Updated: Oct 15
Sometimes getting healthy is about doing the opposite of what we’ve always been told. USDA guidelines have promoted high-carb diets based mainly in grain, but Paleo, low-carb, and Keto are actually helping people. Saturated fat is bad for you, right? Yet vegetable oil consumption may be the real culprit behind heart disease.
No surprise here. Nutrition has always been a battleground of back-and-forth debate and contradictory advice. Even so, the topic of this post challenges some of the longest-standing and least-questioned advice in all of health and fitness: avoid salt and drink more water.
Few pieces of health advice are more widely accepted than to avoid salt in your diet. What if I told you this is completely wrong.
The advice comes from a fear of the effect on blood pressure salt intake can cause. Blood pressure is one of the most directly correlated factors in heart disease risk, but the idea that lowering your salt intake is the best way to lower your blood pressure is suspect at best.
How important is salt? In nature, salt licks are sought by all types. Carnivore, omnivore, or herbivore, salt is a necessity. For humans, it’s not much different. Do you know the word salary is Latin for salt? This mineral is so valuable, it’s one of the oldest bases for currency. I’m all about the wisdom of nature, but we don’t need to go that far to see the value.
If for no other reason, salt should be valued for being one of the main electrolytes our body needs. Electrolytes literally transport electrons in our biology. They keep us running at the atomic level!
Other electrolytes like calcium, magnesium, and potassium are promoted, and we’re all told to drink as much water as we can handle. Without salt though, all that water can lead to loss of these essential minerals.
I’m not suggesting you stop drinking water but maybe focus on it less. In short, chase salt.
The Table Salt Issue
Salt has been linked to increased blood pressure in many studies, but the problem is most of these studies use table salt. What’s the big deal there? Well, what if you drank water that had anti-caking agents, aluminum, and lab-processed chemicals in it? That’s what it’s like.
Table salt is artificial, lab-created, crap. Using studies on table salt to make statements is like telling someone water is bad without mentioning it may have been sourced from lead pipes.
Real salt from natural sources is like spring water is compared to tap water. Hell, salt actually does what most people think water is for: It hydrates you.
When it comes to salt, you want to stick with natural stuff like Himalayan pink sea salt, Aztec salt, Celtic, or Redmond’s brand sea salt.
What does it look like when you use real salt instead of the artificial stuff? Studies have found that despite CDC recommendations to consume less than 2 grams of salt a day, higher consumption was correlated with better health up to 5 grams. Most countries consume an average of 3 grams of salt a day with no negative consequences, and only China, with a level of 5g being common, showed a significant relation between salt consumption and cardiovascular disease.
Salt also may help reduce cortisol, AKA the stress hormone. Increasing salt intake is a good way to combat stress as long as it’s quality salt and you aren’t over-consuming processed foods. Too low salt also potentially increases insulin resistance which means easier weight gain and a greater risk of diabetes.
We need a level of water for hydration, but we also desperately need electrolytes for this process. While most of us drink our fill of filtered, low-electrolyte water, if we don’t get enough electrolytes, this will actually dehydrate u