Can you answer this: what is the only rock eaten by human beings, and the object of wars throughout recorded history and before?

Have you guessed? Yes, it is SALT! 

Salt vs Sodium… 

While the words “salt” and “sodium” are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. Sodium is a mineral, and salt is one of the biggest dietary sources of that mineral. (so essentially… sodium comes from Salt)

Sodium functions as an electrolyte that helps regulate the body’s fluid balance that affects blood pressure and is the main ingredient in salt. Ordinary table salt is only 40 percent sodium. The other 60 percent is another mineral, chloride.

Too much… 

Too much salt (sodium) is associated with high blood pressure and increased risk of cardiovascular conditions. To reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease, the Heart Foundation recommends adults eat less than 5g of salt (2000mg of sodium) a day.

Salt and weight gain… 

Surprise! There are proven links between high sodium intake and poor health, but are the sodium weight-gain rumors true?

Salt Affects Water Retention… 

High salt intake can cause temporary water-weight gain because salt is an electrolyte that encourages fluid retention. Salt weight gain is usually insignificant and temporary. If the scale goes up after consuming copious amounts of salty food, it may not be true weight gain.

Salt and Body Fat.. 

But we’re not just talking about water weight here. High salt diets appear to be linked to higher body fat, in particular, the kind of fat that accumulates around your middle.

Salt and Hunger… 

A surprising finding in recent research is that high salt intake causes decreased thirst and increased appetite. Though participants drank fewer liquids, researchers found that the increased sodium led to a water surplus in the body, increased body weight and increased hunger. So even though traditional thinking has been that salty foods make people drink more water, scientists found that it actually reduces thirst and makes people more prone to overeating, weight gain and even metabolic syndrome, which can lead to diabetes and other serious conditions.

Salt and Gut Health…

Moderating/reducing our sodium intake may help us maintain healthier gut flora, which is associated with healthier body weight. Who saw that coming…

The Upside of Salt… 

Salt is bad for blood pressure but good for brain development. The human body can’t live without some sodium. It is needed to transmit nerve impulses, contract and relax muscle fibers (including those in the heart and blood vessels), and maintain a proper fluid balance. It doesn’t take much to do this however. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults consume up to 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. The American Heart Association recommends even less sodium with an ideal intake of 1,500 milligrams per day. (less than a teaspoon)

Too little salt.. 

While you lose a little sodium every day when you sweat or urinate, it is generally not enough to cause a sodium deficiency unless you are severely malnourished.

It is possible to be sodium-deficient if you overexert yourself and lose excessive amounts of sodium in sweat.  You can also  drive your sodium levels down by drinking too much water and diluting its concentration. Illness (vomiting and diarrhea) can also deplete sodium levels in the body.

This can lead to a potentially dangerous condition known as hyponatremia. With hyponatremia, the extreme loss of sodium can trigger symptoms ranging from muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness to shock, coma, and death. For a healthy person with moderate activity levels however, the foods we eat provide us with more than enough sodium to replace whatever we lost.

Reducing Salt intake… 

Give yourself up to eight weeks to undo a bad salt habit. Once you lose your taste for it, you’ll also find it a lot easier to taste when foods have too much salt in them.

Keep it Pure… 

If you do feel the need to add salt to your food, especially after excessive sweating or illness, keep it pure. The healthiest forms of sea salt are the least refined with no added preservatives. Pink Himalayan salt is touted as the ultimate mineral-rich seasoning, said to be the purest of the sea salt family. It also has small amounts of calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium, making it slightly lower in sodium than regular table salt.

So, how ‘salty’ should you get? Unless you are ill or a marathon runner or extreme athlete, you  should get enough salt (sodium) from your food. If you do feel you need some additional Sodium, extremely moderate use of a pure salt like Pink Himalayan salt is the best option.