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Too Much Salt Is Unhealthy, But What Does It Really Do to Our Bodies?

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Our taste buds have been acclimatised to eating salt: food manufacturers add large amounts to most processed foods as do TV chefs, you will find it in most recipes, sweet as well as savoury dishes,  and it is used abundantly as a preservative. Like most health-related topics there are mixed messages about salt’s benefits, with even healthcare professionals believing that it is essential to have this micronutrient daily while at the same time cautioning us that it can lead to hypertension, heart disease, stroke, and much more.

So what does our body require? Our body requires sodium, which is a natural element key for nervous system functioning.   Sodium is an organic compound readily available in many natural foods such as vegetables and fruit, therefore, following a plant based diet provides adequate sodium in the quantities our body requires. Some people find the support of a wellbeing coach an essential aspect of understanding how their body functions.

What is then being consumed in processed foods, takeaways, in restaurants and purchased as ‘table salt’? Table salt is sodium chloride; 40% sodium and 60% chlorine which is processed in a laboratory and is highly irritating and acts like a toxin to our delicate tissues. Our body’s natural reaction is to try to eliminate it by diluting it which can lead to swelling of body tissues (oedema) and inflammation which in turn puts pressure on the body’s organs culminating in elevated blood pressure,  heart attacks, kidney stones or failure,  strokes, irritation of the brain including headaches, migraines and senility, chronic inflammation of the stomach’s lining, acid reflux, osteoporosis, and circulatory problems affecting blood vessels leading to varicose veins, haemorrhoids, and heavy menstrual flow.

Stroke is one of the leading causes of death in China where the population have a high salt intake. Compare that with the Yanomami tribe of Brazil who consume no salt, and their blood pressure averages only 95/61 mmHg, which remains constant with age. 

Sodium chloride is also an expectorant increasing mucous and phlegm flow to remove the toxicity of the respiratory tract.   If you are suffering from  acute rhino-sinusitis, hot flashes, night sweats and glaucoma it may be linked to your salt intake.  

Himalayan salt is marketed as ‘pure’ salt, mined by hand and originating from an unpolluted bed (in Pakistan) – this gives it a high price tag.  Sea salt is derived from evaporated salt water and goes through less of a process compared to table salt, however, both are sodium chloride so equally damaging to our body. 

To increase the natural sodium in your diet you can drink 100% coconut water and include seaweed, dark green leafy vegetables, carrots, celery and parsley.   A nutritional therapist can support you in transitioning your diet away from salt.

Your taste buds will need a period of adaptation when removing sodium chloride from your diet however the health benefits will become evident and soon your natural taste sensitivity will be restored to enjoy a kaleidoscope of delicious natural flavours.  Weight loss as a result of eliminating water retention will be an added bonus. If you require help with food, or any other addictions, a session of access bars energy medicine could create the necessary change.

Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.

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