It’s something that sort of gets a bad rap with the health-conscious set. We are aware that we shouldn’t be consuming too much sodium because it can result in high blood pressure and lead to bloating, water weight and our pants feeling too tight. All of which none of us want!
But salt is essential in a healthy diet and a lot of people are suffering from a salt-deficiency without even knowing it. And a salt-deficiency can be very bad news for the body. A salt-deficiency can be something overlooked until something serious happens like a fainting spell, serious muscle spasms or a seizure. All bad news.
Sodium is a mineral that is essential for fluid balances in the body, blood pressure control, electrolyte balance and proper muscle and nerve function. It keeps everything working properly and without it things get a little messy and foggy in your mind and body.
A salt deficiency can result in:
Altered mental state
Inability to think clearly
Nausea and vomiting
Muscle spasms and reduced muscle function
The tricky thing about these symptoms is that they are common symptoms for other things going on in the body too! This often makes people overlook a sodium deficiency and think that they may just be low energy, starting to get a cold or just lacking in sleep. At one point a few years ago, I was feeling constantly low energy, headachy and just tired all the time. A doctor friend of mine told me that I should introduce more good sodium into my diet and when I did, my mental state and energy levels did a complete turn around. I was completely better- and I was shocked that the solution was that simple!
At the time, I was working out a lot (which is sort of normal for me haha) and I was cutting out sodium and processed foods because I was on a crazy health kick and trying to lose a few pounds before a magazine shoot. I was eating mostly plant-based foods and eating what I thought was super healthy and great for me. Turns out, I was lacking a lot in this style of eating. AND I was lacking salt, among many other things. When I started salting my foods and changing back to a more normal, more balanced way of eating, I felt SO much better. I also felt happier and my body responded much better to the exercise I was doing. This was the first time I realized that my salty-food addiction may not be as bad as I always thought it was! YAY!
People become sodium deficient because of over consumption of water, excessive exercise without proper replenishment, eating disorders and from avoidance of the mineral because they think it’s “bad”.
A lot of women (and men) cut salt and don’t salt their foods because they think it will make them bloat and retain water, which isn’t necessarily true. If you eat way too much or you eat bad types of sodium, that will certainly happen because not all salt is created equal.
If you are eating full-sodium soy sauce and downing bags of salty chips and salty processed foods…yea, you will probably get bloated. But those aren’t healthy ways to get sodium. And those types of food aren’t super healthy things to eat in general, so your body will swell and you will probably experience inflammation in the body. Inflammation in the body can lead to other complications and digestive issues making everything just worse for your body and how you feel.
So what types of salts should you be eating and how much?
What types should you be eating??
NATURAL SALTS!! Sea salts and Himalayan pink salts are the best! These two types of salt are loaded with additional natural minerals that help balance all of your bodily functions. Sea salts like Celtic Sea Salt and Real Salt are great options.
As for Himalayan Pink Salt– this is the absolute winner here! Himalayan Salt has an additional 84 essential minerals and it helps your body eliminate toxins, balance electrolytes, absorb nutrients in foods, increase circulation, control blood pressure and maintain a balanced pH. This salt is the best of the best AND it is super pretty. Which doesn’t matter at all health-wise, but just makes me happy.
These natural salts help your body function well, supply you with essential minerals and are great additions to any healthy diet.
AND if you are eating good quality salt on your food and not over-consuming it, it will help flush your body of excess water and toxins…which is the opposite of what people tend to think it will do! Good salts will help your body stay looking great and keep you from getting bloated.
Which salts to avoid?
Table salt. Table salt is what you find on the table at most restaurants and in all of that junky processed food that tastes so good. It is loaded with other chemicals such as aluminum hydroxide and iodine, which both have been shown to be not so great for our bodies. Iodine has been linked to thyroid problems and aluminum should be avoided at all costs! Plus, why add chemicals when you can eat pure natural salt that tastes better?? Table salt is also void of any additional essential minerals- it’s the loser in the salt department. Soy sauce should also be used sparingly. I only use low sodium soy sauce, and I still try to use as little as possible when eating sushi etc. It makes me swell up so much to the point where I can’t get my rings off my fingers! So use it sparingly!
Ok, so how much should you be eating??
The general thought is that most people should be getting 2-3 teaspoons of salt a day from either added salt or naturally occurring salts in the foods you consume. Of course all of that depends on your activity level and your health history. If you workout a lot, have a rigorous job and just tend to sweat a lot…you will probably need to eat a little bit more. It may take some testing and experimentation because getting way too much is not good, but also getting too little is not good. I would consult a physician about this because he or she can test your blood pressure, investigate your health history and let you know a more accurate amount that is right for you and your body.
If you don’t suffer from any noticeable symptoms of a salt deficiency and your blood pressure is at a normal range, then you are most likely getting the right amount and you should instead focus on the quality of salt you are getting instead- start eating Himalayan salts instead of table salt!
Since I cook at home a lot, I use sea salts and Himalayan salts to salt my food. I roast a lot of veggies, and I will toss them in coconut oil and sea salt before roasting- it brings out their flavor and browns them really nicely. I also sprinkle chicken breast, salmon and eggs lightly with sea salt before cooking to season them and create a nice golden color on proteins.
When I make salad, I sprinkle it with some sea salt, then add some olive oil or a light dressing. The salt really tenderizes the greens and adds a lot of flavor.
My favorite salts are linked below!
Happy Friday! Have a great weekend and don’t forget to salt your foods!