Does eating a whole bag of a salty snack make you feel better? If it does, you may not be alone. A recent study at the University of Iowa concluded that salt may be “nature’s anti-depressant.” The study found rats did not participate in activities they normally enjoy when deficient in sodium chloride (common table salt). Since they didn’t act with their usual zest, the researchers concluded they were depressed.
To Pass the Salt or Not to Pass – That is the Question
Wow – hold the salt! Most Americans already far exceed the FDA recommended maximum for sodium of 2400 milligrams daily (equivalent to approximately one and a quarter teaspoons of natural salt). Before you go seek some high calorie nutrient depleting junk food to enhance your mood you need to know one thing. There is a big difference between salt and sodium. This is a key point the researchers fail to articulate. Sodium is essential to life, not the sodium chloride they mention in the report.
Our tongue senses salt, so we can get the sodium we need. It is part of the fluid between the cells and therefore instrumental in the health of each cell in the body. Along with its partner potassium, the two minerals balance the nutrient and waste exchange of each cell. Sodium is also in our blood, our lymphatic fluid, and is required for the production of hydrochloric acid so we can digest our food. Sodium is involved in nerve and muscle functioning where it again teams with potassium. It also maintains our body’s fluid balance, electrolyte balance, and pH balance.
Healthy sources of natural sodium include vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, and meat. Not refined table salt. Unfortunately, that is where most Americans get it. Like all other processed or refined foods, table salt has been stripped its naturally occurring beneficial minerals so all that remains are the sodium and chloride. To make matters worse, during the manufacturing process it is chemically cleaned, bleached, and heated so high that the chemical structure changes. Anticaking agents are added so the salt will not mix with water when in your salt shaker. This is fine in the salt shaker, but it does the same thing in your body. The refined salt does not dissolve and combine properly with the water and fluids in our body so it builds up in the body and leaves deposits in our tissues and organs. This leads to health problems such as hypertension (high blood pressure), calcium deficiency, osteoporosis, fluid retention, weight gain, headaches, stomach ulcers, and stomach cancer to name a few.
Many people crave salt. That may be an indication that their adrenal glands are stressed out, meaning they are stressed out. According to Chinese medicine salt cravings are a sign of too much sugar or alcohol in the diet and the body’s way to come back into balance. Sometimes salt cravings can be a warning for oncoming hypertension. If you have salt cravings definitely consult a nutritionist who can help you determine what is out of balance.
What about Iodine? Don’t I Get That From Table Salt?
One of the big misconceptions about salt is that we need to use salt that is iodized. Iodine is necessary for the thyroid gland to function correctly. Iodine has been added to table salt for that purpose. However, unrefined sea salt, Celtic salt, or Himalayan salt are examples of natural salts that contain many minerals. Foods such as ocean fish, kelp, and other sea vegetables also contain iodine. For more information on iodine I highly recommend this web site. One way to determine whether or not you have sufficient iodine is called the iodine patch test. You can Google “iodine patch test” for more information and instructions.
What to Do?
Get your needed sodium, but obtain it from the healthy sources I cited and keep it under control. To get the full story about salt and sodium and how to reduce it in your diet get a copy of my book Get the Salt Out.
Salt May be a Natural Antidepressant from AOL Health News,
Gittleman, Ann Louise. Get the Salt Out: 501 Simple Ways to Cut the Salt Out of Any Diet. New York: Three Rivers Press. 1996.
Visionary, health guru, diet/detox expert, and natural foods icon Ann Louise Gittleman is the award-winning author of 30 books on health and healing including the New York Times bestsellers The Fat Flush Plan and Before The Change. Her most recent release is The Gut Flush Plan.
For the past two decades she has been considered one of the foremost nutritionist in the United States.
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