“Salt is the only rock directly consumed by man. It corrodes but preserves, desiccates but is wrested from the water. It has fascinated man for thousands of years not only as a substance he prized and was willing to labour to obtain, but also as a generator of poetic and of mythic meaning. The contradictions it embodies only intensify its power and its links with experience of the sacred.”
Margaret Visser, 20th century author
In the Paleolithic age animals went in search of salt licks followed by humans who established their settlements near the salt licks which later on grew to cities and countries, For thousands of years salt has maintained high level of value in human history and was the first International commodity to be traded $$. Salt has played an important role in shaping the economies and politics of the world. The Indian Independence movement gained momentum through Salt Satyagraha!! (When tax on salt was laid and the protest against it). After being so important, in the recent years salt has taken the blame of being a culprit to human’s health.
There has been a lot of debate on how much salt has to be consumed and the outcome of a lot of research says 1500 mg of salt per day per person to replace the amount lost daily on an average through urination and sweat.The components that make up salt are sodium and chloride and sodium is a vital nutrient. It is the major component of extra-cellular fluid like blood and lymph. It is an extra-cellular cation which helps in cellular metabolism and tissue perfusion. It maintains the plasma levels which is important for normal cardiovascular functions. Sodium and chloride ions also play an important role in nerve transmissions. They help the neuron to transmit information in the nervous system as well as in mechanical movements.Chloride ions also help in secretion of gastric juice HCl which is vital for digestion of food and restricting food pathogens activity.The other important functions include
- Easy and active absorption of other nutrients in the small intestines.
- Maintains electrolyte balance.
- Key to hydration during exercise and outside activities.
- Combats hyperthermia.
- Increasing salt intake can combat chronic fatigue syndrome.
- Helps regulate the water levels in cells, nutrient levels, and waste matter.
- It is also a very good anti-biotic.
- It is a preservative
- A good binder
- A coloring agent
- Slows and controls fermentation process
When true sodium deficiency occurs it leads to brain swelling, coma, heart failure, acute blood loss. Craving for salt increases when sodium deficiency occurs and we tend to consume more salt to maintain the homeostasis even without our knowledge. A low sodium diet should definitely be recommended with a high potassium rich fruits and vegetables. However our intake of potassium levels are significantly low and hence the imbalance is not only due to high salt intake but also due to low potassium intake. The sodium potassium ratio plays an important role in development of diseases typically related to excessive salt intake alone.
In India we use 2 major types of salt apart from the table salt in our diet and each of these has its own goodness.
1.The ROCK SALT mined from the underground deposits of dried lakes, it is non refined and non iodized.Rock salt benefits the heart, is good for diabetics, prevents osteoporosis, reduces depression and stress, prevents and treats muscle cramps, numbness and tingling sensations, regulates blood pressure, keeps the blood vessels flexible, maintains the correct acid-alkaline levels, helps in digestion, relieves a number of skin problems, benefits in relieving arthritic problems etc.
2. The BLACK SALT is mined from natural salt mines. It has iron and a lot of trace minerals which we otherwise dont get from our diets. Black salt is low in sodium. It is used to treat health issues like indigestion, constipation, bloating, gas, flatulence and heartburn. It is also used to treat goiter and hysteria, poor vision, high blood pressure, anemia,. It ensures proper sodium/phosphorus balance.
So then who really needs to reduce salt?
- People with hypertension should reduce salt intake but not below the recommended levels and increase potassium intake.
- People who have kidney stones as high sodium excretion leads to high calcium excretion leading to calcium deposition in kidneys
- Men who are overweight.
REDUCING SALT DOESN’T REDUCE YOUR RISK OF DISEASES!
Ultimately the idea of reduction of salt alone will not solve the issues related to heart, kidneys and body fluids. The other ions like chloride, potassium, magnesium and calcium also play an equally important role in keeping us healthy. Hence depending on the body condition, individual needs and genetic predisposition the amount of salt and other ions consumption have to be decided.Salt intake for those with cardiovascular disorders and renal disorders are also inconclusive and diets that include high potassium, calcium and magnesium might not have the same effect of high salt intake. Before deciding to reduce your salt intake do consider these factors. As always a balanced diet with optimum inclusion of spices is definitely a better way to stay healthy.
PS: Thank you for all the valuable feedbacks and also a list of topics.
For My readers: Have you found any changes by reducing/increasing salt intake?