxins, balances the body’s pH, normalizes blood pressure, and increases circulation and conductivity. It’s helpful for arthritis, skin rashes, psoriasis, herpes, and flue and fever symptoms.
Natural Pink Himalayan Sea Salt:
- Stabilizes irregular heartbeats
- Regulates your blood pressure, in conjunction with water
- Extracts excess acidity from your body’s cells, particularly the brain cells
- Balances the sugar levels in the blood
- Generates hydroelectric energy in your body’s cells
- Increases conductivity in nerve cells for communication and information processing
- Enhances absorption of nutrients through the intestinal tract
- Clears mucous plugs and sticky phlegm in the lungs, particularly in asthma and cystic fibrosis
- Clears up congestion of the sinuses
- Provides your body with a strong natural antihistamine
- Regulates sleep: It is a natural hypnotic
- Eliminates persistent dry coughs. Put a dash on the tongue
- Prevents gout and gouty arthritis
- Helps maintain sexuality and libido
- Prevents varicose veins and spider veins
- Provides your body with all essential mineral and every necessary trace mineral it needs to thrive
- Helps treat emotional disorders
- Preserves serotonin and melatonin, known antidepressant neurotransmitters
- Helps the kidney to pass excess acidity into the urine
- Is a strong anti-stress element for the body
- Helps maintain muscle tone and strength
- Stops excess saliva production
- Strengthens bone structure. Osteoporosis, in many ways, is a result of salt and water shortage in the body
- Prevents muscle cramps
(Natural Health International, 2014)
CELTIC SEA SALT (Holistic Health Reforms, 2014), (Water Benefits Health, 2013)
Celtic sea salt is naturally extracted through sun drying and is grayish in color. It supplies, in bio-available form, all 82 trace minerals needed by the human body for optimal health.
Celtic salt is harvested off the shores of Brittany in France.
Health benefits provided by Celtic sea salt:
Regulates heartbeat and blood pressure. Refined salt can cause high blood pressure. Natural salt with adequate water intake can help to stabilize irregular heartbeats and normalize blood pressure. In other words, if you have low blood pressure, taking Celtic sea salt can help to raise it. If you have high blood pressure, it can help to lower it.
Eliminates mucus buildup. Celtic salt helps eliminate existing mucus buildup and also helps prevent it – making it very helpful for people with allergies, asthma, sinus issues, or bronchial congestion.
Improves brain function. Sea salt also helps to extract excess acidity and toxins from brain cells. It supports the health of nerve cells and their ability to communicate and process information.
Balances blood sugars. Celtic sea salt helps balance blood sugars so is especially helpful for diabetics.
Alkalizes the body. Excess acidity in the body is an underlying cause of many diseases. Salt is vital to the removal of excess acid wastes from the cells. In addition, mineral-rich salt will help maintain an optimal acid-alkaline balance.
Reduces toxins. And overall helps prevent ill-health.
Increases energy. Salt and water are the key elements for the generation of hydro-electric energy in the cells. Fatigue results when sodium and trace minerals are deficient in the body.
Provides electrolyte balance. Natural Celtic salt stimulates salivation, helps balance and replenish all of the body’s electrolyte minerals, releasing excess sodium and water. For problems with water retention, gradual sea salt intake can help to release the excess water stored in body tissue.
Builds immunity. Regular intake of natural sea salt and its highly absorptive minerals can provide a higher resistance to illness, infections, and disease. It can also help your body to heal faster after an injury or surgery and aids in relieving skin conditions.
Promotes restful sleep. The abundance of trace minerals in natural sea salt will have a calming effect on the entire nervous system. In addition, the proper ratio of water and salt consumption can help to prevent the need to urinate during the night.
Prevents muscle cramps. Muscle cramps are often caused by an electrolyte imbalance, especially a lack of sodium. Celtic sea salt provides these minerals in the correct proportion. Your body will take what it needs and get rid of the rest, as long as you are drinking enough water.
Generally restores good digestion.
Will keep virtually indefinitely if properly stored.
Contains all 82 vital trace minerals. These vital trace minerals are needed to promote optimum biological function and cellular maintenance.
MALDON SALT (Maldon Crystal Salt Company, 2014)
Maldon sea salt is produced by evaporating the salty waters of the Blackwater River that winds through southeast England, in Essex County. The water is filtered and carefully evaporated to create pyramid-shaped crystals that have a large surface area but are very thin and light in texture. It’s pure white color and flaky texture adds a crunch as a finishing salt on food.
Salt has been harvested in Essex for over 2,000 years, when seawater was partially evaporated and then heated in clay pots over open fires. When all the water was gone, the pots were broken open to reveal the resulting salt crystals.
Maldon salt is still made in much the same way. Seawater is filtered and boiled to remove any impurities. Then it’s heated until the salt turns into beautiful crystals.
According to the Domesday Book completed in 1086 on orders of William the Conqueror, there were 45 salt pans operating in the Maldon area and 100’s more across the county. The Guild of Salt Makers was founded in 1394 and its sign, the three cups, is still seen in Essex.
All the other salt makers were taxed out of existence, leaving Maldon as the last survivor of this long history of high quality salt making.
Unrefined Maldon salt crystals are mild tasting, crunchy, and retain high levels of the trace minerals and elements the human body needs to function properly.
HAWAIIAN RED SEA SALT (Saltworks, 2014-A)
Hawaiian Red Sea Salt, also known as Alaea, is the traditional sea salt Hawaiians use for seasoning and preserving food; in healing rituals for medicinal purposes; and in ceremonies to cleanse, purify and bless tools and canoes.
It is an unprocessed sea salt rich in trace minerals found in sea water. A small amount of harvested reddish Hawaiian clay (Alae) enriches the salt with iron oxide.
It’s available as coarse and fine crystals and works well in a salt grinder. Good for roasting or grilling meats, it’s the traditional seasoning for native Hawaiian dishes such as Kalua Pig, Hawaiian Jerky, and Poke.
I grind some as a finishing salt onto salads and other dishes.
FLEUR DE SEL (Bitterman, 2014)
Fleur de Sel (‘Flower of the Sea’) is a sea salt harvested by hand in France by skimming salt ponds. It’s 100% pure, quantities are limited, and the salt is quite expensive.
Fleur de Sel is believed by many chefs to be the best finishing salt on earth – lending a highly desirable level of complexity to food. It’s distinguished by fine, glistening crystals in a pale shade resembling the color of summer clouds.
Its crystals are irregularly sized and unevenly shaped. The smaller crystals dissolve quickly in the mouth, discharging a salty intensity.
A good Fleur de Sel has about a 10.3% residual moisture which allows the crystals to repel outside moisture so they don’t melt as easily as a drier salt, providing a satisfying crunch when eaten on food.
Fleur de Sel is also very high in mineral content, due to the well-controlled evaporation process of the paludiers (salt rakers) who harvest it from the pans where the sea water is evaporated. It contains .25% calcium, .37% magnesium, and .09% potassium – as well as varying trace quantities of iron, zinc, manganese, and dozens of other minerals. all these combine with the sodium chloride to form a well-rounded, mellow finishing salt.
And finally, it is beautiful. Its moist, refractive crystals range in color from from barn owl gray to oyster white.
BLACK LAVA SEA SALT (Infinite Salt Creations, 2014)
Black Lava Salt is from Hawaii and is a blend of unrefined sea salt and purified volcanic charcoal. This salt is evaporated in above-ground pools that formed naturally from lava flows. Activated charcoal, a proven anti-toxin and digestive-tract palliative, is added for color and for its detoxifying effects. Many people take it as a nutritional supplement.
Black Lava Salt has an unforgettable aroma and important health benefits from the charcoal in the lava. Its striking color and interesting smoky taste make it a great finishing salt for any dish. It’s especially good on salads, vegetables, sushi, grilled steak, teriyaki chicken or tofu.
Charcoal is good as a natural aid for stomach and gas ailments. It also helps prevent the stomach and intestines from absorbing most poisons or drugs.
I can tell you from personal experience that its crystals are too wet to work in a salt grinder, but they’re relatively soft so can be pulverized using your fingers.
PREMIER PINK SALT (Premier Research Labs, 2014)
My holistic health care practitioner recommended Premier Research Labs’ Pink Salt to me in 2010 while we were treating my nasty Clostridium difficile infection, suggesting that I mix a small amount into filtered water or just lick it off my hand daily to help rebalance my electrolytes.
This pink salt has a robust flavor that’s much stronger than either the Hawaiian Alaea or Himalayan Pink Sea Salts I use daily.
Premier Pink Salt is a blend of two premium, untreated, unheated, solar-dried sea salts: pure Mediterranean Sea Salt and Alaea Hawaiian Sea Salt.
The Mediterranean salt has sparkling white crystals. The crystals of the Alaea (described in another section above) are a dark pink with orange tones. Both salts contain valuable trace elements that are missing from regular, processed table salt.
Premier Pink Salt does not contain any of the ‘anti-clumping’ chemicals commonly added to regular table salt – no aluminum hydroxide, refined sugar, stearic acid, sodium ferrocyanide, calcium phosphate and other undesirable additives.
This salt combination is rich in electrolytes and provides bio-available minerals for the body to produce other essentials minerals and hydrochloric acid necessary for proper digestion.
Laboratory testing has shown that Premier Pink Salt contains quantum state phytonutrients that deliver the Quantum Nutrient Effect. The Quantum Nutrient Effect (QNE) refers to the phenomenon of truly synergistic nutrients working together to create an effect far greater than the sum of their individual benefits – by a factor of 2 to 100 fold or more. This combination promotes the most rapid shift to ideal cellular resonance for targeted organs and glands in the body, thus helping achieve a quantum leap to greater health. (Kelley, no year)
Benefits of Salt in Your Diet
“. . .all of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And, when we go back to the sea. . . we are going back to whence we came.”
-John F. Kennedy