Salt: The Missing Mineral
Salt is a fear factor for countless people I’ve talked to over my years of food experimentation. The majority vote is that it makes you puffy, bloated and totally dehydrated. There is some truth in this: If you eat excessive amounts of salt, it’s likely that you won’t feel – or look – so great.
This dietary fear factor has been taken to the extreme, with popular completely salt-free diets and even salt substitutes. Gasp. I can’t imagine what type of horrendous chemical comprises that substance – no, I haven’t checked and don’t plan to, so don’t ask me. I am curious, but the need to protect my sanity and faith in humans dominates. So I just stick to Maldon. You dig?
If you’ve ever stuck to a low-salt or salt-free diet – against your taste buds’ cries – read on for all the reasons you should indulge in the white stuff – in moderation, of course.
- Adrenal function. Salt supports your adrenal glands, the peanut-shaped glands that sit on top of your kidneys. The adrenals are responsible for releasing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. The main problem is that they don’t know whether you’re getting chased by a bear, or dealing with a combative coworker and long meetings all day. Either way, they secrete cortisol, which puts your body in a state of stress, leading to chronic fatigue, inflammation, weight retention, depression and so much more.
- Digestion. Salt plays a key role in breaking down your food. It activates salivary amylase in your mouth, which starts working on your food immediately – the first step in the digestive process. Salt then creates hydrochloric acid in the stomach, crucial to moving everything through your body. Yep.
- Hydration. In extremely hot climates, dehydration is very common. The cure? Salt. Hot climate or not, if you’re deficient in sodium, you’re likely to exhibit signs of dehydration, like low blood pressure. If salt intake drops significantly, blood pressure drops quickly and we’re left feeling totally weak, listless, fatigued and apathetic. How can we take over the world with all that going on? Keep your salt on lock!
- Electrolytes. Your body relies on electrical impulses to know what to do. The brain sends your internal organs messages, telling you you’re thirsty and should drink water, shouting at you to remove your hand from a hot pan handle, and nudging you to run far away when that guy gets super grabby on the first date. Ok, not sure about the last one, but you get the gist.
- Prevents muscle cramping. Adequate salt in the diet prevents muscle cramping, especially when you’ve been hitting the gym or the barre extra hard. Charley horse? You’re probably missing this essential mineral.
And the number one reason to eat salt, that trumps all? Satisfaction.
Having beautiful, nourishing food experiences is so important for your body, soul and psyche. I know it’s judgmental, but I feel like salt-haters must have cold souls. I just don’t get it. Everyone can appreciate a properly salted dish, and it should be a requirement in all homes and dining establishments.
Case closed, salt is gold. I’m not saying eat the stuff straight, but I definitely encourage you to sprinkle a bit on most things – the super high-quality Maldon flakes are my favorite. Imbibe away, and tell those low-sodium groupies to beat it, as you sprinkle your eggs with Himalayan salt with a sly look in your eyes and a perfect swipe of red lipstick.
Bisous and bon appétit, hot stuff!