"Reduce your salt intake" is health advice we've all heard before. A high-salt diet is associated with hypertension, heart disease and poor kidney function. Following a low-salt diet has become commonplace but should we be taking this advice with a pinch of salt?
Salt is high in sodium, a mineral that, in excess, disrupts the delicate ratio among the other major alkali minerals (calcium, magnesium and potassium), disrupting the body's fluid balance and causing retention, which puts pressure on your entire system.
However, in our aversion to all things salty, we are missing out on the valuable minerals salt has to offer. Salt is essential for the body, according to Dr David Brownstein, the author of Salt: Your Way to Health. "We cannot live without salt," Brownstein says. "The human body was designed to require and crave salt. It's the second most common substance in our bodies."
The problem is with the table salt that many of us consume, which is heavily processed and has toxic additives. It's also very high in sodium with no other real mineral content. This is not good for your body, as Brownstein reports. He says that table salt specifically is responsible for the health problems related to too much salt in the diet.
Unrefined salt is different and has many health benefits. It aids hydration and helps your body absorb nutrients. It also contains magnesium, calcium and potassium and helps the immune system fight fatigue and headaches.
You don't get these additional minerals with table salt, only the sodium and additives due to high-heat processing. Unrefined salt should be used exclusively in cooking as a replacement for the usual table salt. Look for Himalayan or Celtic Sea salt and start salting. Brownstein suggests an intake of between a half- to full teaspoon per day.
Laura Holland is a well-being consultant and nutritional therapist. For more information, go to www.BeUtifulYou.com