EDWARDS — “Salt increases blood pressure and is bad for your health,” says a common statement. As a result, we’ve all decreased our salt intake. This health warning is often true of refined salt, the common, white, granular, devitalized substance found on most of our tables.
Salt is refined to provide a longer shelf life and because manufacturers thought people would like white, “clean” salt better than naturally occurring colored salt. To make white, refined table salt, the natural minerals and elements are removed using chemicals such as sulfuric acid and/or chlorine. Then anti-caking agents (sodium ferrocyanide, ammonium citrate and aluminum silicate) can be added since up to 2 percent of food grade salt is allowed these substances. Dextrose, a refined sugar, can also be added as a stabilizer to maintain added iodine in the salt.
Unrefined sea salt
On the other hand, unrefined sea salt is either gray or pink and contains more than 80 naturally occurring minerals and elements essential for optimal health. Refined salt contains no minerals unless iodine is added back in. Because of all the naturally occurring minerals and elements in unrefined salt, the percentage of sodium chloride is lower than in refined salt. Some common examples of unrefined sea salt include Celtic sea salt, Himalayan sea salt and Real Salt (from Utah).
However, just because the label says sea salt, it does not mean it’s unrefined. There are plenty of refined sea salts available that have had their minerals and elements removed to give it that clean, white appearance.
All nutrients work together
Salt is designed to be ingested with its naturally occurring complement of elements and minerals. The full complement of elements and minerals are utilized synergistically in our body and necessary to fuel cellular processes, metabolism, detoxification, ensure appropriate enzyme function, maintain appropriate hydration and kidney function, and optimal functioning of our immune, hormonal and nervous systems.
No vitamin, mineral or essential element works by itself. Each nutrient requires a complement of other nutrients for proper and efficient use. It is unrealistic to think one vitamin or mineral will solve a complicated health issue. A balance of nutrients in the right proportions is necessary for optimal functioning.
Mineral deficient diets can lead to adrenal gland dysfunction causing hormonal issues with DHEA, cortisol, aldosterone, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Thyroid function requires appropriate minerals to include selenium, magnesium and iodine not only for thyroid hormone production (T4), but also to convert the inactive (T4) to the active form (T3).
Refined foods stripped of their vitamins, minerals and enzymes cause deficiencies, tend to acidify the body and can lead to chronic illness. Unrefined foods in their naturally occurring state help maintain a more neutral pH and provide nutrients in proper proportions.
Unrefined salt can help detoxify the body through increased urinary excretion. In addition, the chloride in salt will displace toxic bromine found in carbonated drinks (Mountain Dew), medications (Atrovent, ipratropium), pools and hot tubs, agriculture and bakery products. In a previous article, we discussed how iodine can be replaced with bromine in bakery products.
Both water and salt are essential for human life. Adults are approximately 70 percent water, with the brain containing about 80 percent water. An adult has approximately 250 grams of salt. It is almost impossible to adequately hydrate with plain water since salt is required to maintain fluid balance in the kidneys and required for fluid exchange at the cellular level. Hydration in emergency rooms is accomplished with sodium chloride, not plain water. So why not hydrate with the full complement of the essential minerals and elements rather than devitalized refined salt?
Due to its dense mineral and nutrient profile, use of unrefined salt can also help with diabetes, fatigue, muscle recovery after exercise, insomnia, cholesterol, leg cramps and bone density. Unrefined salt has not been shown to increase blood pressure. So, flavor your favorite foods with some healthy, unrefined sea salt and enjoy.
Disclaimer: The information in this article does not replace professional medical diagnosis, treatment or advice. We strongly advise that you seek professional advice before making any health decision.
Dr. Susan Lan is the owner of Vail Osteopathy in Edward. She practices holistic integrative medicine and traditional osteopathic manipulation. She can be reached at 970-306-1448, www.vailosteopathy.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/VailOsteopathy.