Learn the benefits of including salt in your diet!
Despite what many believe, salt plays many important roles in our bodies and for our health. That being said, it's always best to opt for unrefined and unprocessed salt, such as Himalayan, Volcanic, Celtic or Sea salt. Unlike refined table salt (which has basically been stripped, bleached and mixed with iodine, anti-clumping agents and sometimes even sugar), unprocessed salt contains many trace minerals (including naturally occurring iodine) needed by the body for optimum function.
Why We Need Sodium
Salt, water and potassium are like three little amigos; they work in synergy and are all required to balance the water content of our bodies. Potassium works to hold water in our cells, while salt forces some water to stay outside of our cells, creating the balance our bodies need. When a cell is unable to freely uptake water (i.e. when we don't drink enough water), the water outside the cell, being held by salt, gets filtered and injected into the cell so it can continue to function. When one becomes chronically dehydrated, this injection of water becomes the primary uptake of water for cells in the body. Eventually, if this goes on long enough, the body will begin to retain a lot of water, resulting in what we know as hypertension. Diuretics and sodium reduction are often prescribed to treat hypertension, when really what the body needs is a gradual increase of water intake! Many other common health issues are also, in fact, signals of a lack of water intake rather than from an excess of sodium. Now, this isn't to say load up on the salt but rather to acknowledge that a diet devoid of salt can be just as detrimental as a diet devoid of any other essential nutrient. For optimal health, it is essential to maintain that water, sodium and potassium balance.
Salt is undoubtedly a hidden gem in terms of nutrition and health. It provides many other benefits than just regulating the water content in our bodies. Listed below are more health benefits of salt.
FOUR REASONS SALT IS BENEFICIAL FOR YOUR HEALTH
1. Stress Reduction
There's a reason we crave salty foods when we're stressed. It's the body's way of self-regulating as salt reduces the secretion of stress hormones. Salt is also needed for mood-regulating amino acids to get to the brain.
2. Mood Regulator
Salt is needed to maintain proper mood regulation and can be used as an aid for emotional disorders. Salt and water work together, flushing toxins from the body, yet sparing the essential amino acids needed by the body to manufacture serotonin and melatonin. In some cases, lithium is actually used in place of salt to treat emotional disorders. Go figure! So, why not add little unrefined salt?!
3. Reduces acidity
Salt is needed by the kidneys to flush out excess acidity through our urine. It is also required to remove acidity from all of our cells. Due to high amounts of acidity in the brain, a low sodium diet has actually been associated with the development of Alzheimer's disease!
4. Proper Muscle Tone
Salt is required for proper muscle tone. As we know, salt regulates the fluid content in our bodies. This is not only the case for our cells but our organs and muscles as well. A lack of salt can, in fact, cause dehydration and muscle cramping. Salt helps to keep not only the muscles we work out toned but also all of our other muscles that keep our bodies functioning, including our bladder muscles and heart!
Again, this is not to say we should be loading up on sodium but rather consuming it in moderation as part of a well-rounded diet. So, pass the salt, please!