Without salt, life cannot exist. Our bodies utilize salt for a variety of essential, life-preserving functions, as do most land and marine animals on earth. The health benefits of salt may be murky at times and filled with conflicting information, but there’s no denying it’s good for our bodies.
Salt, in moderation, can help a wide variety of bodily functions and is necessary in maintaining a healthy balance of many vital elements. According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control, ingesting too much salt – as well as too little salt – can result in significantly higher risks of heart disease, strokes, heart attacks and congestive heart failure.
The report found the sweet spot to be between 3,000 milligrams and 7,000 milligrams.
That’s a radical departure from the prevailing historical and conventional dietary talking points about salt that suggests a daily limit of 2,300 milligrams; and 1,500 milligrams for a low-salt diet. Those figures still hold true as far as the U.S. Dietary Guidelines go.
Those findings will no doubt come under continued scrutiny and you should consult your doctor for all health and dietary issues, but there are a few health benefits of salt that don’t come with a controversial asterisk.
So, what does salt do? And how important is it to good health?
Salt Helps the Body Regulate Fluids
Two of the key electrolytes the body craves are sodium and chloride. Salt and sodium are not synonymous. Salt contains about 40% sodium and the body uses these two electrolytes to regulate our fluid levels. We lose salt through normal daily activities and when the body craves more fluids, we become thirsty.
Salt Helps Muscle Contraction
Salt helps fire electrical impulses in the nerves that stimulate muscle contraction. The reason athletes consume drinks high in electrolytes (sodium and chloride) is that they help with hydration, but also help prevent muscle cramping. Salt also helps guard against sunstroke during hot weather.
Salt Aids in Digestion
From the first taste on your tongue to your stomach, salt helps aid with the digestion and absorption of food. Salt helps activate enzymes in the mouth and creates hydrochloric acid in the stomach.
Salt is an Antihistamine
Natural sea salt can be a powerful natural antihistamine. Some studies have found it helps relieve symptoms caused by allergies.
Salt Can Aid Respiratory Functions
Consuming sea salt can help clear up sinuses and provide some relief for asthma sufferers. If you’re experiencing excess mucous and phlegm, salt can help clear it up and provide natural relief for that as well.
Salt Can Help with Mild Depression
Some studies have indicated that a salt depletion or deficit in the body can lead to fatigue and depression-related symptoms. In those studies, a simple salt pill typically remedied the symptoms in short order. Salt shouldn’t be confused with being a treatment or a cure for depression, but if you’re having a sluggish or down day, try a jolt of something salty and see if it helps.
Salt is Good for the Skin
The minerals in unrefined sea salt have been shown to help maintain healthy skin. Both internally and externally, salt has been used to successfully treat such skin conditions as eczema and psoriasis.
Salt Helps Enhance Food
OK. This last one really isn’t a true health benefit, but it could be. When used properly in moderation, high-quality sea salts can instantly transform a dish from ordinary to extraordinary with a simple finishing pinch. You can use them to add texture, appealing colour, and enhance flavour to almost any dish in the kitchen. And eating well is a great benefit.