We’re looking at taste, we’ve already evaluated bitter, now we’ll look at something a little more common- SALT. Again the government food advisors baffle me, with a cry to decrease salt intake in the country (tangent: how many times do we need to demonize healthy things (coconut oil, red meat, cholesterol, saturated fat, etc) before we start promoting prevention of this nations true killer= chronic inflammation). Your body NEEDS salt, why else would it be one of your tastes and why food would taste better with it then (Oy!). If your body doesn’t get enough salt what happens? The body compensates by reducing its secretion of salt in urine and sweat. This leads to desiccation and eventually death. That’s right you’ll DIE of thirst. Still think the advice for a salt-free diet or reduced salt diet is smart (I’m not even going to answer this is so blindingly obvious)? Let’s take a little history lesson in. Our ancestors actually consumed 10 times as much salt as we do today. Before the modern use of refrigerators, salt was used to preserve meat. To early peoples it was considered a gift of the gods (Homer called it the ‘divine substance’). Hell the Celtic word for salt is holy or sacred! Major trade routes around the world, were built in quest of salt. Look at where there were major salt deposits, and you’ll find where civilizations developed (before that hunter-gatherers acquired salt through the urine or blood of the animals they killed because the animals would intake salt through the plants they ate). Roman soldiers were actually paid partly with salt and the word salary comes from the Latin word for salt. Pretty impressive pedigree, right? So there has to be something good going on here? What salt does?
- Provides 2 essential minerals: sodium and chloride
- Sodium controls fluid volume, maintains blood pressure, is important for nerve conduction, passage of nutrients, maintain acid-base levels
- Chloride: maintains blood pressure, blood volume and pH
- Important role in neuron firing
- Is key for digestion (carb digestion and breakdown and transport require enzymes dependent upon sodium)
- Chloride is important for hydrochloric acid and thus protein digestion
- Development glial cells in the brain (creative thinking and long-term planning)
- Sodium is a part of bile manufacturing that allows for fat emulsification
- Hormone production and therefore metabolism, mineral metabolism, blood pressure regulation, glucose levels, healing, stress response. Salt cravings are actually a sign of poor adrenal function.
- Sodium is involved in muscle contraction (heartbeat, nerve impulses and digestion of protein as well)
- Water balance
- Nerve conduction
- Potassium absorption
- Enhances the ability of blood to carry carbon dioxide from respiring tissues to the lungs
You think we would know better! A study in 1936 put three people on salt free diets and sweating. Even though they lost weight, they looked ill. Their sense of taste and smell were affected, drinking water didn’t keep them from feeling thirsty, 2 out of the3 had trouble with nightmares, frequent cramps, difficulty speaking, and dulled mental capacity. Upon restoring salt intake the symptoms ceased. Newer research, in 2010 a study by the Journal of American Medical Association showed that a modest decrease in salt was associated with increased cardiovascular disease, and concluded it was also associated with increased mortality. Despite these studies and knowledge of the benefits of salt in 2010 the US set out new guidelines that called for a decrease intake of salt. And surprisingly the food company agreed. Well the timing couldn’t be more perfect with the new salt substitute, senomyx coming out. We can only predict the problems this could cause. What happens when food we eat tastes salt, but don’t actually satisfy our salt requirement? I would guess more consumption in a vain attempt to satisfy this need. More food=more weight=more of a problem. Not all salt is created equally, however. Look for unrefined sea salts (I like salts from Selina Naturally). Again like grass-fed meat and good olive oil, you’re going to have to pay out more now (but like I’ve pointed out before I’d rather pay more now than more in health care and my own well-being later.) Another instance of why not to listen to government when it comes to your food and health. For more on our fat-burner weight loss articles check out our website at bodychange.net.