July 31, 2006
Study after study in Europe now shows that the ingredients in
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month of August, Baseline Nutritionals is
giving away a FREE bottle of Jon's
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That's a savings of $49.95 per order.
And now Jon.
A Pillar of Salt
A couple of issues ago, I made a passing comment about the
public statement concerning salt, questioning both the
validity of their pronouncement and their qualifications to make
such a statement in the first place. What a furor it created!
Since then, I have been interviewed by several
newspapers, magazines, and appeared on radio talk shows --
all to talk about salt. Who knew it was such a big deal? But
since it is, it seems worthwhile to revisit the subject again in
The primary issue that got lost by the AMA is that not all
sources of sodium and salt are the same. As far as the body is
concerned, there is no connection between the
chemically-cleansed sodium chloride table salt you buy in the
supermarket (which is also added to virtually every processed
food you buy) and the mineral rich organic unrefined
sea salt available in health food stores. One can kill you; the
other heals you. In fact, it's essential for life.
Of course, everyone can agree that just like anything else,
salt or sodium should not be consumed in excess. (But then
again, that's true of water and oxygen as well.) Which brings us
back to why the AMA came out with a warning at all: Americans
are consuming ever higher amounts of sodium, up to 6,000
milligrams a day, instead of the recommended 500 to 2,000
milligrams per day. These high amounts, in a form that is
unfriendly to the human body and with no ancillary trace mineral
benefits, are what lead to serious health problems. However,
this is not necessarily the heart of the debate. The issue is
that the AMA is against all forms of salt, a broad-brush
condemnation designed more for media sound bites than to truly
advance the cause of health.
This is a point echoed in a U.S. Food and Drug Administration
A Pinch of Controversy Shakes Up Dietary Salt:
"Now modern technology has made salt readily available
and at a price almost anyone can afford. As a result, many
of us take salt and its merits for granted. But scientists
keep salt in the news by debating its role in a healthful
diet. At times, discussion and controversy threaten to
obscure salt's importance and to confuse thoughtful
So let's examine the true nature of salt to gain an
understanding of how different types of salt act in our bodies.
And let's also examine some real health issues
connected with salt; and finally, let's talk about how to choose
and balance salt in your diet.
Brief History of Humans and Salt
"Worth its weight in gold" is an expression that served well
for salt in ancient times.
The history of salt is sprinkled with piracy, war,
economics, religion, and health. In fact, the next time you
contemplate your current salary, consider that the very word
"salary" is derived from the Latin word sal because
Romans often received their pay in salt. If
this is hard to accept, consider that during the Age of
Discovery, Africans and European explorers traded an ounce of
salt for an ounce of gold -- even-steven. Around 110 BC, salt
trade was so valued that salt piracy was punishable by death.
And Mahatma Gandhi even used salt as major leverage against the
British Empire in 1930 when he led thousands of people to the
sea to collect their own salt in order to avoid the salt tax
imposed by the British.
The Importance of Salt
One point everyone can agree on is that the body
needs sodium chloride to function.
If we look at the big picture for a moment, we can recognize
- A human embryo develops in salty amniotic fluid.
- Our developed human bodies possess three distinct fluid
systems - blood plasma, lymphatic fluid, and extracellular
fluid -- all salty fluids.
- As a main component of the body's extra-cellular fluids,
salt helps carry nutrients into the cells. It also helps
regulate other body functions, such as blood pressure and
fluid volume, and works on the lining of blood vessels to
keep the pressure balance normal. The concentration of
sodium ions in the blood is directly related to the
regulation of safe body-fluid levels.
- 0.9% sodium chloride in water is
isotonic with blood plasma. It is known medically as
normal saline. It is the mainstay of fluid replacement
therapy that is widely used in medicine in prevention or
treatment of dehydration, or as an intravenous therapy to
hypovolemic shock due to blood loss.
- The propagation of nerve impulses by
signal transduction is regulated by sodium ions.
(Potassium, another metal closely related to sodium, is also
a major component in the same body systems).
- Sodium is an energy carrier. It is also responsible for
sending messages from the brain to muscles through the
nervous system so that muscles move on command. When you
want to move your arm or any muscle in the body, the brain
sends a message to a sodium molecule that passes it to a
potassium molecule and then back to a sodium molecule etc.,
etc., until it gets to its final destination and the muscle
moves. This is known as the sodium-potassium ion exchange.
Therefore, without sodium, you would never be able to move
one muscle of your body.
Salt VS Sodium
Although the words salt and sodium are often used
interchangeably when it comes to nutrition, they are not the
same. Salt is sodium chloride (NaCl) and Sodium (Na) is, well,
just sodium -- a soft metal occurring in isolation only on the
periodic table of elements or in a lab.
While it is correct to say that our bodies need sodium,
nature has not designed sodium as a solo player but offers it in
a complex consisting of natural salt and essential trace
minerals, as well as providing it in a variety of foods. Some
foods naturally high in sodium/salt are fish, eggs, nuts,
prawns, crabs, lobsters and seaweed (Note: all of these natural
sources of salt are also natural sources of iodine.) Other
naturally occurring sources of sodium (although not quite as
high) are celery, carrots, cauliflower, pineapples, jackfruits,
and even fresh cow's milk. And then, of course, there is pure,
natural unrefined salt -- the salt once worth it's weight in
gold and the focus of this newsletter.
So, with all these great natural sources of sodium, why do we
have refined table salt?
A Modern Misconception
Much like the story of refined flour it seems to come down to
aesthetics and economics.
- Unrefined salt tends to be off-white or gray in color,
whereas refined table salt is bright white. It's prettier.
- Unrefined table salt tends to clump in the presence of
moisture and be unusable in shakers. As for table salt,
what's the slogan for Morton® Salt? "When it rains, it
- Since unrefined table salt tends to clump in the
presence of moisture, grocers and suppliers have to eat the
cost of salt that has to be pulled from shelves when it
becomes unsellable. Not so with refined salt that doesn't
clump. In other words, refined salt is more profitable.
- Refined table salt has added iodine to make up for the
nutrients lost in refining.
As a point of comparison, here's the story of white flour.
- White flour is "prettier" than brown flour,
aesthetically more appealing.
- White flour bakes lighter in texture because it has no
- White flour doesn't spoil because all the beneficial
oils have been removed, which means it lasts far longer on
the grocer's shelf than whole wheat flour. Again,
economically more profitable.
- White flour is "enriched" to put back a small amount of
the nutrients lost in refining.
- And white flour products are now getting added fiber
(sawdust in some cases) and essential fatty acids to improve
their nutritional profile.
Salt and flour have suffered the same fate. The process of
turning naturally occurring non-white salt into the
white-powdery-easily poured table salt involves a distinct
trade-off between health and aesthetics/profitability.
And there's one other financial reason for the dominance of
refined salt in the market. Only 7% of salt goes for food; the
other 93% goes to industry. Industry requires chemically pure
sodium chloride for manufacture of explosives, chlorine gas,
soda, fertilizers and plastics. In effect, table salt represents
a "cheap" production overrun.
In today's market, we now have two distinct choices when it
comes to salt: unrefined and refined. Unrefined salt
(sea salt) is 84% sodium chloride and 16% other minerals.
Refined salt is 97.5% sodium chloride and
approximately 2.5% chemical additives.
Unrefined salt is at heart sea salt, but can
come from two sources: either freshly dried from the sea, as in
Celtic Sea Salt, or mined from ancient inland ocean beds as in
Himalayan Salt. In either case, the salt is a naturally
occurring complex of sodium chloride, major minerals such as
calcium and magnesium, and a complete complement of essential
trace minerals. This is the form of salt the body recognizes and
is designed to use.
Note: much of the salt labeled "sea salt" is actually
refined table salt unless the package is clearly labeled
"unrefined." (This is also true for Kosher
Refined salt, on the other hand, is a
manmade creation of the last century that contains anti-caking
chemicals (with very important health consequences as we shall
see in a minute) and added iodine. Iodine was added for people
who lived inland and at one time did not benefit from natural
iodine found in seafood. Truth be told, all refined table salt
is actually sea salt at heart, either refined from the sea
(brine sourced) or found in salt mines created by ancient seabed
deposits known as halite. Refined salt is
processed at high temperatures altering the molecular
structure of the salt (not good) and removing the beneficial
trace minerals. The human body doesn't like it.
Refined and unrefined salt act and
react differently in our bodies.
Unrefined sea salt
- Natural salt is a prime condiment that stimulates
salivation and helps to balance and replenish all of the
- The natural iodine in these salts protects against
radiation, atomic fallout, and many other pollutants.
- Unrefined sea salt supplies all 92 vital trace minerals,
thereby promoting optimum biological function and cellular
- Here is a partial list of the minerals found in
unrefined salt and their function in human metabolism:
- Sodium: Essential to digestion
and metabolism, regulates body fluids, nerve and
- Chlorine: Essential component
of human body fluids.
- Calcium: Needed for bone
- Magnesium: Dissipates sodium
excess, forms and hardens bones, ensures mental
development and sharpens intelligence, promotes
assimilation of carbohydrates, assures metabolism of
vitamin C and calcium, retards the aging process and
dissolves kidney stones.
- Sulfur: Controls energy
transfer in tissue, bone and cartilage cells,
essential for protein compounds.
- Silicon: Needed in carbon
metabolism and for skin and hair balance.
- Iodine: Vital for energy
production and mental development, ensures
production of thyroid hormones, needed for strong
auto-defense mechanism (lymphatic system).
- Bromine: In magnesium bromide
form, a nervous system regulator and restorer, vital
for pituitary hormonal function.
- Phosphorus: Essential for
biochemical synthesis and nerve cell functions
related to the brain, constituent of
phosphoproteins, nucleoproteins and phospholipids.
- Vanadium: Of greater value for
tooth bone calcification than fluoride, tones
cardiac and nervous systems, reduces cholesterol,
regulates phospholipids in blood, and a catalyst for
the oxidation of many biological substances.
Refined table salt
- Inorganic sodium chloride upsets your fluid balance and
constantly overburdens your elimination systems, which can
impair your health.
- When your body tries to isolate the overdose of refined
salt you typically expose it to, water molecules must
surround the sodium chloride molecules to break them up into
sodium and chloride ions in order to help your body
neutralize them. To accomplish this, water is taken from
your cells, and you have to sacrifice the water stored in
your cells in order to neutralize the unnatural sodium
- This results in dehydrated cells that die
- Refined table salt contains added iodine, which may
indeed have helped eliminate the incidence of endemic
goiter, but has conversely increased the incidence of
- Refined table salt lacks all trace minerals.
- Refined salt contains anticaking agents such as
ferrocyanide, yellow prussiate of soda, tricalcium
phosphate, alumine-calcium silicate, sodium aluminosilicate.
All work by preventing the salt from mixing with water, both
inside the box and inside the human body. This
prevents the salt from doing one of its important functions
in the organism: regulating hydration.
The problem of excess salt in the diet
Salt and Water
- Fish survive by excreting large amounts of salt through
their gills. Humans excrete salt through their
kidneys. But there is only so much salt that can be
urinated away, and salt-sensitive individuals excrete less
sodium than normal.
- If the body can't reduce the salt, the next best way to
hit the right level is to increase the amount of water. This
causes the body's extremities to swell up.
- If you're not drinking enough water, the body finds the
extra water it needs by robbing its own cells. In extreme
cases, neurons shrink and begin to stretch; brain and spinal
membranes may begin hemorrhaging. The brain shrinks. Too
high a concentration of salt in the body can lead to
irritability, muscle twitching, seizures, brain damage,
coma, and sometimes death. Usually, though, the results
aren't quite so drastic.
- Dr. Myron Weinberger, an Indiana University medical
school professor who authored the salt sensitivity
study, says that given the "horrendous excess of salt
that we end up with every day," some individuals can't
get rid of it all, especially those born with subtle
kidney problems that may go undiagnosed. Part of the
problem is the chemical attraction between sodium and
- High levels of sodium in the diet combined with low
water consumption leads to hypertension. "Every grain of
salt that is retained in the body carries with it 20
times its weight in water which increases the (amount
of) fluid in circulation," Weinberger said. "If you
think of the blood vessels as piping, as you push more
fluid in them, then the pressure goes up."
Choosing and balancing salt in your diet.
Unfortunately, you can't rely on fruits and vegetables any
more for your trace minerals: they just don't contain them. Even
organic fruits and vegetables are largely deficient, unless the
grower goes to the extra expense of remineralizing the soil. In
the end, you have to supplement either with unrefined sea salt
or with a trace mineral supplement. Of course, we can all agree
on one thing: a healthy diet is a diet in moderation.
Unfortunately, refined salt addiction is perhaps as
prevalent and subtly dangerous in modern society as drug
addiction, poor diet, and a sedentary lifestyle. Excess refined
salt increases appetite and
decreases bone density. Hmmm!
The bottom line is unrefined natural sea salt is as essential
to life as oxygen, water, vitamins, proteins and essential fats
-- in conscious moderation of course. The health benefits of
unrefined salt must not be overlooked based on an
overgeneralization in salt guidelines.
In that light, I recommend:
- Use unrefined sea salt (Celtic, Himalayan, etc.) instead
of refined table salt.
- Use it in moderation.
- Read labels and back way down on sodium in packaged
- Minimize fast food consumption since most fast food is
off the charts when it comes to sodium.
- Avoid salt-based household soft-water systems. They can
significantly increase the sodium levels in your body.
- Hydrate sufficiently (but not to excess).
- Keep your kidneys functioning properly. Twice a year
(more often if you have kidney problems) use a bottle of
chanca piedra or a kidney flush formula.
# # #
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