The salt we’re accustomed to using comes in a blue container–the one with the little girl dressed in yellow, carrying an umbrella. “When it rains, it pours!”
This, and most salt in the average home, is commercial refined table salt, 99 percent sodium chloride. Sodium chloride is essential to human life and is important for regulating mineral balance, along with potassium and calcium. Salt regulates cellular water levels. But the table salt that most of us use has been processed and is not salt in its natural state. During the refining of table salt, natural sea salt or rock salt that has been mined is stripped of more than 60 trace minerals and essential macro-nutrients. It’s a processed food.
Refined salt is also heated to such high temperatures that the chemical structure of the salt changes, and it is chemically cleaned, bleached, and treated with anti-caking agents (that’s why it pours so easily). Common anti-caking agents used in the mass production of salt are sodium alumino-silicate and alumino-calcium silicate. These are both sources of aluminum, a heavy metal that has been implicated in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Refined salt is usually fortified with iodine, which is essential for thyroid function. Severe lack of iodine causes goiter (swelling of the thyroid in the neck), a result of the thyroid gland swelling. We’ve been led to believe that we need refined salt with iodine and that this is one of the only sources. Not so – sea vegetables and seafood are the perfect source for iodine, followed by dairy (yogurt, milk) and eggs. You don’t need to seek out refined salt fortified artificially with iodine to maintain a healthy balance of the mineral.
Excess REFINED salt intake has been linked to the following ailments:
Refined salt is just like refined sugar in the sense that they’ve both been stripped of nutrients and processed and are no longer whole foods. Do not consume refined salt! It is not supportive to good health and makes it more difficult for your body to achieve homeostasis and proper electrolyte balance. To avoid refined salt, do not consume processed foods (especially soups and microwave dinners), many of which are extremely high in refined salt that is added as a preservative. Avoid buying table salt at the store.
Buy sea salt. There are many on the market, from plain old sea salt to fleur de sel, gray french sea salt, and Hawaiian sea salt (pink!). Many are coarse, but you can grind to make them fine. Since they do not contain anti-caking agents, they do not “pour” as easily and are best used in pinches. A pinch packs more punch than refined salt because it is the real thing!
I love the Himalayan crystal salt, considered the highest grade of natural salt, and it contains 84 elements and helps your body maintain a healthy electrolyte balance. I’ll even add a pinch to filtered water, along with the juice of a lemon, for a natural sports energy drink post-workout. It also makes a great bath soak!
The natural sea salts are health-promoting and actually help your body maintain normal blood pressure. So, check your pantry and toss the refined table salt….. just another example of ridding your kitchen of refined foods and consuming whole, unadulterated foods, as nature intended!
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. She combines a science-based approach with natural therapies to rebalance the body. In addition to her 1:1 coaching, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and improve your health. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.