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Making Sense on Salt Awareness Week

Salt Awareness Week is always interersting and when we get to debate lots of issues around real food, and real salt!  We've been supplying these amazing healthy salts (full range here) in our additive free range for over ten years! Use code IAMNEW to save 10% on your first order

We're very interested to see what happens this week with a new prominent player raising awareness for how important salt is for health and how misguided "low salt" is Dr James Dinicolantonio author of the great book The Salt Fix has been making real waves on this issue, and on social media channels. It will be especially interesting this week as the debates unfold, the best place is probably his Twitter account. If this subject interests you, do grab his book. 

There are lots of VERY well intentioned people sending the wrong message when it comes to salt. We need more balance on this issue. We LOVE Healthy Celtic Salt  it's a foundation for good health. But lots of other real salts are great. We always recommend broad spectrum salt over refined salt, but even the case against refined salt is overstated.  It is processed foods and SUGAR not salt that are the real major issues we face today. Low salt can be incredibly dangerous for athletes, the elderly and pregnant ladies especially. But for very nearly everyone (some rare health issues aside), low salt is misguided advice. 

Salt hydrates, transmits electrical signals, protects against food poisoning, protects muscles, prevents diabetes and heart disease and much more besides! Clever stuff. And it is completely essential to life itself.   

“My view is that it is very likely that low salt will ultimately prove to be another public health disaster. There is already sufficient evidence to suggest that low salt could actually result in increased risk of cardiovascular disease" Dr. McCarron

 

Nutritional Dogma

Each year they tell us to "eat less salt" during Salt Awareness Week, and each year there is a different theme.  Yet life itself depends on Salt, so why did a life giving substance became such a toxic force in the modern lifestyle? And why did one of the most complex substances on the planet become known simply as chemical Sodium Chloride?
 
There is a vast amount of nutritional and medical dogma out there today, and nowhere more so than salt (well, perhaps the incorrect nutritional information regarding Butter or Margarine?).

 

Comments on Some of the Campaigns

A quick glance at the papers always shows the same tired headlines so lacking in nutritional truths across the entire British media.  The headlines love to be attention grabbing but fail to get to the issues.

"Less Salt Please" sounds simple doesn't it! But this reduces a complex nutritional issue down to a simplistic phrase that makes for good headlines.  Recently, the provenance of our food has been very much in the news.  We think it's time for a real food resurgence, and time for real salt to take back its proper place. Salt is essential to life itself, but it needs to be the right sort for the best results - Celtic Salt being the very best nutritionally.  We discuss the health issues in full below.

First things first, table salt is not real salt but refined sodium chloride, an industrial by product.  It's lethal to marine organsims at sea water concentration.  Real salt (Celtic Salt being the best) is a food packed with essential minerals and trace elements - entirely different, and entirely healthy.  And when it comes to blood pressure, you might be surprised!
 
But even though they are a World apart, the issue today is the processed food not the salt. And much as with the mistruths we see on saturated fats, the science is very shaky at best, and often distorted for the sake of headlines. 


Blood Pressure

The focus in 2012 was stroke reduction.  A worthy and vital campaign of course, but stroke prevention is far more complex than this. Boiling it down to salt misses vital opportunities and sends the wrong message in our opinion.  Will an overweight smoker with a poor diet make a difference by cutting down on salt? Absolutely not, they need far more understanding and comprehensive lifestyle change.
 
CASH SAY "Cutting back on salt will lower your blood pressure and work to prevent the rise in blood pressure that usually occurs with age"

WE SAY - such sweeping statements have no real scientific basis. Low salt diets MAY lower blood pressure slightly for a small number of people.  In most trials, (and there have been hundreds), salt reduction has little or no impact for the vast majority of people.   No benefits have ever been shown for salt reduction on healthy people, and for some, low salt can in fact be very dangerous (for example the elderly - more below).  In some studies, salt reduction causes an increase in mortality from heart disease, in others a rise in LDL cholesterol. So again, sweeping advice is flawed. The underlying reasons for hypertension are complex and varied.  

“My view is that it is very likely that low salt will ultimately prove to be another public health disaster.  Dr David McCarron, issuing a stark warning to the UK Government in 2007

(NB the study referred to in the CASH press release notes dietary issues as one of ten issues that affect stroke, salt is not referenced specifically).

CASH SAY - "Less salt: Choose lower salt foods & ingredients, don't add salt at the table or during cooking & read the label. If it's got a red label think twice before making it a regular part of your diet"
 
WE SAY - Real Food: salt enhances flavour, it is absolutely natural to enjoy the taste of salt, it is a life giving substance that bathes every single cell in the human body.  Avoid processed foods, nd refined salt, add real salt at the table and in cooking  - your taste buds know how much is too much.  As is often the case with "low fat", products branded "low salt" are typically packed with questionable ingredients.

And now it's over to our comprehensive article exploring all the salt issues!

 

The History of Salt

Salt for food purposes accounts for just 7% of the World’s salt production, the rest goes to industrial sources. Little wonder then that salt has become one of the most desecrated, and misunderstood of our food treasures.
 
In days gone by, salt was a food and a way to keep food fresh.
 
As the modern age advanced, salt became a necessity for chemical manfacturing and a raw material for many products. But industry didnt want salt in it's natural form, it wanted pure sodium chloride, and only from land locked sources making it easy to refine and transport.
 
We became insignificant in the demand for salt, basic human biology was dismissed, and industry determined that isolated sodium choloride was to be on our tables.  Slowly but surely, we forgot about real salt, and somehow decided that cheap, bright white and toxic salt was normal.
 
So, salts place as an important food, and yes, a health supplement, has been undermined by a plethora of issues that are nothing to do with food!

 

Toxic Table Salt v Full Spectrum Salts

There is a huge distinction between toxic table salt which is just sodium chloride, stripped of all the naturally healthy nutrients, with some chemical additives for good measure, and salts such as the most natural, and healthy salt in the World - Celtic Salt. This contains a rich spectrum of 92 minerals, trace elements and macro-nutrients, more than just a condiment, it has a rightful place as a genuine natural health supplement. It is totally balanced. But again, even the case against refined salt is overstated. 

 

The Role Salt Plays

You have around a cup of salt in your body at any one time; it's essential to life itself.  Salt plays many vital roles including regulating fluid balance, carrying carbon dioxide to your lungs, transmitting electrical pulses between your vital organs, and ensuring you get the maximum from your food, it even protects you against food poisoning. Real salt is packed with minerals and trace elements that are often missing in the modern diet, but which play vital roles for good health.
 
The growth in processed foods, has led to a massive over consumption of (table) salt, with many people being unaware how much they are consuming.    But there are so many misconceptions and mistruths when it comes to salt, it's hard to get to the crux of the matter.  In many cases, research is misinterpreted, and bandied about in headlines despite shaky evidence at best.
 
Any research with the slight suggestion that a high salt diet is dangerous is based on toxic table salt, so switching to real salt is the first step to take.  And whilst we emphasise evidence is flimsy, for those people where salt might be an issue, ingesting sodium without potassium, magnesium and calcium, is nutritionally the root cause of the issues.

Celtic Salt can indeed be used liberally, but in any event, cooking real unprocessed food calls for just the right amount of salt...naturally!  Excess salt comes from processed foods, not from the real home kitchen. A quick word on taste here - Celtic Salt is wonderfully soft on the palate, and rich in flavour, just a touch goes a long way.
 

So what about Low Salt diets?

For those in good health, there is absolutely no evidence that a low salt diet is beneficial. Blanket advice to everyone is wholly inappropriate. No study has ever shown any benefits for a low salt diet for generally healthy people.
 
The biggest talking point is the relationship between salt and high blood pressure.   Some argue a close association between the two, and most GPS advise reducing salt intake for those that are hypertensive.  However, a close look at the studies shows that the relationship is actually pretty insignificant.
 
Noted researchers agree that the link between salt and blood pressure is “theoretical”.  Far more powerful and relevant for those with high blood pressure are lifestyle changes such as losing weight, quitting smoking, and changing overall diet.
 
World renowned authority on the role of diet and heart disease, Dr David McCarron, issued a stark warning to the UK Government in 2007;
 
“My view is that it is very likely that low salt will ultimately prove to be another public health disaster. There is already sufficient evidence to suggest that low salt could actually result in increased risk of cardiovascular disease. But the reality is that the international community needs to commission controlled trials so that we have the evidence as to whether the current policy is safe and effective. To do anything less is irresponsible.”
 
Again, the emphasis here should be on moderate use of the right sorts of salt, and a balanced diet free from processed foods.
 
You may find an interview with the renowned researcher Jaques de Langre interesting, it's a fascinating read, and looks closely at the issues surrounding salt and good health - Click Here
 
Salt has been linked with other issues such as osteoporosis and asthma. Again research is entirely focused on a high intake of toxic table salt.
 

The Risks of Low Salt diets

For certain groups of people, a low salt diet can actually pose considerable risks. Alarmist media coverage poses risks for those that take advice to extremes.
 
For seniors, there are particular risks. Research by Professor Ingo Füsgen from the Department of Geriatrics at the University of Witten-Herdecke in Germany looked closely at this issue, and found that 80% of elderly people try to consume salt sparingly.
 
His studies found that up to 10 per cent of senior citizens suffer from sub-acute sodium deficiency, which can result in a variety of health problems.
 
Quoting Professor Füsgen "Sodium deficiency is common for elderly people but it is often not recognized. Many older people are not aware of the danger of a low salt diet and try to reduce their consumption of salt because they assume it is healthy to do so."
 
And from the general secretary of the Salt Manufacturers Association;
 
"We said earlier this week that in the case of the elderly, cutting salt might be dangerous, especially in the summer months. Because they tend to drink less and are less acclimatised to hot weather, salt lost through sweat is not replaced. Their blood pressure rises, so putting added strain on their hearts. We remain convinced that the Department of Health and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) are ignoring inconvenient evidence in pursuit of a campaign that unfairly targets one of life’s essentials”.
 
For pregnant women, salt restriction is often advocated in order to avoid fluid retention. But a low salt diet may cause problems; if you have concerns, discuss these with your doctor.
 
For sports people - a lot of water is lost during intense exercise, replacing just water and not sodium can impact negatively on blood plasma.
 
In 2008, there were two very sad stories of people who died following a substantial increase in water intake, alongside almost total salt restriction, a recipe for disaster even in healthy individuals.
 

Are all Sea Salts the Same?

Absolutely not!  Some might tell you that Sea Salt is no different to table salt; this could not be further from the truth. And ordinary sea salts are nothing like real sea salt.
 
Inferior sea salts are industrially processed and stripped of many minerals; but there is a region in France that has been designated a national shrine because it produces the most wonderful, real sea salt known to man.
 
The wonders of Celtic Salt have to be tasted to be believed, and there is substantial evidence of the vital contribution this salt can make to health and vitality.
 
One thing we all agree on - the intake of toxic table salt should be considerably reduced for the health of the nation, but not at the expense of one of life's essential nutrients.

Jacques de Langre PhD, a Californian biochemist studied Celtic Salt for over 30 years, his two books “Seasalt’s Hidden Powers” and “Sea Salt, the Vital Spark for Life” are well worth seeking out. You can read an interview with him here
 

The Key Salt Issues

  • Eliminate processed foods from the diet
  • Moderation, not low salt
  • Real salt, not chemical sodium chloride
  • Reconnecting with our food

 

What's the right amount?

Your body needs a minimum of 1.6g of salt per day to maintain good health and vitality.  Government guidelines suggest a maximum of 6g of salt per day - that's about a teaspoonful. Anything over this is considered a high daily salt intake (of refined salt).  The average daily salt intake in the UK is currently 9.6g.  But if you make your salt REAL SALT at this amount, then you get the best possible results for health.

 

Salt intake for children?

As a guideline for children - babies should have no added salt, toddlers no more than 2g a day, those aged 4 - 6 should consume no more than 3g, and no more than 5g for older children - these are maximums, not daily requirements; children need around 0.7g of salt a day for good health.

 

Understanding labels

Labelling can be confusing. Some product labels show sodium content, some salt, some both. If sodium only is shown, multiply the sodium content (per 100g) by 2.5 to reach the approximate amount of salt.  0.5g or more of sodium per 100g is a high level of salt, below 0.5g is moderate and 0.1g is low

 

Sources of salt in the diet

For most people, 10-15% of daily salt intake comes from the amount naturally present in foods.  A further 10-15% is added at the table or in cooking.   As much as 75% of (toxic) salt consumed daily is from processed foods and this is the area we need to address (and not just because of the salt).

 

Some of the Processed Food Culprits

  • Slice of bread - 0.5g
  • Slice of cake - 0.3g
  • Serving of cereal - 0.7g
  • Ready meals - 2g (often much more)
  • Takeaway meal - 3 - 6g
  • Supermarket sandwich - 2g
  • Rasher of bacon - 0.75g
  • Pork sausage - 1.2g
  • Portion of baked beans - 1.5g
  • Portion of tinned soup - 1.7g
  • Portion of oven chips - 0.5g
  • Slice of pizza - 2.4g
  • Packet of crisps - 0.5g
  • 15ml tomato ketchup - 0.5g

 

Easy to see then how the modern diet has led to many people consuming an incredibly high salt diet. The key is eliminating processed foods as far as possible from the diet. Keep food real and fresh for optimum health.
Switch to healthy Celtic Salt and you will enjoy far reaching benefits, and this is a salt that can be used in smaller amounts but with more taste!

References

Sea Salts Hidden Powers, Jaques de Langre

Sodium intake and mortality in the NHANES II follow-up study.
Cohen HW, Hailpern SM, Fang J, Alderman MH

European Geriatrics Congress: Low Salt Diet A Danger For Elderly, Professor Ingo Füsgen From The Department Of Geriatrics At The University Of Witten-Herdecke In Germany

Swales J. Salt and High Blood Pressure: A Study in Education, Persuasion and Naïveté. A Diet of Reason. Social Affairs Unit, 1986

M O’Donnell et al. Risk factors for ischaemic and intracerebral haemorrhagic stroke in 22 countries (the INTERSTROKE study): a case-control study. 2010.The Lancet, 376:9735,112 - 123

2 Thrift AG, Srikanth VK, Fitzgerald SM, et al. The potential roles of high salt intake and maternal malnutrition in development of hypertension in disadvantaged populations. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol 2010; 37: e78-e90. CrossRef | PubMed

3. In animals, maternal macro- and micronutrient malnutrition can lead to reduced nephron endowment. Nephron deficiency, in turn, can render blood pressure salt sensitive. The combination of nephron deficiency and excessive salt intake will predispose to hypertension.

Effects of Sodium Restrictionon Blood Pressure, Renin, Aldosterone,Catecholamines, Cholesterols,and Triglyceride
A Meta-analysis. Niels A. Graudal, MD; Anders M. Galløe, MD; Peter Garred, DrMedSci

Nutritional consequences of reducing sodium intake.
Engstrom AM, Tobelmann RC.

On the assertion that a moderate restriction of sodium intake may have adverse health effects.
de Wardener HE, Kaplan NM.

 

 

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