Chances are, if you follow mainstream medical advice or watch the news, you’ve seen some negative press about salt.
In fact, the low-sodium industry is booming!
Thank goodness that this sodium reduction, along with a low-fat diet and eating more whole grains has so greatly increased the health of Americans over the last few decades…
What’s that? It hasn’t?
Is Salt Healthy?
Well maybe you can see the importance of eating good fats, or why grains are unhealthy, but you agree that too much salt isn’t healthy at all.
And you’d be right… if we are talking about the chemically produced table salt that is added to most processed foods, meats and snacks.
Table Salt = BAD!
Table salt, which is 97% Sodium Chloride (NaCl) is chemically produced, bleached, and devoid of most other nutrients. It also contains aluminum in many cases, which has been linked to Alzheimers disease and other problems in the body.
This type is not naturally occurring and in fact, when salt-water fish are placed in salt water made with table salt… they die.
It is also devoid of the many trace minerals that the body needs … so it is a wise decision to avoid it.
The problem is, that when companies reduce table salt in their foods to make it low-sodium, they don’t replace it with trace minerals and healthier options, they often replace it with MSG and other chemical additives to achieve the flavor.
Different Types of Salt
Unfortunately, many of the studies done on sodium consumption use table salt in the research, so there is now a body of evidence showing that salt consumption is harmful, when in reality, no distinction has been made between chemically created table salt and natural forms containing trace minerals.
If you have any table salt around your house, I’d recommend that you stop using it immediately. Don’t throw it out though… you can use it in natural cleaning and stain treatment. (Just don’t eat it!)
Real Salt = Good!
To the degree that table salt is bad, real salt is healthy, necessary, and good.
While the research linking regular table salt to disease and health disorders is correct, we’ve thrown out the baby with the (salt) water.
- The body contains high concentrations of many minerals and nutrients, and while it needs water, it also must have the proper concentration of these nutrients in bones, blood, and organs to function properly.
- A person can’t be given an IV of plain water — it must contain a careful balance of minerals, including sodium!
- Salt, in its natural form is not only necessary for the body to function, but it is extremely important in the right concentration for optimal health.
While many accept the common belief that high sodium intake leads to hypertension:
In a study of 60,000 nurses followed by Harvard researchers, those whose diet was very low in calcium or magnesium had a 23 percent greater chance of developing high blood pressure over four-years. (source)
Other studies have shown that it is actually proper calcium, magnesium, and other mineral balance, not sodium reduction, that improves blood pressure, hypertension, and other problems.
The notion that salt intake and blood pressure were intimately related emerged early in this century when doctors discovered that they could lower the high blood pressure of people with kidney failure by feeding them a rice-based diet extraordinarily low in salt.
Unconvinced, this eventually led to more comprehensive research on worldwide salt intake, which found that:
And in 1989, researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine decided to re-evaluate the link between salt and blood pressure through a study of more than 10,000 people in 52 cultures around the world. Participants ranged from Yanomamo Indians in Brazil, whose diet is almost salt free, to residents of northern China, who eat as much salt in a day as a Yanomamo eats in three years.
Instead of merely estimating salt consumption, the researchers calculated precise values based on urine samples. They took into consideration obesity and alcohol consumption.
Among their findings were that except in a few places with extremely low salt consumption, the amount of sodium in the diet was unrelated to the prevalence of hypertension in a society or to its average blood pressure. Moreover, although the high rates of hypertension in the United States had long been considered a function of this country’s love for salty processed food, the study placed Americans right in the middle of the world’s salt intake curve.
A decade ago, when researchers at the University of Indiana put patients on a low-salt diet, they found that blood pressure went down in about a third of patients, but that in an equal number it actually rose. Dr. Pavel Hamet of the University of Montreal recently studied 200 Canadians with widely varying salt intakes and found that the saltiness of the diet bore no relation to whether a person was hypertensive, as long as the subject had adequate calcium in the diet and was not a heavy drinker.
Many of the studies done on the supposed link between sodium intake and hypertension are used to justify a low-sodium diet, especially in cardiac patients. Unfortunately, these studies fail to take into account the difference between real salt and chemical versions, and the importance of proper salt consumption in the reduction of risk of other health problems like osteoporosis, cancer, arthritis, skin conditions, hormone balance, and nerve function.
If you’ve been limiting salt for health reasons, you must differentiate between chemical table salt and healthy nutrient-dense salt.
Do you Experience
- High Blood Pressure
- Kidney Stones
- Gall Bladder Problems
- Sore or Swollen Joints
- Brain Fog
- Poor Sleep
- Asthma or Respiratory Illness
- Irregular heart beat
- Poor adrenal health
- Diabetes or blood sugar issues
- Poor muscle tone or lack of coordination
- Water retention, edema or swelling (actually result from too little salt… not too much!)
These are all conditions that can result from too little sodium and trace minerals and the resulting mineral imbalance.
It is important to note that regular table salt can actually make these conditions worse because it will create more mineral imbalance by delivering too much sodium and chloride and not enough of the other necessary minerals.
Through our efforts to remove processed table salt with the low-sodium craze (a good thing to remove) we have created a deficiency of necessary minerals.
Benefits of Natural Salt
The negatively charged ions in real salt, especially when combined with water, support a host of hormonal, chemical, and electrical processes in the body.
Its trace mineral concentration makes it especially supportive of nerve and heart health. (Scary, since cardiac patients are often told to reduce sodium). Some doctors have even had success in improving irregular heart beat and lessening neurological disorders with proper doses of real salt.
Some other health-related processes that salt can support are:
- Food absorption: Proper mineral balance in food and water helps the body absorb and assimilate food and water better.
- Cell Cleansing: The negatively charged ions in real salt and the trace mineral concentration let it cross into cells and pull toxins from them.
- Blood Pressure: Some evidence shows that it may actually help regulate blood pressure (not raise it) when taken in the correct amounts.
- Heart Health: The negative ions in real salt help stabilize an irregular heart beat and support electro-chemical reactions in the body.
- pH Balance: It is alkalizing and may help balance the body’s pH.
- Blood Sugar: Proper mineral balance from real salt helps increase insulin sensitivity and has even been shown helpful in patients with diabetes. (Note: It is especially helpful with type II diabetes, and while Type I diabetes cannot be reversed, it helps nutrient assimilation and other health factors in patients with Type I diabetes as well.)
- Allergies: Some evidence shows that real salt dissolved in warm water is an effective natural antihistamine.
- Asthma and Sinus Trouble: Some patients experience asthma and sinus relief from taking salt internally and from using a salt inhaler. Salt can also be helpful in clearing up excess mucous and phlegm.
- Improved sleep: Balancing the trace minerals in the body is supportive of hormone processes and can improve sleep quality and duration.
- Reproductive Health: By supporting natural hormone function, real salt is also supportive of natural fertility and can improve reproductive health in both men and women.
- Cellulite: There is some evidence that cellulite is lessened by proper intake of regular salt. (I’ve seen this personally.)
- Cell Communication: Its pH and ion concentration help improve chemical communication between cells.
- Muscle Cramps/Tension: The trace minerals and pH in real salt help alleviate muscle cramps (magnesium is also important here). This is one reason that you often see athletes soak in salt water/Epsom salt baths.
- Bone Health: Over ¼ of the body’s salt is in the bones. When sodium and trace mineral stores are not high enough in the body, it can pull salt from the bones to keep the rest of the body functioning. This can be a tremendous factor in osteoporosis. (Magnesium is important here as well.)
- Adrenal and Thyroid Health: the pH and trace minerals in salt are extremely important for proper adrenal and thyroid function. If you suffer from problems with either of these glands, increasing salt consumption can greatly help improve symptoms.
- Nerve function: The electrical properties in real salt help support proper nerve function and communication throughout the body.
- Water Content of Body: Just as an IV must be in the proper electrolyte concentration to be absorbed, the trace mineral in real salt help the body naturally regulate the amount of water and trace minerals it needs.
- Sexual Health: The same hormone-supporting properties of salt make it supportive of healthy libido and sexual function
- Digestive Health: When consumed with water, it can help optimize the environment in the digestive system and increase stomach acid. This makes it helpful in dealing with digestive disorders, heartburn, and other digestive problems.
- Though not scientifically studied, there are cases of doctors helping or eliminating conditions in their patients with the use of real salt and water, including: arthritis, lyme disease, hypertension, neurological disorders, and skin issues.
- Eczema and Psoriasis: The same helpful properties make it helpful both internally and externally for skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
- Oral Health: its trace minerals can be helpful for oral health and for re-mineralizing teeth. Swishing with a salt water mixture daily can help improve oral health.
What Kind of Salt is Best?
At our house, we have several different types of natural salt (black lava, Celtic sea salt, etc.) but our favorite BY FAR is Himalayan Salt.
This type of salt is found deep in the Himalayan mountains and contains all 84 trace minerals needed by the body. It is naturally pink or red and has a much milder flavor.
In my opinion, this is the highest quality salt available, as it is from the mineral rich Himalayan mountains and is not affected by the chemicals and toxins that are increasing in quantity even in natural sea salt.
I add this type of salt to almost all of our foods, and even take it plain in water at times.
Other real salts like Celtic sea salt and black lava salt (contains activated charcoal) are also beneficial.
How To Consume It
If you aren’t used to consuming salt, it may be difficult to make a transition back to healthy consumption (though many people find that their bodies crave it and respond very well immediately).
If you aren’t used to eating enough, there are some easy ways you can increase your intake:
- Add it to your foods and avoid processed foods or eating out, since you will consume large amounts of processed table salt. Salt to taste and don’t worry about eating too much.
- Drink ½ tsp of quality salt in a quart of water daily to help raise your electrolyte and trace mineral levels. (This mixture is called sole)
- Soak in a relaxing bath with added magnesium and Himalayan or Celtic salt (2 tablespoons of each).
- For skin issues: Make a poultice of real salt and water (or honey) and apply to areas with eczema or psoriasis.
- Make a scrub with finely powdered sea salt and natural oil (like coconut or olive) to use as an exfoliant in the shower.
- Use a salt board for cooking and curing foods
- If you suffer from asthma or allergies, try a sea salt inhaler to help alleviate symptoms
- Use a Himalayan Salt Bar “Soap” in the shower to sooth and heal skin (some say this is very anti-aging) and is very gentle for children with eczema
- Use a salt deodorant bar if you are sensitive to even natural deodorants
- Swish daily with a salt water mixture in the mouth for 30-60 seconds. The trace minerals will help remineralize teeth and the pH of the salt will help improve the pH of the mouth.
- Make sure you are also consuming enough magnesium and other minerals, as most people are also deficient in magnesium. Magnesium will help absorption of other minerals and vice versa.
- Though it won’t help sodium levels in the body, there is some evidence that a Himalayan salt lamp can ionize and cleanse the air. Either way, they are pretty!
We get our Himalayan Salt at a discount from here, which is the cheapest and highest quality source I’ve found.
Real salt is necessary for so many things within the body and this is one health change that is easy (and tasty) to make.
Our bodies naturally crave salty foods, and many people even crave the beach (real salt plus vitamin D!). Make sure you are consuming enough!
What are your thoughts on salt? Scared of it? Unsure? Avid salt eater? Weigh in below!
Discussion (111 Comments)
What is your stance on Redmond Real Salt?
From what I can tell, it is also a great option.
Hello! I’m new to your site and I’ve been devouring all the great information on your site. Your articles in particular have pushed us over the edge in leading us to a grain-free diet (something I never thought my husband would get on board with!). My question is in regard to salt consumption in babies. I have a very picky 8-1/2-month-old who is only really interested in the food that I am putting in my mouth. I have tried setting salt-free portions of whatever we are eating aside for her, but she just doesn’t want it (smart little booger). We use mainly Himalayan salt in all our cooking. Do you think it’s OK to let her eat salted food off of my plate? Or should I just keep trying to push the unsalted version until she gets past the first year? Thanks!
Salt is absolutely fine for her age! Babies need the trace minerals too! 🙂
I love this site I read an article about a man who used Himalayan salt to cure his neuropathy so I tried it and it seems to be working for me in one week I have regained about 50% of the feeling back in my hands. My energy level is through the roof and I do not seem to be as hungry as I was before. Just a word about grain. God created the Cow and the grain fields. In the old days before dry cereal man had mush which was soaked grain for 24 hours and cows milk. The grain created a 3 stage peristaltic action in the colon ( the colon is U shaped and all sides of the colon are moving) most foods cause a 1 stage peristaltic action meaning just one side of the colon is moving. Then along came Dry cereal. and no more 3 stage action then came pasteurization and homogenization of milk taking the good qualities away from the milk we drink. Originally as we ate the mush with the cows milk the grain would absorb the the fat and cholesterol from the milk and the milk would act as a buffer protecting the grain from irritating the lining of the stomach. So if you can soak your white wheat or better yet Kamut a rare wheat that was extinct until about 25 years ago, found in a pyramid in Egypt and not altered by man. Then go milk Elsie the Cow this is still the best thing for you. But 1% or 2% milk will not buffer the grain and the grain will surely cause allergies and other health problems.
Hi Ernest where do you get your Himalayan Salt from
Hi there, I’m just curious what made you so confident in this specific type of salt, despite all of the scam articles being published about it? If you search “Himalayan Salt Scam,” tons of articles come up about how it has too much flouride, that it isn’t really found in the Himalayans, etc. I’m pretty much on board to switch to this stuff, but I’d like to know what had you convinced?
There is definitely research on both sides… just as there is with pretty much anything out there… Have you seen what they say about grains :-). Anyway, I’ve done a lot of research on this, and tried different salts across the board, and found Himalayan salt to be the highest quality. Certainly, though, there are other good alternatives like Celtic salt, if you aren’t convinced about Himalayan.
Hi there! Wondering what your thoughts are on Redmond’s Real Salt. It’s what we’ve been using for years. It has pinkish brown tones throughout.
From what I’ve read, that is another good brand
What kind of salt do you use/recommend in baking? That’s the only reason I keep regular table salt around – is Himalayan salt a good replacement?
Himalayan salt is great for all of it 🙂
My Himalayan salt recommends adding it after cooking. I tend to forget to add salt after cooking so I tend to eat my food without salt. Is there a reason for not adding the Himalayan salt during cooking?
I am also wondering about this. I also think that adding salt after cooking does not effect the overall flavour of the food in quite the same way, so I would prefer to cook with salt. If I find out anything, I will post an update 🙂
What about iodine? I use celtic salt too but am not sure I include enough foods w/ iodine in them. Is the only way to get enough by taking supplements?
You can add kelp powder to foods or just make sure to get enough iodine containing foods. There is some controversy over supplemental iodine, so I’d try to the real food sources first…
I have thyroid issues (autoimmune in nature) and only do real salt (currently Redmond’s but will definitely try Himalayan too!). If I take any type of iodine supplement or kelp supplement I notice I develop thyroid pain/swelling within a couple of days, but I seem to do great with eating normal servings of kelp a couple of times a week. I like SeaSnax.
Be careful with that thyroid. I know 2 women that had out. Thyroid also if taken out, causes horrific mood swings, both women after were diagnosed bi-polar..Keep it! Do everything you can to control. I have high blood pressure, and on 2 meds, Lisinipril & Norvasc, at night a calcium channel blocker. I am wrestling as to sea salt & no iodine or continue with what I am using, Salt Sense by Diamond Chrystal, 33% less sodium, but with iodine. I’m 74 too…last few years craving more sweets, like cookies. Never had a sweet tooth either in my life. Fun isn’t it? Good we can all post.
Kristin, My functional doctor has helped me a lot with Hashimotos, and has specialized in that field for many years now with a lot of success. He has encouraged me to NOT take iodine, including kelp. He has also asked me to switch from Himalayan salt to sea salt, as Himalayan has more iodine in it. The autoimmune nature of Hashimotos sees iodine as TPO or tTG, and it revs up the autoimmune attack (The numbers in T3 and T4 refer to the number of iodine molecules). That is why you feel swelling in your thyroid when you take iodine. Swelling indicates inflammation from heightened auto immunity. For most people with low thyroid, iodine is very helpful, but for Hashimotos it is not. So, I’d stick with sea salt, and avoid kelp and see if you have less flare ups.
. . . oops, just TPO is affected. Here is an interesting article about iodine for Hoshis by Dr. Kharrazian. http://thyroidbook.com/blog/iodine-and-hashimotos/
To clarify, he suggests limiting/avoiding iodine, but of course it should be found in any healthy diet in small amounts anyway. As a necessary part of our diet, we must have some iodine. But, his point is that taking a supplement causes a risk for Hoshis folks.
your doctor is an idiot. i would suggest doing research about the infinite healing benefits of iodine and the dangers of being iodine deficient instead of listening to one dumb man.
This has me worried as well. The Redmond Sea Salt that we use has a tiny amount of iodine, but my husband says it’s not enough. After researching we qualify as one of those remote inland places that doesn’t naturally get enough iodine. But, when I found a “sea salt” with added iodine, it also had dextrose, which just seemed completely pointless to me. I think I’m going to look into the iodine containing foods first.
I add Kelp to smoothies or even sprinkle on food to get the iodine…
I recently read an article based on Stanford (if i remember correctly) tests that show that 9 out of 10 natural kelp products contain dangerous amounts of arsenic. This research was spawned after a woman became toxic from kelp supplement.
Didn’t even read the comments before I posted. Oops! Anyway…That’s awesome, Bigbucketsoflove! Congrats!
Enlightening post! I’ve been limiting salt intake for a long time now. I’m not sure we can get Himalayan salt where I live, though. I’ve been using Real Salt for a while now, though. It’s apparently from an ancient sea bed in Utah and it’s pink.
That’s what i use and it is great stuff and taste very good . I’v have done this water and salt cure for almost 3years and i got rid of cancer and fill im in my 20s and im 61 .
I am THRILLED to find this website. Thank you soooooo very much for sharing all of this information. I have battled breast cancer for 2 1/2 years and have just finished chemo and radiation….so now that all of my treatments are over, I want to focus on everything I can to transition to a healthy lifestyle for myself and my family….husband and 3 daughters. Thank you so much for taking the time to share all of this! I will visit often and share this site with others!!!
Thanks for reading and congrats on beating cancer! That is wonderful that you are focusing on a healthy lifestyle for you and your family! Some other things that might help with the jump start to healthier living (and boost the body after chemo) are magnesium (magnesium oil is good), probiotics, gelatin (to help cell regeneration), Vitamin D and vitamin C. If you haven’t already, cutting the grains a sugar, even for a few months, should help too! Good luck 🙂
On what do you base your statement that the Amazon salt doesn’t appear to be as high a quality salt? I couldn’t find anything on either site that made that clear. Other than marketing words that the Amazon one is the “highest quality available.” I buy the Trader Joe’s Himalayan Salt grinder and I love it but how do I determine its quality?
I was just comparing those two based on the taste and how dissolvable they are since I’ve personally tried both. I haven’t tried the Trader Joe’s version, but if it is pink or red it should be good.