New Zealand Salt Producing Centre at Lake Grassmere. Courtesy of Dominion Salt
Unrefined Salt is an important ingredient to good health. In fact, no electrolyte is more essential to human survival than salt.
The controversy about salt is two-fold: first, about whether iodised salt is good for you and second, about how much salt one should have. Natural Sea Salt health benefits are well documented, how much we should have is still controversial. We believe the two are linked: the benefits are tied to the quality of the salt consumed.
Unrefined Salts vs Table Salt
It may be helpful to think of salt in the same way you think of sugar.
Refined sugar contains none of the trace elements (very low levels of both essential and non-essential minerals) and cofactors necessary for health that unrefined sugar does. These trace elements and cofactors are useful in helping the body metabolize sugar better. Without them sugar is just calories.
Salt is much the same way. Unrefined salts, whether mined from the earth or harvested from the sea, contain a broad spectrum of trace elements, often in the same balance as are found in human blood. Refined, industrial grade table salt, on the other hand, has had all of these trace elements removed. It is pure sodium chloride, with an anti-caking agent and, in some cases, iodine added in. For the most part, the various grades of salt are all the same; chemically most are greater than 99% sodium chloride, but the structure varies widely.
The sodium we get from salt allows nerves to send and receive electrical impulses. It also keeps our muscles strong and makes our brain work. It’s actually what makes every cell in our body function.
Evidence in favour of salt intake is strong, too. Studies from the Journal of the American Medical Association show that people with the highest salt consumption sometimes have the longest lives. More over, The American Journal of Hypertension say there is no strong evidence that cutting salt intake reduced the risk of heart attacks or strokes. In fact, reducing salt to levels recommended by most governments can cause harm and decrease life expectancy.
Our Body's many Needs for Salt
The composition of our blood and the other fluids in our bodies have an amazing similarity to seawater. Certainly one of Sea Salt health benefits is that it's naturally available in the perfect mineral balance & in a chemically natural form (chelated), which makes it easy for the human body to metabolize. It is believed that good health will ensue if we get the necessary 24 essential mineral elements in our bodies in the proper balance. Whenever a deficiency of one or many of these minerals occur, the regenerating power of the cells is compromised and the resulting impact manifests itself as illnesses that are often hard to pinpoint or correct.
According to Dr. Jacques Langre, Ph.D. who wrote the book “Seasalt’s Hidden Powers”, unrefined salt is thought to have incredible positive effects on the body’s functions. In conjunction with water, salt is essential to the regulation of blood pressure, and plays a vital role in the extraction of excess acidity in the body, in the balancing of sugar levels in the blood, and in the absorption of food by the intestinal tract. It plays a key part in clearing the respiratory system of mucus, and is vital to the nerve cells ability to communicate and to the brain. Salt is also strong natural antihistamine, is essential in the prevention of muscle cramps, and plays a key role in sleep regulation. Twenty-seven percent of the body’s salt is in the bones – it is vital to structural integrity of skeletal tissue.
The other component of salt, chloride, is also essential to survival and good health. It preserves acid-base balance in the body, aids potassium absorption, improves the ability of the blood to move harmful carbon dioxide from tissues out to the lungs and, most importantly, it supplies the crucial stomach acids required to break down and digest all the foods we eat.
Long before the advent of refrigeration, people used salt to preserve food. The salt in your diet also acts as a natural antibiotic to fight infection. A recent study on salt published in the academic journal Cell Metabolism shows how this works. Researchers found that salt is stored in the skin cells and whenever there is an infection, the body concentrates its salt reservoir in that spot. The salt increases the capacity of immune cells to kill microbes and a higher salt diet means more salt is stored in your skin cells.
The Truth about Salt and our Body
Salt has now been one of the great villains for a few decades. Traditionally, New Zealanders sprinkle salt over a meal before even tasting it. This habit not only irks many chefs, it is unhealthy. Excess salt can cause health problems such as high blood pressure. On average, New Zealanders consume about 9 grams of sodium per day – while the current recommended amount is between 2.3 grams and 6 grams. The New Zealand recommended daily intake of salt for adults is 2300mg or 6g per day (about 1 teaspoon from all food sources). According to the Stroke Foundation of New Zealand, less is better, especially if you’re managing high blood pressure.
Yet, Brian Strom, MD, chair of the Institute of Medicine ’s report committee says “There’s no data — none — showing that curtailing sodium intake below 2,300 milligrams provides better health outcomes” . The report (commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) looked at 34 studies and four clinical trials that tracked the health of people consuming different amounts of salt over the course of up to 18 years.
The conclusion: There isn’t enough convincing evidence that people — even those in high-risk groups — who consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day have fewer heart attacks or strokes than those who consume higher amounts.
Dr. Michael Alderman and Dr. Hillel Cohen of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine reviewed 23 observational studies covering some 360,000 individuals and published their comprehensive results in the July 2012 edition of the American Journal of Hypertension. They found that both the very low and very high levels of salt consumption negatively affected health, but in between those extremes, a very broad safe range of salt consumption resulted in optimum health.
Why do We Crave Salt?
Many of us crave salt because our bodies crave the missing elements which are absent from the refined salt or not present in sufficient quantities in unrefined salt. Many of the missing elements are needed only in minute quantities (trace) but their absence is thought to contribute to many of today’s illnesses. That is why we believe that a combination of natural unrefined sea salt and seaweed provides the best possible nourishment for our bodies. Seaweed provides a different balance of minerals than salt (less sodium and more of the other essential minerals) and is also the best source of natural iodine in nature.
Pacific Harvest produces ‘Kelp Salt’, which combines the many health benefits of natural sea salt with those of kelp seaweed. Kelp Salt is a natural sea salt using iodine naturally occurring in kelp to produce a ‘naturally iodised natural sea salt’. Its strong mineral taste is satisfying, therefore requiring a smaller amount to get the salty taste.
Huffington Post article 2013, The truth about Salt
Association of Urinary Sodium and Potassium Excretion with Blood Pressure
Urinary Sodium and Potassium Excretion, Mortality, and Cardiovascular Events
Low Sodium Intake — Cardiovascular Health Benefit or Risk?
Institute of Medicine Report Results
Disclaimer: This material is provided for educational purposes only and IS NOT intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This information is generic and may not include the latest research. We encourage you to do your own research and discuss your findings with a qualified health practitioner who can help you validate the outcomes in the context of your specific & individual health situation.