Myths About the Detriments of Salt

18 May 2013

If you have been paying attention to the media for the past few years, there is a good chance that you have heard about new initiatives being discussed by the government aimed at reducing our salt intake. Someone hearing this rhetoric would, understandably, start to think that salt is a bad or dangerous substance. Before we speak frankly about the effects of salt in the body, let’s briefly look at its history.

Prior to refrigeration and other methods of food preservation, salt was the main way foods were kept from spoiling. It was so revered by the ancients that it was called “the gift from the gods.” In fact Homer referred to salt as a “divine substance” and Plato described it as “dear to the gods.” Also, the Celtic word for salt meant “holy” or “sacred”. Salt was so sought after in ancient times that massive trade routes were established precisely for its acquisition. It was so valuable that Roman Soldiers were partly paid in salt, hence the word “salary”. The Himalayan crystal salt mines were said to be discovered around 330 BC by Alexander The Great.

Now, just because salt was so loved in ancient times does not necessarily mean it is good for us. Yet, another interesting fact is that the Japanese have one of the highest salt intakes of the world yet they are famously know for another trait – they have one of the longest life expectancy rates. So what do we do in light of this conflicting information? Many in the government lead us to believe that salt is a harmful substance, yet many studies show (i.e. the Japanese example) that significant salt intake is not necessarily related to deleterious health effects. In fact, according to science, salt has many positive effects on the body. Let’s look at some.

Salt is essential for life, we simply cannot live without it. Salt is essential in regulating and maintaining blood pressure. Salt is also vital to our nervous system. Chloride is necessary for the growth of our brain and proper neurological function. Sodium activates an enzyme that is necessary for the formation of glial cells that allow us to think creatively and enable us to engage in long-term planning. Salt is also necessary for proper metabolism and digestion. Salt is also crucial for our adrenal glands that produce important hormones in our bodies.

There is, however, a significant difference in the types of salt. Natural salts, like Himalayan Crystal Salt are much more beneficial to the body than the processed table salts that we are accustomed to buying in the supermarket. What is the difference between typical synthetic processed salt and natural salts like Himalayan Crystal Salt? See our article Benefits of Himalayan Salt.