Salt is a biological necessity of human life. However, you probably live your life everyday unaware of this. Most packaged foods have salt already added to it. Check the label on anything you have in the house that has been processed. But if you are already in the habit of preparing your own foods, your taste buds – and your body – will immediately tell you when the salt is missing.
Salt was one of the main commodities for trading, because everyone knew that their health was drastically affected when it was missing. The word ‘salary’ comes from the Latin ‘salarium argentum’ – salt money. It referred to the payment made to every Roman soldier. The city of Rome may have begun as a center for trading salt, much as Venice did. Man-made salt ponds along the Mediterranean shore date back to Roman times. Salt was already being mined in the Alps when Rome was founded. Early on the salt traders came to realize the necessity for salt. The corruption that arose around the possession and distribution of salt created monopolies. Around 500 B.C., the salt traders at the Roman port of Ostia raised the price so high that the state was forced to take over the industry.
To continue to understand it’s historic importance, salt has been taxed by governments from the time of the ancient Chinese and Romans to late medieval Burgundy, where salt was taxed at 100% as it was delivered from the salt works. When Burgundy became a part of France, the notorious salt tax, known as “la gabelle”, became necessary for the government. Cardinal Richelieu proclaimed that it was as important to France as American silver was to Spain. In 1789, the repeal of the salt tax was a major goal of the French Revolutionary War, but Napoleon restored it to pay for the war debt when he became emperor – and it continued until 1945! It is said that a Spanish salt pan financed the voyages of Columbus. The state of New York paid for the Erie Canal with it’s salt tax!
Salt is essential for your life. I know many people have been told to reduce – or even eliminate – salt in their diets. But your body was engineered to like the taste of salt because it knows it needs the minerals in salt to survive.
Uses for salt
- Salt helps retain water in your body – Our body relies on electrolytes, which includes salt, to help carry out electrical impulses that control many of our body’s functions. One of these functions is our thirst mechanism. Electrolytes trigger this, which then encourages us to consume an adequate amount of water. With this water, our kidneys are able to keep the appropriate amount of electrolytes in our bloodstream. The retention of this water also has an impact on our blood pressure.
- Salt stimulates muscle contraction – Salt is important to your nervous system because it stimulates muscle contractions, which prevents your muscles from cramping. When you exercise and sweat, you lose salt and water. This creates an imbalance between your electrolytes and salt. Electrolytes control the flow of fluids in and out of your cells. This imbalance can prevent the muscles and nerves from responding and having a normal recovery. So, salt is essential for retaining water in your bodily tissues, including your muscles.
- Salt contains nutrients vital to your digestive system – Salt plays a primary role in your body’s process of digestion and absorption. It activates an enzyme in your mouth called salivary amylase. This is what allows your taste buds to taste your food in your mouth. As your food makes it’s way through your digestive system, the salt will help your body to break down the food. One of the ways it does this is by creating hydrochloric acid. This is a digestive secretion which lines your stomach walls. This helps your body to digest the food, rather than digesting itself.
- A lack of salt is dangerous – A sodium deficiency is when your body fails to receive an adequate supply of sodium. This is very prevalent in excessively high temperatures, which causes your body to perspire heavily and you become dehydrated. Sodium deficiency can lead to shock because your blood pressure has decreased too quickly. Too little salt can lead to a disturbance in your tissue-water balance, as well as your acid-base.
Why Himalayan Salt?
- The chemical treatment of table salt – Today’s common table salt has little in common with natural salt. Your table salt is actually about 97.5% sodium chloride. Sodium chloride is an unnatural chemical form of salt that your body recognizes as foreign. Water molecules surround the sodium chloride to break up the compound. The water taken from your system to do this results in a fluid imbalance, which contributes to things like arthritis and kidney stones. There are 2.5% other chemicals, such as moisture absorbers, that are added. Another thing to consider is that commercial salt is dried at a high heat, so that the natural chemical structure of the salt becomes altered.
- Trace minerals – Minerals are the foundational nutrient for your entire body. Organic minerals are also referred to as electrolytes. Himalayan salt has a rich mineral content that includes over 84 minerals and trace elements, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, and iron. These are identical to the elements by which our bodies were built with. They are actually alkaline minerals that help keep you hydrated, fill your body with the necessary electrolytes, and balance your sodium-potassium ratios. An imbalance in your sodium-potassium ratio will not only lead to high blood pressure, but also heart disease and stroke, along with several other diseases.
- More easily absorbed – Your body will become hydrated more easily. The minerals are in an ionic molecular form instead of colloidal like regular salt. Colloidal minerals are not readily absorbed by the body due to the absence of an electrical charge and their relatively large size. Colloidal minerals are unable to pass through the membrane that lines the digestive tract. Ionic minerals, on the other hand, are easily transported across the membranes of the digestive tract. Because they are charged, your body has to use less energy to absorb the minerals.
Besides using this salt in preparing your food, it has another amazing use – in your bathtub. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, observed fishermen soaking their injured hands in the sea water. He also noticed that they had very few infections or complications after doing this. After more research, he encouraged his patients to do this because he found it encouraged a mineral balance in the blood, as well as a release of toxins between the blood and water.
The detox affect of a salt bath is found to be the equivalent of a 3-day juice fast. It will reduce acidity and inflammation, stimulate your circulation, hydrate and balance the pH of your skin.
It’s easy to do. Fill your bath tub with very warm water, then add about 2 lbs of salt. Make sure you dissolve it well. Soak for about 20-30 minutes. When you are done, air dry and don’t put on any lotions or creams. Make sure to keep drinking water. The correct concentration is essential. You need to have a 1% solution – that’s about 27-32 gallons of water to about 2.6 lbs. of salt. I find this bath to be very relaxing.
I encourage you to include Himalayan salt in your basic pantry essentials. Who knows, it could become a bartering commodity if things get really tough. If you need more information or ideas about salt, give me a call.