The salt of yesteryear was a healthful, whole food, but today it’s been stripped and processed into a disaster waiting to happen. What began as an essential nutrient has been disfigured into a substance our bodies are not meant to use. Although salt has been doled a bad reputation in recent years, you might be surprised to hear that traditional cultures greatly valued natural salt and would go to great lengths to procure it. And for good reason:
- Commercial salt is typically 97.5-99.9% sodium chloride, whereas a quality unrefined salt is only about 87% sodium chloride. This is because unrefined sea salt contains a rich content of important trace minerals.
- Table salt is typically full of additives, fluoride, anti-caking agents, excessive amounts of potassium iodide and other poisons. Many versions of commercial salt also contain aluminum derivatives, which are known to be highly toxic. These additives can cause discoloration in salt, so bleaching agents are then used to restore the desirable white color.
With this kind of processing, it’s no wonder refined commercial salt is causing so many health problems! Unfortunately, the key differences between refined salt and unrefined salt are not yet widely recognized, so the general assumption is that all salt is bad–which is definitely not the case.
Salt, Trace Minerals and Electrolytes
Unrefined natural salt, naturally harvested and dried in the sun, contains a wealth of trace minerals and electrolytes. Our bodies only need small amounts of these nutrients, but they are still absolutely vital for a variety of functions in the body. In fact, they are key players in enzyme production as well as immune system, adrenal and thyroid function.
Table salt causes imbalances of fluid throughout the body and puts a great deal of strain on the elimination systems. In contrast, unrefined natural salt allows the body to achieve a balance of water both inside and outside cells. With adequate natural sodium and pure water, conditions like gout, muscle cramps, water retention and edema often disappear.
Salt and Digestion
Salt and Adrenal Health
Making the Switch to Unrefined Natural Salt
If you eat mostly home cooked food, then simply switching to unrefined salt at home will greatly reduce your intake of refined commercial salt. However, packaged and processed foods are hidden sources of commercial salt. The more convenience food you buy, the more refined sodium will dominate your diet. Since packaged foods are often loaded with other unhealthy ingredients (like vegetable oils or refined sugars), it’s wise to steer clear of them whenever you can, anyway.
And I have to say it’s hard to go back to refined table salt after tasting the real stuff. Real salt just has this full-bodied flavor that one-dimensional commercial salt can’t touch.
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