Salt – more than just a four letter word

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Salt. However you refer to it. Salt, Sodium Chloride, NaCl. It's one of the most abundant minerals on earth. Needed by plants and animals alike, it is one of the 4 vital elements for life. In spite of this fact it is also very misunderstood.

Salt is an essential element of the diet and has innumerable uses including medical and industrial. Interestingly only 6% of salt manufactured world wide is for food related use.

The body comprises 82% salt water. We spend our first 9 months of life swimming in a saline solution (amniotic fluid). We need salt to maintain good health because without it our bodies become chemically unbalanced. The muscles and nervous system cease to function.

If you think about it all our body fluids are salty - blood, sweat, tears, saliva, reproductive fluids. The body uses salt to transfer chemical information from one liquid to another. Remember osmosis anyone?

Table salt is derived from sea or rock salt. By a process of evaporation the first crystals that form are 30% sodium and 50% chloride. This is because these minerals are the biggest constituents of salt. These deposits  are collected and bleached and then processed with aluminium as an anti-caking agent.

There are many different types of salt: Rock salt, Fleur de Sel, Sel de Guérande, Himalayan Salt, Kosher Salt, Sel Gris. The list goes on.

Sea salt contains a natural source of sodium and it is one that our bodies recognise. Sea water contains 92 minerals and is considered to be an isotonic solution. Isotonic simply means that the solution  has the same osmotic pressure and contains the same mineral balance as that found in the blood. Sea salt contains 82 minerals so it's as close to sea water as we are going to get. Compare that to table salt which contains only 2 minerals and it becomes easier to understand why table salt is not a good addition to the diet. Sodium chloride is a harsh poison and can kill.

Sea salt or natural salt, on the other hand, contains a wealth of information for the body and it is the key to getting hydrated at a cellular level.

Magnesium is one of the most common mineral deficiencies and  is available in sea salt. Magnesium is hungry for water and will drive water in to the cells  It has an effect on over 300 chemical reactions in the body including maintaining heart health, enabling enzyme activity, maintaining energy levels and creating new cells and proteins.

Saltiness is also one of the 5 flavours. Salt amplifies sweet, sour and umami flavours and it also does something extraordinary to  bitter flavours. Try this simple test at home. Squeeze a lemon and divide the juice into 2 glasses. To 1 glass add a pinch of sea salt, now taste the two and notice the difference. The one with the sea salt  tastes more mellow and has an underlying sweetness.

Digestion too is affected by our intake of salt. We simply can't digest effectively without adequate levels of salt. If we can't digest our food properly we can't get enough energy.  The next time you feel tired  and low on energy try this quick energy booster. Put a grain of sea salt on your tongue and allow it to dissolve. Don't worry, the magnesium in it will draw water from the saliva and it will soon dissolve. Then drink a glass of water and see how quickly your energy levels pick up. The magnesium will deliver the water to your cells in super quick time for the ultimate hydration. Try this little trick 2-3 times a day and notice the difference in your energy levels.

Written by: Mimi

The views expressed above are my own and are not intended as medical advice. Please feel free to carry out your own research.

 

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