But probably the easiest way to make a huge difference to your health is to change the type of salt you use at home.
Before you click away in disbelief, consider that there are different qualities of salt, exactly as there are different qualities of vitamins: synthetic and natural. Sodium chloride (NaCl), or common table salt, is nothing like rock salt or sea salt: It is a dangerous chemical stripped off all its good minerals and nutrients.
Consider also that animals in nature (e.g. elephants) travel long distances to find salt. And in hot countries salt tablets are sometimes needed, together with water, to hydrate people, due to the minerals lost when sweating.
I first started using salt as a supplement when I read in a book regarding adrenal fatigue that salt water may help with feelings of weakness associated with sluggish adrenal glands. I take a sprinkle of pink himalayan salt at times when I am feeling weak and it seems to help to some degree with what I now know are low blood sugar symptoms (and probably linked to the sluggish adrenal glands I am working on). Just this morning I started feeling weak because I hadn't eaten breakfast - achy arms and tired - and a teaspoon of natural salt in water seemed to fix it, before eating any food.
SFGate.com, Healthy Eating -section summarizes Dr. Barbara Hendel's research, published in "Water and Salt, The Essence of Life":
"Pure sea salt contains approximately 80 essential elements and minerals in their natural ratio that are essential for maintaining a healthy balance of electrolytes [sodium, potassium, chloride, bicarbonate, etc.] in the body. This balance bolsters transmission of information between the brain and nerve cells, which influences heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension, among other functions. Also, sea salt helps the kidneys get rid of excess acidity from body fluids while at the same time helping to regulate blood sugar levels."
... Sounds like something I definitely should be eating... heart rate, muscle tension, overactive nervous system, kidneys, blood sugar levels.... these are exactly the issues I am currently having to address to improve my own health, and which I have written more about in my recent health trials.
David Wolfe uses a pinch of sea salt in a glass of water. In a You Tube video entitled 'David Wolfe - Importance of Salt' he recommends not drinking sea water because it has bromine in it, but taking natural salts, such as sea or rock salts, as the bromine has evaporated out of these.
A website called Karensnaturalmarket.com has the following to say regarding David Wolfe's take on salt:
"Nutrition expert, David Wolfe was able to rid himself of food and pollen allergies when he discovered a correlation between hydration and having the right kind of salt. He calls it the salt switch: using sea salt instead of table salt. 'I started drinking salt water whenever I felt a little bit of my allergies coming back [...] and all of a sudden it would go away."
In the Finnish health magazine, "Natural Health" (Luontaisterveys), nutritionist Hannu Kantola explains that it is possible to be salt deficient, even if you have too much sodium chloride (table salt) in your body. He believes that without good quality water and good quality salt maintaining good health is impossible, as these two form the very basis of a healthy body.
"If we drink too little water, our cells dry out and die", Kantola explains, and Barbara Wren agrees. And by water Kantola means clean water, not coffee, orange juice, cola drink or beer...
According to him, in what he calls "crystal salt" - i.e. rock salt derived from the inside of mountains - the structure of the salt has become been pressurized into a very fine colloidal form over millions of years. This kind of salt, Kantola says, has a negative charge [?], whereas human cells are positively charged [?] and as a result the minerals of the salt can be easily absorbed into human cells. He explains that rock salt can balance the body's potentially unhealthy resonance frequency and it can bring the fluids of the body into a correct balance as well.
Note that according to my research in this article the interior of a healthy cell is meant to have a negative charge: Cell Membrane Permeability. The membrane of the cell, however, tends to accumulate sodium ions, which gives it a positive charge. But if sodium ions are positively charged, how come rock salt which is also sodium is negatively charged? This seems complicated to understand.
Hannu Kantola recommends Berechtesgarden's mineral baths in Germany for people with specific health complaints. In this context he refers to Peter Ferreira's vast research on mountain-derived crystal salts. In Berechtesgarden a research study with 400 people found that they were able to heal lung diseases, liver diseases, nervous system -related disorders, high and low blood pressure and yeast syndromes. One of the key elements of their treatment is a salt water drink. Kantola explains that one can use the salt water cure at home by taking 1-2 teaspoons per day of natural salts, to help with chronic fatigue, for disease prevention and for general mental benefits. Kantola also recommends Amann Bullman's clinic in Dortmund and Dr. Martin Stoppler's clinic in Bad Reichenhall, both in Germany.
Table salt is really sodium chloride, which is salt that has been stripped out of all its nutrients. The end result is a chemical, 90% of which is used for industrial purposes. The left overs, I guess, are marketed for consumers and used as preservatives for industrial foods. In addition, Kantola explains, this kind of salt is typically coated with aluminium-hydroxide - a heavy metal - in order to stop it clumping.
"Your kidneys can filter out approximately 5-7 grams of sodium chloride per day but these days we get more sodium chloride than our bodies can handle. The body tries to protect itself against the excess amount by drying out. For each gram of sodium chloride the body needs 23grams (0.23dl) of clean water. In other words 23-fold amount of water is needed to achieve a neutral state. If the body does not receive this, it sacrifices cell fluids, so that sodium chloride could not negatively affect the fluid. In this situation the cells die.
"Next, there will be useless tissue left, which is a perfect container for all the trash and toxins that we have received with our food. And in the end, the body will not be able to sacrifice enough cell fluids anymore.
"If 35 grams of sodium chloride is a deadly dose, the body will crystallize the surplus salt into the bones. Animal-derived amino acids will now be combined with sodium chloride to form uric acid crystals and diseases, which are called rheumatism and wear. These are layers of substances that do not belong into our bodies."
- Kantola in Luontaisterveys -magazine
The types of salt that Hannu Kantola recommends as safe to use are crystal salt, Himalayan salt and dark, completely unprocessed sea salt.
"Tom Brewer [...] explained that sodium [i.e. salt], in association with serum albumin, is essential for maintaining blood volume. Without adequate sodium, the serum albumin is unable to keep water from leaving the blood and entering the tissues. The tissues swell as the volume of blood is reduced."
- Ray Peat in "Salt, Energy, Metabolic Rate and Longevity"
Less blood volume, in turn, causes less blood to circulate in the kidneys. The kidneys respond to the challenge by stimulating renin production. Renin speeds up blood circulation and has been linked to hypertension (high blood pressure), kidney disease and heart problems, as explained by Dr. Peat in the above article. Also, the reduced blood volume caused by a sodium deficiency can carry less oxygen to the cells.
Salt restriction, as unfortunately advised by many doctors, is linked to sympathetic nervous system activity increase, to excess serotonin and accumulation of clots, as well as prostate and breast cancer, Peat explains.
Salt restriction causes an increase in adrenaline production and thus an increase in sympathetic nervous system activity, according to Ray Peat. These are both typical signs of aging, as is the general "drying out" of the body. The over-activity of the sympathetic nervous system also cause stiff blood vessels, another sign of aging.
"Many old people have noticed that a low sodium diet disturbs their sleep, and that eating their usual amount of salt restores their ability to sleep." - Ray Peat
When the sympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system is activated, adrenaline is produced. This activation generally increases with age and this increase contributes to insulin resistance, the degeneration of brain function. Salt deficiency can also cause stiff blood vessels and related hypertension, Ray Peat continues, as well as estrogen toxicity (excess estrogen) and progesterone deficiency. He also links protein deficiency to these same hormonal imbalances, via decreased thyroid function.
Ray Peat also writes that salt restriction increases serotonin, which he sees as a bad thing, unusually (serotonin being generally known as the 'happy hormone').
Ray Peat counters the theory that increased metabolism wears the body down and opines that intensified mitochondrial respiration (cell breathing) decreases cellular damage and supports a longer life span. He quotes studies where animals and organisms with a higher metabolic rate lived longer. In this way he makes the case for the importance of sodium for longer life.
Peat also explains that another effect of good sodium levels is an increased production of carbon dioxide, which is needed in the cell to remove calcium and sodium from inside it. I wonder whether excess calcium in the cell due to not enough carbon dioxide could be linked to calcification (stiffening) of the body generally? Too much calcium in the cell, according to Peat, prevents the relaxation of muscles and nerve cells and ultimately kills the cells.
Dr. Lawrence Wilson proposes a theory where biounavailable calcium stuck in the cells is an indicator of slow oxidation and slow metabolism. An elevated calcium level in my hair mineral analysis report was seen as an indicator of this.
"The sodium, by increasing carbon dioxide production, protects against the excitatory, toxic effects of intracellular calcium." - Ray Peat
Increased sodium has been claimed to improve immunity, alleviate inflammation, reduce vascular leakiness and help with weight loss.
"A slight decrease in temperature can promote inflammation [...]. The thermogenic [heat generating] substances - dietary protein, sodium, sucrose, thyroid and progesterone - are anti-inflammatory for many reasons, but very likely the increased temperature itself is important.
"A poor reaction to stress, with increased cortisol, can raise the body temperature by accelerating the break-down and resynthesis of proteins, but adaptive resistance to stress increases the temperature by increasing the consumption of oxygen and fuel." - Ray Peat
In other words, protein, sodium, sucrose, thyroid and progesterone raise body temperature by increasing oxygen use by the body and this higher body temperature is beneficial to fighting and preventing inflammation. The stress-hormone cortisol raises body temperature as well, but in a different way, without the benefits of oxygen.
When mitochondrial respiration is suppressed, in other words when the cell's oxygen consumption (breathing) is suppressed, abdominal fat increases, along with calcium and fatty acids circulating in the blood. Decreasing sodium, or increasing calcium, causes the body's metabolism to shift away from thermogenesis and accelerated respiration (the body temperature lowers and oxygen utilization reduces). More on this here.
Ray Peat explains that cortisol, the stress hormone, suppresses cell breathing probably by increasing calcium in the cell, and thus by blocking the thermogenic (heat-generating) effects of sodium.
As a result of this research, I started to take 1-2 teaspoons of pink Himalayan salt in water every day so as to experience the anti-stress, hormone balancing and enhanced oxygen (and thus energy) benefits of natural sodium. As a result my metabolic rate showed improvement in the hair mineral analysis, the adrenal gland function was improved, and I felt that it helped to calm anxiety and sometime reduce low blood sugar symptoms. I had previously been shown to be sodium deficient in the hair mineral analysis test so I am not sure if everyone else would experience the same benefits.
I think I was taking too much salt, however, because at points I still got dehydrated, and thought that the salt might be what caused it. It is possible that the cause was something else, however. Sometimes it seemed like I would get puffy eyes (fluid retention) the next morning from eating salt.
Later Christine Meehan, my new hair mineral analysis nutritionist recommended that if I were to take natural salt I should limit it to 1/4-1/2 teaspoons per day. This seems like a reasonable approach.
Ray Peat: "Salt, Energy, Metabolic Rate and Longevity":
Adrenal Insufficiency/ Adrenal Fatigue/ Burnout
Alkaline/ Acid Foods - Clearing Confusion
Discusses our electrical bodies and how negative ions, alkalinity and anti-oxidants are closely linked.
Live Spring Water Benefits
Extreme claims about the benefits of live spring water.
Grounding/ Earthing - Testimonial
Why and how grounding is important for your body's electrical balance: "Most people, even in this scientific age, are completely unaware of their bio-electrical nature..."
Cell Membrane Permeability - about cell respiration, metabolic (oxidation) rate, my hair mineral analysis results, tissue sodium levels, and the 'intelligence' of the cell membrane.
Note that Dr. James Wilson recommends natural salt in his book 'Adrenal Fatigue - The 21st Century Stress Syndrome' to help strengthen the adrenal glands.
Ulla is the Editor of Cheap Health Revolution, covering natural remedies and health solutions.