The prevailing medical and political opinion on salt, and the story of what went wrong with this historically precious commodity mirrors our country’s love hate relationship with fat. Salt was once a trade good that was worth more than gold, and for good reason. Unfortunately, just like with fat, salt became over processed and under recommended.
The public health initiative to iodize salt was a great success in that it cured the “Goiter Belt,” but it left our country with questionable table salt.
The processing of salt in our country now goes like this:
Iodize it. But iodine is purple. And people don’t want purple salt.
Bleach it. But bleach smells bad. And people don’t want their salt to smell like bleach.
Deodorize it. Now it has iodine, and is clean, white and has no smell, and is ready for human consumption.
Doctors are doing you a favor by telling you to stay away from this processed table salt, but they are doing you a disservice by telling you that all salt is bad and will raise your blood pressure.
Blood pressure is managed via a complex coordinated effort by your adrenals and kidneys. They use hormones to dictate the movement of minerals across different membranes, and thus put more water in the blood to raise blood pressure, or move water out of the blood to lower blood pressure. Water follows electrolytes (minerals that have a charge when dissolved in water), so the common misconception is that eating more salt (more electrolytes), will cause more water to be drawn into the bloodstream and blood pressure to rise to dangerous levels. But the electrolytes are simply the tools our body uses to direct water where it needs to go. Without electrolytes, our body cannot maintain or adjust blood pressure.
So while most Americans are actively avoiding salt, and are being marketed salt-free foods for fear of their blood pressure, athletes are acutely aware of their need for salt and are being aggressively marketed salt in all shapes, sizes and flavors in electrolyte sports drinks. This contrast is startling and is not helping anyone’s health. The truth is, real, unrefined sea salt is healthy for everybody, training or not. The minerals in salt help your adrenals and kidneys manage blood pressure, and replace the much needed electrolytes that athletes loose in sweat, while allowing you to avoid the chemicals in table salt, salt-free food, and sugary, colorful sports drinks.
Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP)
The views and opinions presented in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of Krav Maga Worldwide™