Salt has long been used for flavouring and for preserving food. It has also been used in tanning, dyeing and bleaching, and the production of pottery, soap, and chlorine. Today, it is widely used in the chemical industry. Salt commonly features at the table or in the kitchen as free-flowing table salt, rock salt, sea salt, or kosher salt. High levels of salt, or sodium, come hidden in everyday foods ranging from fast food to frozen chicken.
The salt we eat today comes largely from the processed and convenience foods in our diet, but some natural and unprocessed foods also contain salt or sodium. It occurs naturally in meats, seafood, eggs, some vegetables, and dairy products. Recent studies show that salt has many benefits in the body, including increasing body water conservation and making you less thirsty. A balance of fluid and sodium is necessary for the health of the heart, liver, and kidneys. It regulates blood fluids and prevents low blood pressure. This means that your body can prioritise its salt levels, which has been shown to help manage metabolism in a positive way. Too little sodium can lead to hyponatremia, and symptoms of dizziness, confusion, muscle twitches and seizures. Here are five benefits of adding salt to our diet:
1. Helps you stay hydrated
To stay better hydrated, your body needs a delicate balance of sodium and potassium. This is because water in your body follows sodium, so if you have too much, your body will retain water. Potassium works to balance this out, which is why sea salt is much better than sodium chloride or table salt. Sea salt like Celtic or pink Himalayan, contains both sodium and potassium, which helps balance your body levels naturally.
2. Promotes good vascular health
When it comes to sea salt specifically, it actually has protective effects against heart disease. Again, it’s important to differentiate between sea salt and table salt, which is much less beneficial due it’s nonexistent mineral profile. Findings on how sea salt helps heart disease markers directly contradict the years of recommendations against salt in diets.
3. Balances electrolytes and prevents muscle cramping
Sea salt is an excellent source of electrolytes, which has been shown to prevent muscle cramping during exercise. Sea salt contains sodium, magnesium, potassium, and calcium, all of which you need for optimal health. These minerals must come from your diet because your body can’t create them. Without sufficient electrolytes you can experience irregular heartbeat, fatigue, nausea, and even seizures.
4. Supports a healthy nervous system
Sodium regulates water flow throughout your body, which is critical for a healthy nervous system. Additionally, the water of your nervous system requires salt for electrical conduction to send and receive nervous system signals. Just as with other functions of the body, your brain needs the right balance of sodium to other electrolytes, which is why sea salt is a much better option than table salt.
5. Improves sleep
When you read about salt and sleep, it initially appears there are mixed reports. But if you pay close attention, you’ll realise that the advice against eating salt before bed is referring to table salt and processed foods, which can cause an unbalanced amount of sodium in the body. Sea salt is thought to improve sleep because it contains so many helpful electrolytes for regulating hormones. It’s also important to make sure you get enough salt anytime you exercise because your body is sweating it out. For anyone who participates in high intensity sports or competition, they make salt tablets for better rehydration. Always choose a natural salt, and try to avoid the processed table salt variety.