by Sue Ward, MS CCN
Salt is an essential dietary nutrient. Without it, life itself would not be possible since all living things utilize salt. Even the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates (450 BC), known as the father of medicine, recognized the healing potential of salt.
However, there is a major difference between refined table salt and unrefined salt, which is important to understand if you want to take advantage of the many ways salt can improve your health. Salt in its natural form is referred to as “unrefined” salt which has not been altered by man. A few examples of this type of salt include Celtic Sea Salt, Pink Himalayan Salt and Redmond Salt. These types of salt contain over 80 essential minerals and natural elements that are necessary for good health. Unrefined salt is a whole food product that supplies the body with the proper balance of sodium, chloride, minerals, trace elements and moisture, but is should be noted that it is not an appreciable source of iodine.
Common table salt is “refined” salt consisting of a higher amount of sodium and chloride than unrefined salt. The refining process strips the salt of the essential minerals and moisture, making it a lifeless product. Although this will assure a longer shelf life, this salt is exposed to ferrocyanide, ammonium citrate and aluminum silicate, none of which have any positive effects in the body. Refined salt is exposed to high heat (about 1200 degrees Fahrenheit) which alters its natural structure. The salt is also bleached in order to obtain the white color. Iodine is added to the salt to prevent goiter (enlarged thyroid), however, the amount is generally insufficient to prevent thyroid disorders. Refined salt is the type also used in food processing. These two types of salt; unrefined and refined, have nothing in common.
Adding the right type of salt to your diet can help with blood pressure, cholesterol, fatigue, headaches, muscle cramps, stress (adrenal) disorders, thyroid problems and immune system function. It helps with sinus and respiratory health and can promote bone strength and vascular health. In combination with water, it is essential for regulating your blood pressure. Unrefined salt can also help with detoxification of various harmful chemicals from the body including bromine, a toxic element that is increasing in our food supply. Bromine robs the body of iodine, a critical nutrient for the prevention of thyroid disorders and breast cancer. Bromine is found in most commercial bakery products (breads, cookies, cakes), some carbonated drinks (Mountain Dew and Gatorade) and many medications. It is also used as an antibacterial agent for pools and hot tubs as well as a fumigant for termites.
So what about low-salt diets? Conventional medical practitioners commonly recommend low-salt diets for those with high blood pressure. However, there is not much data to support low-salt diets for treating hypertension, especially since most studies did not look at unrefined salt and its impact on blood pressure. In fact, only a small minority of people will see a lower blood pressure from a low-salt diet. Many also experience a drop in energy level as well as hormonal and immune system imbalances on a low-salt diet. It is precisely the minerals contained in unrefined salt that are helpful for regulating water balance and blood pressure, potassium and magnesium in particular. Remember, refined salt is stripped of all these beneficial elements; it is a very toxic substance for our bodies and should not be used.
So be aware of these important differences between unrefined and refined salt and for optimal health, choose only unrefined salts. These will be light gray, pink or off white in color sometimes with specks of different colors, but remember that unrefined salt will never be all white. Sanoviv recommends Redmond Sea Salt, Celtic Sea Salt and Pink Himalayan salt for food, cooking or put a pinch in your pure drinking water for a healthy electrolyte drink.
“The human being must have salt, he cannot be without salt. Where there is no salt, nothing will remain, but everything will rot.” Paracelsus (1493-1541 AD)