Most animals have an inbuilt desire for salt and this is Nature’s way of making sure that they also get the important trace minerals found in natural salt and necessary to keep them healthy. It is claimed that animals, especially ruminants have such a strong appetite for sodium that the exact location of their salt source is permanently imprinted into their memory which they can then return to when they need it.
DANGERS OF PROCESSED SALT
For us, the situation has become more complicated, because salt is so processed and refined these days that the trace minerals and rare earths are no longer there. Worse, our bodies perceive that we are getting sufficient minerals when we eat processed salt whereas, in fact, we are not. There are some who think that people who continually chew gum, eat sweets, sugar, chocolate, snacks and/or soft drinks do so because they are actually craving minerals. Dr. Wallach, in his book ‘Dead Doctors Don’t Lie’, suggests that smoking and alcohol or drug abuse are also related to the cravings of mineral deficiencies.
VALUE OF ANIMAL SALT BLOCKS
Farmers use salt hunger to make sure their animals have all the trace minerals they need by incorporating these minerals in salt blocks. These salt blocks have to contain at least 85% sodium chloride or the animals will ignore them, even if they have major mineral deficiencies. Dr.Wallach, who spent 30 years as a veterinarian before becoming a doctor, observed that these animals never get high blood pressure even though they consume as much salt as they like. For them, adequate salt intake guarantees proper mineral intake.
Unfortunately for us, the natural craving for salt is still there, even though the trace minerals have been removed. The food industries are well aware of this when they supply salt crisps and salty snacks to pubs. Publicans don’t complain when this encourages their customers to drink more beer!
SALT USED FOR PRESERVING FOOD
The Dutch used the process of salting fish as a method of conservation. At its peak, this industry produced 3 billion salted herring annually, using 123 million kilos of salt per year. At the beginning of the 20th century, salt pork and salt herring provided the main source of animal protein for most of Scandinavia with a daily consumption per person of 100 grams, yet some modern physicians advise their patients to consume less than 3 grams per day.
Salt has played a prominent role in determining the power and location of the world's great cities. Liverpool rose from just a small English port to become the prime port for exporting the salt extracted from the great Cheshire salt mines and thus became the commercial centre for much of the world's salt in the 1800s .
In everyday language we talk of someone being ‘worth their salt’ or ‘the salt of the earth’ and of treasure being ‘salted away’. Ancient communities sprang up around salt springs as humans hunted herbivore animals that were drawn to the area by their craving for salt. Game animals are always found near springs that contain salt and minerals, whereas springs that do not are far less frequented.
During military operations in tropical countries the death of soldiers from sodium loss was not uncommon. It is said that soldiers in the desert can lose as much as 24 pints of water per day as sweat, which includes a loss of 70 to 100 grams of salt. The average salt requirement for a man is about 6 to 10 grams per day. Dr.Wallach believes that if you follow the advice of some ‘experts’ to restrict your salt intake to less than one gram per day, you will increase your risk of a heart attack by 600 per cent.
RISKS ATTACHED TO SALT FREE DIET
In his book ‘Your Body’s Many Cries for Water’, Dr.Batmanghelidj writes that salt is an essential ingredient of the body and claims that ‘a salt free diet is utterly stupid’. In their order of importance, oxygen, water, salt and potassium are the primary elements for the survival of the human body. He goes on to say that about 27 per cent of the salt content of the body is stored in the bones as crystals, and as salt crystals are naturally used to make bones hard, a salt deficiency in the body could be responsible for the development of osteoporosis. Salt is leached out of the bones to maintain the vital normal levels of salt in the blood.
SYMPTOMS OF SALT DEFICIENCY
Cramps in unexercised muscles most often point to a shortage of salt in the body, and according to Dr. Batman, as he is universally known, dizziness and feeling faint can also be indicators of salt and water shortage. Far from restricting salt intake, he advises as a rule of thumb, “for every ten glasses of water, (about 2 quarts, or 2¼litres), one should add to the diet about half a teaspoon (approx 3g) of salt per day.” But he warns that you should always make sure that your kidneys are producing urine or there could be a risk of oedema.
THE CRUCIAL ROLE OF SALT
There is salt in every cell of the body; about 250 grammes (a cupful) in an adult human. This is why tears and sweat taste salty. Salt plays a crucial role in keeping the body functioning properly. During exercise, when feeling hot and during times of physiological changes, such as pregnancy or growing old, its role becomes even more fundamental. Most crucially, it maintains the balance of fluids which carry oxygen and nutrients around the body.
The two elements of salt are sodium and chloride and each plays a variety of important roles in the body.
Contrary to popular belief, salt is not intrinsically harmful. In fact, it is an essential; we must have it. How many times do we hear of people being put on a saline drip to save their lives? During the heatwaves of recent years many people died, often unnecessarily. According to Dr. Wallach, the heatwave of 1993 which affected the upper Midwest and the east coast of America, claimed 733 lives. It transpired that even though half of the dead and those who were sent to hospital had air conditioners, almost all who died during the heatwave were on salt restricted diets. Dr. Wallach is convinced their deaths were caused by a simple salt or sodium deficiency which, in the case of a basic heatstroke, can be easily and quickly remedied with water and salt.
THE PRODUCTION OF SALT
Salt is currently mass produced by evaporation of sea water or brine from other sources, such as brine wells and salt lakes, and by mining rock salt called halite. Another method of extraction of salt from underground beds is by solution mining, using water. In this form of mining, the salt reaches the surface as brine which is then turned into salt crystals by evaporation.
Natural, unprocessed salt in the form of sea salt or rock salt, often sold as ‘sel gris’ meaning grey salt because of its colour, should always be used in the kitchen and at the table as it is more likely to contain the much needed trace minerals and clays. Processed, refined table salt is almost pure sodium chloride, apart from additives to bleach it and make it run freely.
‘Dead Doctors Don’t Lie’ Dr,J.Wallach and Dr.Ma Lan.
‘Your Body’s Many Cries For Water’ Dr. Batmanghelidj
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