How much do you love salty foods? The fact that you’ve clicked on this blog post tells me you’re at least a bit of a fan :)
When you put a salty bit of loveliness (maybe a favourite potato chip?) into your mouth, does your whole body light up? Does it just taste SOOOO good? Like the best. food. ever.
If you answered yes to any of these questions then you’re definitely a salt craver…and I have a bit of VERY good news for you.
You need to eat more salt. Yes, you really do.
Your brain might be fighting back and saying NO! Salt is bad for my heart! I’ve spent my life saying no to wonderfully salty foods for my own good! Salt is bad for me!
Yes, we’ve been told that for a loooong time. “A healthy diet is low in sodium”. And there is some merit to that.
A diet low in refined sodium that is found in processed food IS good for you. But, that benefit has more to do with the refinement of table salt AND the types of over-processed inflammatory foods it’s found in then just reducing salt in your diet.
But…sea salt** sprinkled generously on a plate of beautifully unprocessed whole foods, like veggies, IS very healthy.
And, since you’re currently reading a blog post by a Holistic Nutritionist, then you probably fall into 1 of 2 categories; a) you already eat lots of whole foods, or b) you’d like to eat more whole foods and are looking for info on how.
Unless your taste buds are skewed by daily visits to a fast food joint, your body will ask for exactly the amount of salt (sea salt**, always sea salt) that your body wants. AND! By giving your body this incredibly important nutrient in your regular diet, you’ll probably find your cravings for salty processed food goes down quickly.
(well, potato chips ARE heavenly…so you’ll still like them, but your dreams of diving head first into a bag will lessen A LOT).
What we’ve been told was wrong…
I get it, it’s hard to erase years/decades of anti-salt rhetoric and change your very rational, health-seeking mind in just a few sentences. Recently, there have been a bunch of studies proving – salt in the diet is good for you AND an unnecessary low-salt diet can be harmful.
And, if you’d like to learn more about the healing powers of salt, check out this post by renowned women’s health expert, Dr. Christiane Northrup.
You could also look to your body for other symptoms of too little salt in your diet (other than just plain ol’ cravings), like – dehydration, muscle cramps, headaches, weakness, irritability, and poor sleep.
As well, salt cravings also come alongside anxiety and adrenal fatigue. If you’ve been feeling extra-specially exhausted lately, take my quick quiz to see how your adrenals are doing (and enjoy more salt :)
GIANT caveat – If you’ve been put on a low salt diet by your GP, cardiologist, or any other practitioner, then FOLLOW THEIR ADVICE and ignore this post altogether. This info is only for those following a low salt diet unnecessarily.
What happens if we deny our cravings?
If you’re still feeling a bit wary about eating more salt, let me paint a common salt-craving picture for you –
Craving denied -
You’ve made a beautiful veggie-filled meal, using just a sprinkle of salt (because that’s “healthy”). You enjoy it…but it’s not fully satisfying.
A few days (or a few weeks) later, you’re still feeling unsatisfied and then you see it…your favourite salty snack. You try to say no…but you’ve been saying no so much lately and now you’re just plain tired.
So you grab that salty snack and the first bite is magical. Before you know it you’ve (guiltily) eaten the whole bag/package.
Unfortunately, the amount of table salt you’ve just enjoyed was probably more sodium than you would have added on your own (and in a processed form of salt).
Craving enjoyed –
You’ve made a beautiful veggie-filled meal and generously added as much unprocessed sea salt that your taste buds enjoy. You enjoy every darn bite of it.
A few days (or weeks) later you see your favourite salty treat. You take a bite…it tastes pretty good. But a few bites will do it. Craving solved.
I’ve painted this picture for you because I see this almost every day with my clients and I’d like to give you a different option. Instead of reducing your salt intake, try looking at your salt cravings as a part of your healing (WOO! :).
Table salt vs. Sea Salt
The difference between these two foods is similar to the difference between refined white sugar and maple syrup.
Table Salt*** – is highly processed with few trace minerals left. The high heat process to make table salt causes the sodium and chloride (they make up salt) to get stuck together and are hard to break apart. And it’s about 97 – 99% sodium chloride
Sea Salt** – is a whole food form of salt, containing a huge array of trace minerals (including calcium, potassium, and iodine). It’s easy to digest and breakdown and contains about 85% sodium chloride.
These are VERY different foods :)
3 ways to use sea salt for your healing –
1. Notice your salt cravings –
When do you feel them? Do they increase when you’re feeling extra stress? Do you have more salt cravings when you’re feeling more anxious?
2. Experiment with a bit more salt added to your food –
How does it taste? How do you feel? How’s your energy? How’s your anxiety?
Try it for a week or two and see how you feel. Your body always knows what’s healing :).
3. Try adding some sea salt to your water, esp if you’re feeling anxious or dehydrated –
Water follows salt, so the best way to rehydrate quickly is by adding some sea salt to your water. Start with a pinch and go from there. If you need it it’ll taste like the most refreshing glass of water you’ve ever had. It’s glorious.
And most importantly, let’s stop vilifying salt. It’s not a villain, it’s just food, and it’s healing. Your body is telling you so :). Try it out for a bit and see how you feel!
Have you been adding more salt to your life and feeling better? Tell me all about it in the comments below :)
**Himalayan salt and all other types of unprocessed salt falls under the category of “sea salt”.
***If you’re using table salt for its iodine content, sea salt does contain some iodine (in a much nicer form), but a kelp or iodine supplement would be better if you need a good dose. Table salt’s iodine isn’t a good source.