Natural salt is the element that helps to regulate water content in the body. The balance of water and salt in the body is critical. And as it turns out – salt has an essential role in the removal of excess acid wastes from the cells. To name just a few of its virtues.

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For many years we were told that salt is bad for us. And yet at one time salt was so valued that ‘salt bars’ were the standard currency of Ethiopia. Roman soldiers were sometimes paid in salt – which is where the word ‘salary’ comes from. Not so long ago it copped a lot of negativity though, leaving many of us just a little confused about salt and it’s affect on our health.

I remember in the 80’s following the Pritikin Diet, as Mum had done one of their cooking classes and thought we would all benefit following this diet. Basically it recommended NO fat and NO salt. Heavens above. How wrong that was! The food was boring, especially after having my first 12 years eating foods loaded with olive oil, garlic and salt. Did food need to taste like this if it was going to be healthy? A resounding NOOOOOO is was I have learnt. Actually it was unhealthy food.

In general, natural sea salt helps to balance the entire body. All our body fluids are salty – blood, sweat, tears and saliva. The general consensus is that a healthy adult should aim to include around five or six grams of salt a day to maintain a good balance. (About 1 teaspoon.)

We were told by ‘authorities’ that salt increases our blood pressure, our weight, and basically was a killer. Then they started adding iodine to table salt as they figured that we all had an underactive thyroid so why not mass medicate the population? And an easy way to do this was to add potentially toxic iodine to table salt. This comes in the form of potassium iodine or sodium iodine – to create iodised salt. Then sugar (dextrose) is added to stabilise the iodine. Oh and it has another chemical added to prevent in getting lumpy. In addition, your table salt very often contains potentially dangerous preservatives – calcium carbonate, magnesium carbonate, and aluminum hydroxide. (Aluminum is a light alloy that deposits into your brain — a potential cause of Alzheimer’s disease.) Today’s table and cooking salt is void of vital trace minerals. What remains after salt is “chemically cleaned” is sodium chloride.

Refined table salt that you get from supermarkets in big plastic containers is 97.5% sodium chloride and 2.5% chemicals such as moisture absorbents, and iodine. Dried at over 650oC, the excessive heat alters the natural chemical structure of the salt, besides everything else wrong with it.

Typical table salt crystals are totally isolated from each other. In order for your body to try to metabolize table salt crystals, it must sacrifice tremendous amounts of energy. Inorganic sodium chloride can keep you from an ideal fluid balance and can overburden your elimination systems.

For every gram of sodium chloride that your body cannot get rid of, your body uses 23 times the amount of cell water to neutralize the salt. Eating this kind of common table salt causes excess fluid in your body tissue, which can contribute to cellulite, rheumatism, arthritis, gout and kidney and gall bladder stones.

Sodium chloride is an unnatural chemical form of salt that your body doesn’t recognize, and why would it – it’s foreign to it and doesn’t need or want it for anything. This form of salt is in practically every processed food there is.

So what happens to all of this toxic salt we consume? We now know our bodies can’t use it so what does it do with it?

When your body tries to isolate the excess salt, water molecules must surround the sodium chloride to break them up into sodium and chloride ions in order to help your body neutralize them. To accomplish this, water is taken from your cells. This results in a less-than-ideal fluid balance in the cells.

Why is there so much bad salt around?

‘Industry’ wants pure sodium chloride. In fact over 90% of the world’s salt is being used directly for this purpose, and the rest – well, it ends up in processed food and in your pantry – and cells.

China is the largest salt producer of salt in the world followed closely by the United States. Salt is generally produced one of three ways

  1. Deep-shaft mining is much like mining for any other mineral. The salt is taken from ancient underground seabeds. Most salt produced this way is used as rock salt.
  2. In solution mining, wells are erected over salt beds and the fresh water is added to dissolve the salt. Then the ‘brine’, is pumped out and taken to a processing plant for evaporation. Most common table salt is produced this way.
  3. Salt is harvested from seawater or salt lakes after the sun and wind evaporate the water. It is usually harvested once a year when the salt reaches a specific thickness. This only works in areas with low rainfall and a lot of sun – Mediterranean countries and Australia for example.

So if we don’t want this type of refined salt, which one do we want? The type of salt that has the least amount of processing and one that has nothing added. It’s perfect just the way it is. Of course it is – nature made it this way. There are a few types and once you’ve used these – there is no going back to toxic salt. Not even to use as your ‘cooking, preserving or pickling salt’. Put it somewhere with the microwave. Like in the bin.

Celtic Salt

Light grey Celtic sea salt is dried only by the summer wind and sun. It is not refined at all by any processing.

Seawater is filtered and boiled which removes any impurities. It’s then heated until the salt crystallizes. The ‘drawing’ of the salt is traditionally done by hand from the pans. This takes skill. Natural Celtic sea salt is light grey in color, which comes from the sea minerals and clay found in the salt flats. The clay ionizes the minerals in the salt, making it even more beneficial. This salt is moist and will retain this moisture even when stored in a cool place for a long period of time.

This coarse salt is best used in cooking. For use on the table, get it ‘fine’, or you can grind it with a ceramic salt grinder or a mortar and pestle. Avoid metal grinders and grind only as you need for best results.

Himalayan

Crystal salt has spent over 250 million years maturing under extreme tectonic pressure, far away from exposure to impurities. Himalayan Salt is waiting for the moment to have its inherent, stored energy – its bio-photon content – set free, by adding water.

All of the 84 elements can be found in crystal salt.  Hence, crystal salt contains all the natural minerals and trace elements of which the human body is comprised. It is much more than sodium and chloride; crystal salt can actually be viewed as medicine. It contains the planets highest elemental content, with 84 of the 94 elements. (From the periodic table of elements we are familiar with 94 natural elements – stable as well as unstable.)

Himalayan salt is hand-mined mindfully and with respect. It’s contains enormous amounts of stored information – from 250,000,000 years ago.

Murray River

The salt does not contain any of the artificial additives or chemicals used in refined table salt. Murray River salt retains naturally occurring minerals and trace elements, such as magnesium and calcium, also lost in industrial processing. With decades of inland saline water mineral extraction experience, Murray River salt have developed unique techniques to sustainably extract salts from the inland brines. Murray River salt has been instrumental in contributing to efforts to combat the major environmental issue of salinity that exists in the Murray Darling Basin. Since operations began, tens of thousands of salt have been diverted from entering the Murray River, which is the major water source for food production in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia.

Rock Salt

Mostly obtained from mining ancient underground sea beds, the elements in rock salt are not integrated into the salt’s crystal grid, but cling to the outside surface and crevices of the crystalline structure. This is the fundamental difference between rock salt and crystal (Himalayan and Celtic) salt. Rock salt is a cheap alternative to table salt, and at least hasn’t been highly refined with loads of toxic chemicals added. It’s still in its natural state but bio-chemically and bio-physically it’s of little value.

Maldon

The concentrated brine is pumped up from an ancient inland sea in the UK where the water travels through several canals before making its way to crystallizer ponds. The brine is evaporated by the sun and crystallizes over the summer months. It is then hand harvested and transported to a nearby processing plant to be washed, dried and packaged. Nothing added. It’s just the salt.

Some of the benefits of mineral-rich salt

– It restores the body’s alkaline & electrolyte balance

– Regulates heartbeat and blood pressure

– Eliminates and prevents further mucus buildup

– Improves brain function

– Balances blood sugars

– Mineral rich salt will help to maintain the optimal acid-alkaline balance.

– Increases energy. When sodium and trace minerals are deficient in the body, fatigue will set in

Provides electrolyte balance. For problems with water retention, gradual sea salt intake can help to release excess water stored in body tissue

– Builds immunity

– Promotes restful sleep

– Prevents muscle cramps

– There is no limited shelf life and no need for silica packets to prevent clumping.

Other ways you can use these unrefined salt are as bath salts. Taking a ‘brine bath’ is a wonderful way to detox and relax. This bath will also rejuvenate your skin.

You can dilute ¼ tsp in 1 cup of clean water and use as a nasal wash to help reduce any phlegm associated with sinus or a post nasal drip.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the season associated with the salty flavour is winter and the emotions attached to this are fear, anxiety and feeling isolated. Ancient wisdom tells us that salt is a ‘grounding’ flavour, so in this way we can see how it would help anxiety. TCM also tell us that an excess of salt promotes rigidity and greed and will increase sugar cravings.

So use salt mindfully, especially in the warmer months when less is needed. Spend a bit more on quality salt and at all costs avoid table salt, both as a seasoning at home and in processed and packaged foods. And remember there is plenty in take away junk food.

I’m off to the kitchen to make some of these flavoured salts. I highly recommend giving one or two of these a try.

In love, and wellbeing,

Janella

Flavoured Salts (out of my new book Janella’s Super Natural Foods’, available in November 2014.

As a rule use 3 times the amount of sea or Himalayan salt to flavourings. Use dried flavourings like herbs, spices and teas for a longer shelf life. If you want to use fresh ingredients like chilies, lemongrass, ginger or fresh herbs, then you’ll need to dry them out before adding them to the salt, otherwise make only what you need for a few days as they won’t keep more than that, or dry the flavourings before adding to the salt. To dry them, pound your ingredients together to make a paste, then spread them out on the baking sheet and put it in a moderate-slow 110°C oven for around an hour to get rid of all the moisture. Or use your dehydrator. Once they’re completely dry, whiz it in your food processor and make sure it’s dry before storing. They will last up to 3 months this way, after that the flavours will start to diminish.

Chili, lemongrass and lime zest

Rosemary and garlic

Jasmine tea

Lemon zest and vanilla seeds

Fennel seeds and lime zest

Ginger and chili

Sichuan peppercorn, chili and ginger

Rosemary and orange rind

Szechuan pepper and lime or mandarin zest

Toasted sesame seeds and salt. Use a surabachi instead of a mortar and pestle.

Pistachio and cumin

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