It was reported in the news this week that devotees of Heinz HP sauce were complaining bitterly about the new lower salt recipe. They said it tasted disgusting, bland and sickly. It just shows how much people rely on the the taste of salt and prompted me to write this article about how to detox salt from your body.
Why would you want to detox salt?
Although we need a certain amount of salt every day to stay healthy too much can be bad for you. Salt or sodium is the major alkaline mineral of the fluid that bathes every cell in your body. It helps to controls the fluid balance and together with the minerals calcium, magnesium and potassium it is needed for the electrical impulses that control your nerves and muscles.
Doctors and other health officials have been telling us for years to reduce our salt intake. In fact, it was as a result of UK Government health guidelines that prompted the American makers of HP sauce to reduce the amount of salt it contained by a third.
Studies have shown that too much salt in your diet is linked to many health problems such as high blood pressure (hypertension), stomach cancer, water retention, kidney damage and osteoporosis. It can even worsen asthma.
Excess salt prevents insulin doing its job so sugar builds up in the blood, damaging vessels and making it difficult for fat-burning oxygen to flow to cells and melt away fat.
Dr Gerson on salt
Dr Max Gerson, renowned for treating people with cancer with intensive vegetable juicing, a high vegetable diet and coffee enemas discovered that patients with chronic degenerative disease had a marked loss of potassium and an increase of sodium (salt) in their cells.
He maintained that this brought about the loss of vital enzyme function in the cells. He strongly recommended a salt free diet to eliminate the excess sodium in the cells. He observed that patients with TB, cancer and other chronic diseases started to detox salt after 3 days on a salt free diet.
How much salt do you need?
Authorities vary as to how much they say we need. Some say that an average adult only needs about 500 mg a day while others say about 1 to 2 grams is needed. Over the years our salt consumption has increased dramatically and the intake of most people today is more like 10 to 12 grams a day. I teaspoon of salt is about 6 grams but that of course includes the weight of chloride as salt is sodium chloride. It contains about 2.3 grams pure sodium.
Update (August 21st 2018)
Recent media headlines are now citing that researchers involved in a study published in the Lancet have said that not only is consuming up to two-and-a-half teaspoons (12.5g) of table salt a day safe, it’s positively good for you.
According to Dr Michael Greger, American physician, and professional speaker on public health issues, the media has misreported the
findings. Not only that but that the author, he says, got paid big fees by “Big Salt”.
Others have said that the study design was flawed, and that the evidence for salt causing high blood pressure and that reducing salt intake lowers blood pressure and prevents strokes and heart attacks, is still overwhelming.
Update (July 2021)
As a result of a study published in the European Heart Journal last year which stated that the evidence to recommend low sodium intake was insufficient. Questions are therefore being asked if salt is really bad for us. Even the lead author, who was a staunch supporter of reducing our intake, describes the result as ‘startling’.
Now another study by Professor Messerli and colleagues in Poland, Switzerland and the U.S. compared salt consumption and life expectancy in 181 countries. The researchers found, to their surprise, that life expectancy actually increased with greater salt consumption. It was expected that a diet high in salt would shorten lifespan.
The researchers have not put forward a theory as to why a higher salt diet might increase life expectancy. This is the problem when they look at one item in the diet. It would be interesting to know what sort of diets the people who lived the longest had as well as what sort of lives they lead.
Professor Messerli has refrained from making recommendations based on his findings. He has stated
I hate to have a paper without a take-home message, but it is extremely difficult to make a recommendation. I don’t know if we can say you can save lives by increasing salt intake, although the paper seems to show that.
Certain conditions can result in the loss of too much salt from the body. It can occur from excessive perspiration, vomiting, diarrhea, diuretic medication, burns, and excessive use of saunas.
Why do we eat so much salt?
Salt was originally used as a way of preserving food thousand of years ago. It inhibits the growth of bacteria, yeasts and fungi. People still eat food preserved this way such as beef jerky, salt pork, salt fish, smoked salmon and pickles.
Western scientists have decided that salt is one of our four basic tastes, sweet, sour, bitter and salty. Over the years food manufacturers have increased the use of salt in food to enhance the flavor of their products. Researchers have discovered that salt causes the release of some flavor compounds but suppresses bitter ones.
Salt is added to everything including bread, breakfast cereals, cakes, cookies ( biscuits), sauces, soups, canned food, cheese, salami, sausages, and prepared meals.
One theory is that the excess consumption of sweets, fats, grains, meat and alcohol has unbalanced us so much that we crave salty flavors to counteract the imbalance.
Low zinc & salt
It’s a fact that some people add salt to their food to make it taste. They complain that food does not taste of anything without it. If you are one of these then you may have low zinc levels as this mineral is associated with taste and smell.
So how do you detox salt from your body?
1. Stop eating processed, junk food and salty snacks that are invariably high in salt. Fresh natural food such as fruit, vegetables, free range meat and wild fish contain enough natural sodium for health. The majority of people do not need to add salt to their food.
2. Avoid ready meals high in salt.
3. Become an avid reader of labels. Salt can be disguised as disodium phosphate, monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium alginate, sodium nitrate (or nitrite), sodium benzoate.
4. Increase your intake of fresh vegetables and fruit. The high potassium in fruit and vegetables and their juices will help to push the excess sodium out of your cells.
5. Stop adding salt to your food. Use a salt substitute to start with if you really have to. Salt substitutes usually contain potassium chloride in place of sodium chloride but some still contain sodium chloride. It’s best to reduce it gradually over time.
If you have a health problem like heart failure, kidney failure or diabetes you should ask your doctor before using a potassium salt substitute. Some people with chronic fatigue have been found to benefit from additional salt.
Himalayan salt or Celtic salt is better for you than table salt as it contains other minerals needed for health.
Update (August 21 2018)
Unfortunately it has now been reported that most sea salt contains particles of plastic fiber. I say most as it depends on where it comes from.
However the Real Salt Company say that their Redmond Real Sea Salt “is harvested from an ancient seabed a couple of hours south of Salt Lake City, Utah. The sea existed during the Jurassic Period, long before plastic and other modern pollutants existed, and then receded.”
Similarly, Himalayan salt comes from the Khewra Salt Mines of Pakistan which was formed millions of years ago so should be free of plastic fibers.
6. Drink at least 8 x 8 oz glasses of filtered water a day. Bottled water can be high in sodium so avoid drinking that if you can or choose a low sodium one.
7. Use herbs and spices to make your food tasty without salt. Lemon juice activates the same taste buds as salt so can help improve the taste of food.
8. Exercise to improve circulation. It can help your kidneys get rid of the excess salt.
9. Hang on in there. It can take time for your taste buds to adjust to the salt free diet. Once they do you will find that when you eat out everything tastes far too salty.
If you eat a lot of processed and fast food and add salt to your food your health will benefit from these tips on how to detox salt from your body.