Gone may be the days when salt was the devil that led to high blood pressure, or so says an editorial by Dr. Suzanne Oparil, M.D. published earlier this month in the New England Journal of Medicine (August 14, 2014). Oparil reveals that, although there is still a strong connection between sodium intake and high blood pressure, recent studies show that increased levels of sodium do not seem to negatively impact those with healthy blood pressure levels.
Instead, some of the research suggested that increasing sodium intake from the federally recommended daily amount of 1500 mg. Individuals who consumed 3000-6000 mg a day (the average amount consumed by an American) were found to be less at risk of heart disease and cardiovascular events than those eating lower amounts. Why?
Here are a few critical factoids to bolster your salt know-how:
- Not All Salts Are Created Equal: Surprise! There’s a huge difference between refined, chemically processed and bleached table salt and the mineral-rich salt that naturally occurs in the earth’s oceans. Table salts are robbed of the essential and trace minerals that support the heart, kidneys, digestive system, muscles, and other organs thrive. Instead, they are reduced to sodium and chloride, as well as a host of other additives and chemicals. The body seeks to excrete these chemicals as quickly as possible.Yet salts that are unprocessed, like Himalayan sea salt, can actually heal rather than harm. They deliver vital doses of minerals and help balance the body’s pH as well as aid in the transfer of fluid into and out of cells. Look for unprocessed, unrefined sea salts the next time you’re at the grocery store!
- Sodium Deficiency Can Be Dangerous: Salt is found throughout the entire body, permeating cell walls and helping to regulate the body’s many natural processes. The minerals found in healthy salts (including sodium and potassium) balance pH levels, aid in muscle contraction, and help prevent dehydration. If your body isn’t getting enough sodium, its natural processes, ranging from hydration to pH level to muscle contraction (that includes your heartbeat!) could be disturbed.
- Salt Aids Digestion: The mineral-rich salt described above can also support your digestive system from the moment it enters your mouth. This begins with its capacity to activate an enzyme called salivary amylase, which stimulates taste and the breakdown of food. Once in the stomach, chloride encourages the production of hydrochloric acid, our primary digestive enzyme.
Finally, the minerals in salt help the body to absorb vital nutrients in the digestive process. Sodium cues transporter proteins to help shuttle nutrients from the digestive tract through various cell walls, making sure the body gets the nutritive building blocks it needs to thrive.
So while you may want to keep a tighter reign on your sodium intake if your blood pressure is dangerously high (and always consult your physician before making any dietary changes) remember that the kind of salt you ingest matters as much, if not more, as how much you eat. Learn more about the nutrient intake that’s right for you by taking advantage of the last few days of ph360’s Lifetime Membership sale!