Sep 28, 2012

Use Unrefined Salt

Americans are so used to hearing physicians' warnings against salt that Dr. Batmanghelidj's advice to increase salt consumption sounds strange. But he's right. While refined table salt causes serious problems, natural salt improves every body function.

All popular brands of table salt have been bleached, then treated with stabilizing agents and dehydrating chemicals. Whether coarse or finely ground, this salt is between 98 and 99 percent pure sodium chloride (NaCl), and it was dried at temperatures high enough to change its crystalline structure. Its structural changes, nutrient stripping and added chemicals make table salt difficult for the body to assimilate, contributing to electrolyte imbalances, trace mineral deficiencies, digestive problems, fluid retention and high blood pressure. The sodium content of nearly every processed food derives from refined salt.

Unfortunately, nearly all brands of sea salt have been refined. Most sea salt is 98 to 99 percent pure sodium chloride and, like table salt, it contains no trace minerals, only the residue of processing chemicals. Let appearance and flavor guide you. If a salt is bright white (unrefined rock salt or mined salt is beige in color, unrefined sea salt is gray), if it is iodized (iodine added), if its crystals are large like kosher salt prior to grinding, if it pours easily in humid conditions and if it has the sharp, familiar taste of table salt, it's best avoided.

Natural salt is of special interest to herbalists. Traditionally, herbal teas were served salted to enhance the healing properties of ''simples'' and blends. A pinch of unrefined salt added to a glass of water or pot of tea helps balance the body's electrolytes and provides trace minerals often lacking in the food we eat. For a more effective alternative to commercial sports beverages, add a pinch of unrefined sea salt to water and a splash of juice for flavor.

Remember Dr. Batmanghelidj's advice to hold a pinch of salt on the tongue after drinking water for relief from respiratory congestion and to increase salt consumption in general if you suffer from asthma or allergies.