and relax muscles. However, over the past few decades, sodium and chloride have gained a bad reputation and have been linked to conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and stomach cancer. As a matter of fact, the most recent Dietary Guidelines for sodium intake to below 2,300 mg daily.
Sodium and chloride are not all bad. In fact, there is evidence that demonstrates that unrefined salt
may affect individuals differently and may not have as much of an impact on heart disease as once believed. Both minerals are essential for human health, as in the right balance they keep our cells in good shape. A healthy cell is permeable. This means that nutrients can be efficiently absorbed into the cell, and likewise the toxic by-products of metabolism can exit the cell efficiently. When the cell is in a healthy condition, the polarity of the cell is precise, meaning there is the right amount of intracellular potassium and magnesium and extracellular sodium and calcium. When the cell is healthy, a person functions optimally, both physically and emotionally. When the cell is open and permeable, you feel happy, energetic, and optimistic.
Dietary sodium is found in many vegetables, including spinach, chard, carrots, celery, beets, and tomatoes, seaweed and meat. It is also found in processed foods, like cold cuts and prepackaged foods. Both sodium and chloride are also found in salt. Refined salt such as table salt has been stripped of all but two minerals and contains harmful additives such as aluminum silicate, a toxic chemical found in a UK study to be the primary cause of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
On the other hand, natural unrefined salt or Himalayan salt supplies the body with over eighty essential minerals. It helps stabilize irregular heart rate, regulates blood pressure, and extracts excess acidity from cells in the body (particularly brain cells). Additionally, balances blood sugar levels, clears lungs of excess mucus (particularly in asthma and cystic fibrosis), and clears sinus congestion. It is a natural antihistamine, regulates sleep, prevents muscle cramps, contributes to firm bones, helps prevent gout and gouty arthritis, is essential for maintaining sexual libido, and helps prevent varicose veins.
Your body needs chloride and sodium to function, but too little or too much can be harmful to your health. Unfortunately, our society consumes too much sodium, particularly in the form of processed foods, which account for a 77% of sodium found in the average diet. Most people’s intake is so high that the kidneys have trouble keeping up with the excess in the bloodstream. As sodium accumulates, the body holds onto water to dilute the sodium. This increases both the volume of fluid and blood in the bloodstream. Increased blood volume means more work for the heart and more pressure on blood vessels. Over time, the extra work and stress can stiffen blood vessels, leading to high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and heart failure. There is also some indication that too much salt (chloride), in particular, table salt (refined), can be harmful to the bones and can damage the heart, aorta, and kidneys even without increasing blood pressure.
Although a high salt intake has been linked to several health conditions, a diet too low in salt can be detrimental to your health:
Sodium deficiency is very rare and is usually a sign of an underlying disorder. It can also be caused by:
Until next week,
Dr. Toni is a Best-selling author, Holistic Health Practitioner (HHP) & Registered Herbalist in San Diego, California. She holds a PhD in psychology, and a Clinical Herbalist Certificate, an HHP certificate and is a Certified Trainer in the Success Principles. In private practice as a HHP she has been influenced by a variety of clinical modalities and orientations, and by the diverse life experiences of her clients. Toni’s approach to healing is holistic & transpersonal. In her work, she integrates the principles of Eastern and Western nutrition, herbololgy, energy medicine, Buddhist mindfulness and personal counseling to assist others in working through their physical or emotional blocks to attain optimal health.