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alt is essential for life.

During centuries salt has been revered because of the flavor and trace minerals it gives to foods. Since time immemorial, it has been considered an extremely valuable commodity due to the great difficulty to harvest mass quantities of salt from the sea. In the past, millenary cultures have used it as a seasoning, a preservative, a disinfectant, a component of ceremonial offerings, for tanning, dyeing, as a unit of exchange, and even to melt snow.

In the ancient world, entire economies were based on salt production and trade. British and Romans used to boil seawater or springwater in clay pots and lead pans in order to obtain it from evaporation. In the Roman Empire salt was used as a currency to pay. This fact derived in the roots of the words “salary” and “soldier” related to giving or receiving salt as a payment.

Ocean voyages and fishing overseas would have been impossible without salt due to food preservation. This was key for the discovery of the New World.

Besides its importance in economy, salt has also had a great religious significance in multiple traditions. The Shinto religion uses the salt to purify an area. On the resting day of Shabbat (Sabbath), Jews dip their bread (Challah) in salt as an offering. Salt is mentioned over 40 times in the Bible, and Jesus even said in Matthew 5:13: “ You are the Salt of the Earth.” The Last Supper, one of Da Vinci’s famous paintings, portrays Judas knocking over a salt container, something seen as a bad omen by Europeans. In 1933, the 13th Dalai Lama was buried sitting up in a bed of salt. Buddhism uses salt to ward off evil spirits. It’s very popular to throw salt over your shoulder before entering your house after a funeral as it scares off any bad spirits.

Salt is without doubt one of the most important cooking spices. However, not all salts are the same nor created equal. There is a great amount of varieties that differ not only in taste and texture, but also in mineral and sodium content. These include table salt, Sea Salt, Himalayan Pink Salt, Celtic salt, Kosher salt, Black Nepalese Salt ( Kala Namak ), Red and Black Hawaiian Salts

What is Salt ?

Salt is a crystalline mineral very abundant in the sea, and in some caves and mines with underground deposits left behind by the seawater at some point.

Basically, all salts come from the sea, but some ancient seas dried long ago, and left caves or mines where we find rock salts. These means that all unrefined salts should have all the minerals of the body water where they were contained.

But…

Do you know how table salt is made ?

Regular salt is obtained from underground mines using explosives that blast, and then leave their chemical residues. Afterwards, water is pumped in to create a salt brine, and then pumped out. Once collected, this salt is placed in crushing spinners, heated at high temperatures of 1,200 Fahrenheit degrees (about 650 Celsius degrees), chemically cleaned and bleached. This turns it into a denatured chemical structure not recognized by our bodies. Actually, our body recognizes this salt as a poison, and due to its molecular size it doesn’t come into the cell, but rather it drains water from it, producing cellular dehydration.

Did you know that the common salt you buy at the grocery store is the same you find in a hardware ?

Yes. Regular salt is heavily processed, heated, bleached, and treated with additives that you can find in roof tiles, cement, on the coating of welding rods to name a few. The anti-caking agents include aluminosilicate, an aluminum derivative associated with Alzheimer’s disease. It includes also sodium ferrocyanide, calcium silicate, yellow nitroprussiate, potassium iodide, and monosodium glutamate (MSG) , among many others.

Several studies have evidenced that MSG is neurotoxic producing not only brain nerve cells death, but also high blood pressure.

All this refining process, modifies the natural salt chemical structure, strips and destroys the trace minerals. For this reason, table salt is devoid of minerals. Since 1920, iodine has been added to prevent goiter due to low thyroid function (hypothyroidism). According to Dr. David Lowenstein, a thyroid expert, due to our toxic environment, iodized salt is an insufficient source of iodine. He performed a clinical study testing 5,000 patients where he found that more than 96 percent of them where iodine-deficient. The recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for iodine is set at 150 micrograms ( µg ) per day, which is slightly more in pregnancy and lactation.

Dr.Lowenstein explains that the increasing exposure to halides (bromine, fluoride and chlorine derivatives ) has made thyroid disorders such as hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s disease, Graves disease and thyroid cancer to skyrocket in the last 20 years. Based in his medical experience he says that an iodine RDA ranging from 6-50 mg/day will be adequate for the majority of the US population. He advises to include sea vegetables and fish in the diet, but also to take a iodine supplement and an unrefined sea salt like Celtic Sea Salt in order to detoxify the body from the halides exposure. It is important to know that most of the information doctors and medical providers give us about salt come from clinical studies made with regular salt and not with other salts.

Can Salt be Healthy ?

As we said before, all salts come from seawater ( modern or ancient). The concentration of our human plasma (blood’s liquid) is very similar to seawater with the exception of sodium and chloride. The sea has 3 times more chloride and sodium than the fluids that surround our cells, but the rest of the minerals are in about the same amounts. This underscores the importance of salt with its original trace minerals.

In its natural state, salt from evaporated seawater contains minerals like sodium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese, zinc, selenium, and many others. These trace elements are key for cellular function, water and pH balance, electrical impulses, nerve conduction, blood pressure regulation, heart contraction and relaxation, sleep regulation, skeletal and smooth muscle contraction and relaxation, digestion (saliva and chlorhydric acid production), bone structure, mucus clearance in lungs and sinuses, intestinal absorption and movement, and urine production, among many others.

High quality unrefined sea salts and rocky salts (from ancient dried seas) are totally different from table salt which has been stripped from its original minerals and contains toxic additive elements such as aluminum and MSG.

Many clinical studies have shown that people with low “salt” diets wake up two times more often than those with a regular intake. Table salt has been stripped of  trace minerals that are key for sleep like magnesium. The American Heart Association (AHA) has stablished not to consume more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of salt per day with an ideal limit of 1,500 mg for adults.

Do Sea Salts and Rock Salts raise blood pressure ?

First of all, when we speak about salt, we usually refer to sodium chloride (NaCl). Nonetheless, when you check the composition of blood, interstitial, intra and extracellular fluids you can easily see that we have multiple electrolytes (electrically charged particles) besides NaCl.

In each one of our body’s cell, sodium (Na) works coupled with potassium ( K ) in the Na-K-ATPase pump that is vital to keep water balance and energy production in the form of Adenosine Triphosphatase (ATP). Elements like potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphates are critical for intracellular functions.

Many other trace minerals are critical players as cofactors for enzymes, hormones and multiple biochemical reactions all over our body.

There is an existing myth that consuming “salt” produces hypertension. But what type of salt are we talking about ? Regular toxic salt or maybe unrefined pure sea salt like Celtic salt that has 60 minerals or pure Himalayan sea salt with 84 minerals…?

Many clinical studies have shown that people with low “salt” diets wake up two times more often than those with a regular intake. Table salt has been stripped of trace minerals that are key for sleep like magnesium.

The American Heart Association (AHA) has stablished not to consume more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of salt per day with an ideal limit of 1,500 mg for adults.

Again, what type of salt are we talking about ? Sodium is an essential element for our body, so…. Is salt restriction safe ?

Multiple clinical studies have shown that low-salt diets actually increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and death in people with and without high blood pressure compared to those with an usual consumption . One of these papers , was published in The Lancet and involved more than 130,000 people from 49 countries.

An article appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) evidenced people with the lowest levels of sodium died earlier than those who ate average amounts of salt.

A study released in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), measured sodium consumption in more than 100,000 people in 17 countries and found that, in fact, the healthy range for sodium around the world is between 3,000 and 6,000 mg/day or 3 to 6 grams per day. This means the international average consumption of salt is above the AHA recommendations.

There is a misbelief that the less salt you eat, the healthier your blood pressure will be.

When we take very little salt in our diet the blood flow to our kidney is reduced, and sensed as low blood pressure. This activates the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system and our body responds by releasing renin (an enzyme) and aldosterone (a hormone) to increase sodium absorption which retains water and rises blood flow to our kidneys – which increases our blood pressure and ensures adequate blood flow to your kidneys. Low salt intake produces an overactive hormone system that produces hypertension.

A comparison between multiple scientific studies called meta-analysis that appeared in the American Journal of Hypertension on March 2014, concluded that low-and-excessive-sodium diets are associated with increased mortality in comparison with a usual sodium consumption between 2,645 mg and 4,945 mg . Hence, these data support the hypothesis that a U shape best describes the relationship between sodium intake and health conditions. In other words, if you eat “salt” within the normal range you shouldn’t have problems with blood pressure.

But again… what kind of salt are we talking about ? Refined or Unrefined ?

In contrast with regular salt, unrefined sea salts like Celtic Sea Salt, Fleur de Sel contain up to 60 minerals, and unrefined rocky salts like the Himalayan Pink salt and the Peruvian Pink salt contain up to 84 minerals according to their certificate of analysis.

Electrolyte balance is key for our body. Normally, an electrical impulse is generated when a sodium (Na) molecule enters the cell and stimulates a rise in potassium (K), which makes then sodium to leave the cell. This is achieved with the Na-K-ATPase pump. Without this phenomenon it would be impossible to move your arm or contract a muscle in your body.

Besides toxic elements, hypertension is linked to processed foods with high sodium and low potassium content. Most of the ingested sodium comes from processed foods that contain excessive regular salt, very low potassium and trace minerals. It is believed that the rise of intracellular sodium ions, increases the cellular calcium (Ca) concentrations through the Na/Ca exchanger. This rise in Ca results in contraction of vascular smooth muscle and cardiac muscle which eventually leads to high blood pressure.

Several studies have shown that the reduced intake of potassium increases blood pressure values, while diets rich in potassium have an anti-hypertensive effect ( Siani et al, 1991 ). This means that sodium is not alone in our body. Actually, our Na-K-ATPase pump takes out 3 Na molecules from the cell and gets in 2 K molecules. The Na/K ratio is essential for normal blood pressure and life. Hypertension is generated by excess Na and a deficit of K inside our cells.

A combination of daily habits such as lack of exercise, consumption of processed foods (regular salt), high carbohydrate intake (high fructose corn syrup), a diet low in fiber and trace minerals (vegetables), alcoholism, smoking, stress and sleep deprivation contribute with hypertension.

It is well known that Western diet is deficient in micronutrients mainly magnesium (Mg). In fact, some studies have shown that 80 % of the US population is deficient in magnesium to one degree or another. It is estimated that worldwide 70% of the people have low body levels of this mineral. The root of this situation is linked to the way food is produced with fertilizers like phosphorous, nitrogen and potassium instead of natural manure. The result is a soil depleted not only of healthy bacteria, but also of minerals like magnesium, which is a critical element for more than 600 metabolic reactions in our body, and also a great cerebral protector.

Magnesium is not a panacea. Many scientists called it “nature’s Valium™ ” because one of its multiple perks is to relieve chronic stress conditions. A long-term deficiency of magnesium can give rise to neurological disorders such as hyperexcitability, apathy end even psychosis. This doesn’t happens in Japan where soils are rich in this mineral. Japanese have an average intake of 700 mg of magnesium derived from foods which in turns contributes with their longevity, less rate of dementia, better neurological, cardiovascular and bone health.

Unrefined sea salt or rocky salt is healthy. The blood-pressure-raising effect of table salt can be due to its high sodium content (97.5 % to 99% ) with not enough magnesium and minerals like potassium to balance it. Due to their crystals size and hand-harvesting process, sea salts like Celtic Salt (grey ), Fleur de Sel (flower salt), Himalayan Pink salt (from Pakistan) and Pink Peruvian salt (from Maras) contain 85% of sodium and 15% of minerals. This means that unrefined sea salts are rich in magnesium, trace elements, and free of toxic additives and chemical processes.

Magnesium is a very important mineral to maintain blood pressure. Scientific studies relating dietary magnesium and hypertension found that not only does blood pressure increase with magnesium deficiency, but that the more severe the magnesium deficiency, the higher the blood pressure. On the other hand, supplementing with 500–1000 mg/day of magnesium can lead to reduction in blood pressure by acting as a natural calcium channel blocker, thereby increasing nitric oxide and improving endothelial dysfunction.

A South Korean study published in Food & Nutrition Research 2017 demonstrated that natural sea salt consumprion confers protection against hypertension and kidney damage in Dahl salt-sensitive rats. It is believed that this anti-hypertensive effect is due to the content of trace elements different from salt. These precious minerals work together like in an orchestra.

Dr. Jacues de Langre, Ph.D in biochemistry from the University of Brussels, openly agrees that refined salt (pure sodium chloride) is toxic to the body and can cause high blood pressure, but states that hand-harvested Sea Salt is extremely healthy, and has the opposite effect of refined salt.

In his book, Dr. de Langre, shows why the heart contracts and pumps easier with a rich mineralized salt than in a low-salt diet. He also demonstrates how a hand-harvested salt like Celtic salt helps to cleanse the plaque off blood vessel walls.

It is said that life originated in the sea. This is evidenced in the amazing similarity between Sea Water and human blood (plasma) with almost the same concentrations of oligoelements. Certainly sea water has three more times sodium and chloride, but the amount of the other trace minerals is almost the same.

Some sources state that sea water contains up to 92 essential minerals. The water that surrounds our cells (interstitial liquid) is filled with these minerals, so this means that sea salt is the perfect nutritional matrix for our body.

When micronutrients and minerals lack in our diet, cells lose the ability to control their ions with extreme consequences for humans. Even a minute loss of ion balance causes cells to burst, neurological disorder, brain damage, or muscle spasms, as well as a breakdown of the cell-regenerating process and growth. While table salt retains water and dehydrates the cell, sea salt due to its molecular structure, allows water to get in the cell and re-hydrates it.

According to nobel laureate, Otto Warburg, chronic diseases like cancer, arise from an acidic and hypoxic environment, while these ailments are never present in cells with an alkaline and well oxygenated terrain. Real Sea Salt is one of the most alkalizing elements with electromagnetic capabilities that restore cell functions according to Dr.Jacues de Langre research.

In a next article, we will make a Journey around the World in the quest for the healthiest salts. As Stephen Covey quoted, based in Buckminster Fuller’s trim tab principle, “ The Secret of Big Changes relies in Small Changes.”

The next time you choose “salt”, be sure it is an unrefined high-quality salt, harvested from a reliable source in a traditional, artisanal way and kept as pure as possible.

In conclusion, a small change in your life like changing the type of salt can have an enormous impact in health and quality of life… so…

“Change Your Salt, Change Your Life”