I call it the Great Salt Debate. Are you wondering if table salt or sea salt can be healthy? If either convey health benefits? If either table salt or sea salt can be harmful to your health?
Just as a deer in nature seeks out salt licks because its body knows it needs that salt to thrive, our bodies need salt and its components to function well.
No wonder I craved salt so much in my late 20’s and 30’s; I was craving its nutrients! Iodine is required by the thyroid to synthesize hormones and to regulate the metabolism. When I got Hashimoto’s Disease I had hypothyroidism, partially signified by poor sleep (hormones gone awry) and weight gain (metabolic imbalance). My thyroid was not getting enough iodine! Although iodine supplementation is controversial, it was obvious I was deficient.
Craving salt is also a sign of adrenal fatigue. Many of our body’s organs require salt to function properly.
FACTORY MADE TABLE SALT
The United States started adding iodine to highly refined table salt in 1924 in response to sweeping outbreaks of goiter and increased levels of mental retardation in the northern states, where iodine-rich foods were in short supply, foods like seaweed, dairy, eggs and seafood.
But factory-made foods containing refined salt are not fortified with iodine. Therefore, while table salt is amended with iodine, salty foods are not a source for iodine.
This is all sounds great and straightforward: get iodine from table salt or eat foods the northerners couldn’t get their hands on, right?
Instead, I’m a fan of eliminating table salt and replacing it with sea salt. We certainly don’t want to eliminate fortified table salt and not make sure to have an iodine-rich diet.
IODINE-RICH FOODS, INCLUDING SEA SALT, ARE HELPFUL BECAUSE THE RIGHT CO-FACTORS ARE PRESENT.
Factory-made salt can’t and doesn’t team iodine with the other nutrients it’s found paired with in nature — nutrients that help it to assimilate properly.
Iodized salt did help solve the goiter epidemic of the 20’s but there was a tragic increase in a thyroid autoimmune condition, thyroiditis. Why add iodine to a highly refined product, one that usually contains aluminum (to prevent caking) instead of consuming salt in its original form?
We can trust foods found in nature. When we alter foods, we have a Frankenstein situation with unpredictable, often disease-causing effects.
In its original form salt contains not only trace amounts of iodine, but other minerals that are valuable in their own right and that in conjunction with one another help us to assimilate nutrients on a cellular level, co-factors.
These trace minerals, found naturally occurring in salt, are all beneficial and necessary for our bodies to thrive.
I discuss this balance, and the electrolytes our bodies gain from salt, in my article Water is Not Enough: WHY TO SALT YOUR WATER!, found at my blog Eat Beautiful.
As with white, refined sugar, refined salt has been stripped of its nutrients and harmful, man-made chemicals have been added.
No wonder salt can be linked to heart disease, high blood pressure and strokes. Table salt and processed foods that contain refined salt should be avoided completely and considered dangerous factory-made foods. I will not touch white salt, even at a restaurant.
But sea salt, or naturally occurring salt found in caves, rivers and lakes, is a mineral-rich health food. It does not lead to heart disease or cause other health risks.
Just the opposite.
WHAT TRACE MINERALS ARE FOUND IN SEA SALT?
Salt is comprised of sodium (Na) and chloride (Cl). Sodium is used by the body, in part, to digest carbohydrates. Chloride, among its other purposes, is used by the body to break down proteins, and also has anti-pathogen properties.
Iron, iodine, magnesium, potassium, and zinc comprise a complex and subtle total of over 80 trace minerals, ones that regulate our hydration, digestion, and immune system as well as being required for proper thyroid and adrenal function.
I don’t personally believe that nutrition is found in nature on accident. It is there to bless us and the animals that consume it.
Humans often want to quantify value in terms of quantity. There has to be a lot of some measurable nutrient for us to believe it is worthy. This is just not so. Sea salt offers our bodies the subtle balance of nutrients they crave, co-factors present in perfect ratio to one another to benefit our systems.
WHAT NATURAL SEA SALTS ARE THE BEST?
Not all sea salt is made equally, of course. There are refined sea salts, even, those that look white. You want a salt that looks mineral rich; your eyes are a good judge!
That stuff is mined right here in the U.S., so it’s as local a sea salt as we’re likely to get.
Beyond consumption, salt air is used as a respiratory therapy for asthma and other lung conditions. Visit my Eat Beautiful Facebook page this week for a look at salt therapy techniques. In addition to helping acute lung issues, these methods strengthen the immune system, calm a stressed mind, help with ear infections and seasonal allergies, and improve skin issues! Salt therapy offers both anti-bacterial and anti-inflammation properties.
Whether we source salt naturally to consume it, or breath in salt air, salt has healing effects because our bodies need it for optimum health.