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SALT of the Earth

Both sea salt and rock salt were well known to the ancient Greeks who noted that eating salty food affected basic body functions such as digestion and excretion (urine and stools). This led to salt being used medically. The healing methods of Hippocrates (460 BC) especially made frequent use of salt. Salt-based remedies were thought to have expectorant powers. A mixture of water, salt, and vinegar was employed as an emetic. Drinking a mixture of two-thirds cow’s milk and one-third salt-water, in the mornings, on an empty stomach was recommended as a cure for diseases of the spleen. A mixture of salt and honey was applied topically to clean bad ulcers and salt-water was used externally against skin diseases and freckles. Hippocrates also mentions inhalation of steam from salt-water. We know today that the antiinflammatory effects of inhaled salt provide relief from respiratory symptoms (c). Thus, 2000 years ago, Greek medicine had already discovered topical use of salt for skin lesions, drinking salty or mineralized waters for digestive troubles and inhaling salt for respiratory diseases!

The doctor and alchemist Paracelsus (1493–1541 A.D.) introduced an entirely new medical concept. He believed that external factors create disease and conceived a chemically oriented medical system which contrasted with the prevalent herbal medicine. Only salted food could be digested properly: “The human being must have salt, he cannot be without salt. Where there is no salt, nothing will remain, but everything will tend to rot.” He recommended salt water for the treatment of wounds and for use against intestinal worms. A hip-bath in salt water was a superb remedy for skin diseases and itching: “This brine – he said – is better than all the health spas arising out of nature.” He described the diuretic effect of salt consumption and prescribed salt preparations of different strengths that were used for instance against constipation.

If the body does not get enough salt, a hormonal mechanism compensates by reducing the excretion of salt in the urine and sweat. But it cannot reduce this output to zero. On a completely salt-free diet the body steadily loses small amounts of salt via the kidneys and sweat glands. It then attempts to adjust this by accelerating its secretion of water, so that the blood’s salt concentration can be maintained at the vital level. The result is a gradual desiccation of the body and finally death.”

An eight-year study of a New York City hypertensive population stratified for sodium intake levels found those on low-salt diets had more than four times as many heart attacks as those on normal-sodium diets – the exact opposite of what the “salt hypothesis” would have predicted. (1995). Dr. Jeffrey R. Cutler documented no health outcomes benefits of lower-sodium diets.

The past president of the American Heart Association, Dr. Suzanne Oparil of the University of Alabama-Birmingham, said her personal view is that the government may have been too quick to recommend that everyone cut back. “Salt restriction as a solitary recommendation for the population for the prevention or the treatment of hypertension

The seawater has 84 chemical elements. For our body to be healthy we need all those elements. When we use the common salt, we are in deficit of 81 elements which means we are somehow contributing to becoming weaker, imbalanced and more susceptible to diseases. Use the seawater salt.

When we drink enough water to pass clear urine, we also pass out a lot of the salt that was held back. This is how we can get rid of edema fluid in the body; by drinking more water. Not diuretics, but more water!! In people who have an extensive edema and show signs of their heart beginning to have irregular or very rapid beats with least effort, the increase in water intake should be gradual and spaced out, but not withheld from the body. Naturally, salt intake should be limited for two or three days because the body is still in an overdrive mode to retain it. Once the edema has cleared up, salt should not be withheld from the body

Salt has many other functions than just regulating the water content of the body. Here are some of the more vital functions of salt in the body:

1. Salt is most effective in stabilizing irregular heartbeats and, Contrary to the misconception that it causes high blood pressure, it is actually essential for the regulation of blood pressure – in conjunction with water. Naturally the proportions are critical.

2. Salt is vital to the extraction of excess acidity from the cells in the body, particularly the brain cells.

3. Salt is vital for balancing the sugar levels in the blood; a needed element in diabetics.

4. Salt is vital for the generation of hydroelectric energy in cells in the body. It is used for local power generation at the sites of energy need by the cells.

5. Salt is vital to the nerve cells’ communication and information processing all the time that the brain cells work, from the moment of conception to death.

6. Salt is vital for absorption of food particles through the intestinal tract.

7. Salt is vital for the clearance of the lungs of mucus plugs and sticky phlegm, particularly in asthma and cystic fibrosis.

8. Salt is vital for clearing up catarrh and congestion of the sinuses.

9. Salt is a strong natural antihistamine.

10. Salt is essential for the prevention of muscle cramps.

11. Salt is vital to prevent excess saliva production to the point that it flows out of the mouth during sleep. Needing to constantly mop up excess saliva indicates salt shortage.

12. Salt is absolutely vital to making the structure of bones firm. Osteoporosis, in a major way, is a result of salt and water shortage in the body.

13. Salt is vital for sleep regulation. It is a natural hypnotic.

14. Salt is a vitally needed element in the treatment of diabetics.

15. Salt on the tongue will stop persistent dry coughs.

16. Salt is vital for the prevention of gout and gouty arthritis.

17. Salt is vital for maintaining sexuality and libido.

18. Salt is vital for preventing varicose veins and spider veins on the legs and thighs.

19. Salt is vital to the communication and information processing nerve cells the entire time that the brain cells work – from the moment of conception to death.

20. Salt is vital for reducing a double chin. When the body is short of salt, it means the body really is short of water. The salivary glands sense the salt shortage and are obliged to produce more saliva to lubricate the act of chewing and swallowing and also to supply the stomach with water that it needs for breaking down foods. Circulation to the salivary glands increases and the blood vessels become “leaky” in order to supply the glands with water to manufacture saliva. The “leakiness” spills beyond the area of the glands themselves, causing increased bulk under the skin of the chin, the cheeks and into the neck.

21. Sea salt contains about 80 mineral elements that the body needs. Some of these elements are needed in trace amounts. Unrefined sea salt is a better choice of salt than other types of salt on the market. Ordinary table salt that is bought in the super markets has been stripped of its companion elements and contains additive elements such as aluminum silicate to keep it powdery and porous. Aluminum is a very toxic element in our nervous system. It is implicated as one of the primary causes of Alzheimer’s disease.

22. Twenty-seven percent of the body’s salt is in the bones. Osteoporosis results when the body needs more salt and takes it from the body. Bones are twenty-two percent water. Is it not obvious what happens to the bones when we’re deficient in salt or water or both.

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Study questions benefits of low salt diet, experts quick to dismiss
Research suggesting a low salt diet may increase the risks of cardiovascular disease has questioned current drives to reduce salt intakes, however experts from the UK and US have been quick to dismiss the study as ‘flawed’.
The new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), examined health outcomes related to salt intake, including the incidence of death, illness and hypertension in relation to measures of urinary sodium excretion. —The research reported that lower sodium excretion was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular death, while higher sodium excretion did not correspond with increased risk of hypertension or cardiovascular disease complications. Speaking to FoodNavigator on behalf of Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), Professor Graham MacGregor said that the observational study “is extremely paradoxical, suggesting that salt puts up blood pressure yet relates inversely to cardiovascular events – even though it is known that raised blood pressure is the biggest risk factor for cardiovascular disease, accounting for approximately 62 per cent of strokes and 49 per cent of all heart disease.” —“The associations between systolic pressure and sodium excretion did not translate into less morbidity or improved survival … On the contrary, low sodium excretion predicted higher cardiovascular mortality,” said the researchers, led by Dr Katarzyna Stolarz-Skrzypek of the University of Leuven, Belgium. —“Taken together, our current findings refute the estimates of computer models of lives saved and health care costs reduced with lower salt intake … They do also not support the current recommendations of a generalized and indiscriminate reduction of salt intake at the population level,” they added.

Controversy

The new JAMA study has already come in for some criticism. Prof MacGregor, of the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, and chairman of CASH explained that the paper has “what appear to be severe methodological problems”, adding that “it is difficult to critically assess this paper.” –In addition, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) felt so strongly that the study was flawed that they criticized it in an interview with the New York Times – something they normally do not do. –Dr. Peter Briss, medical director at the CDC, told the NY Times that it is hard to draw any conclusions from the study given its relatively small size, and use of relatively young participants. —MacGregor and Briss both highlighted that the study goes against a raft of evidence showing that salt reduction is beneficial to the general population. –[U1]“This paper does not provide any substantiated evidence to the contrary,” said MacGregor, whilst Briss added that the study “might need to be taken with a grain of salt.” –“There is no evidence that a modest reduction in population salt intake has any harmful effects on health, as such salt reduction is the simplest and most cost-effective method of reducing cardiovascular disease next to tobacco reduction,” added MacGregor.

Study details

The researchers’ studied data from a prospective population study, involving 3681 participants without cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Among the 3681 participants followed, CVD deaths decreased with increasing measures of 24-hour sodium excretion, from 50 deaths in the lowest group, to 24 for medium excretion, and 10 in the highest excretion group.

“Lower sodium excretion was associated with higher CVD mortality,” said Dr Stolarz-Skrzypek and colleagues; noting that this inverse association between sodium excretion levels and death from CVD was statistically significant. –The researchers added that systolic blood pressure, but not diastolic pressure, changes over time aligned with changes in sodium excretion, “but this association did not translate into a higher risk of hypertension or CVD complications.” —“It is unlikely that these findings were due to reverse causality because we excluded patients with a history of CVD … Moreover, these observations were consistent when we censored cardiovascular deaths over a time span ranging from 6 to 21 years, or excluded cardiovascular deaths occurring within 3 years of enrolment,” they explained.

Source: Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)
Volume 305, Issue 17, Pages 1777-1785, doi:10.1001/jama.2011.574
“Fatal and Nonfatal Outcomes, Incidence of Hypertension, and Blood Pressure Changes in Relation to Urinary Sodium Excretion”
Authors: K. Stolarz-Skrzypek, T. Kuznetsova, L. Thijs, V. Tikhonoff, et al

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Consumption of ‘Good Salt’ Can Reduce Population Blood Pressure Levels

ScienceDaily (Sep. 15, 2010) — An increased intake of ‘good’ potassium salts could contribute significantly to improving blood pressure at the population level, according to new research. The favourable effect brought about by potassium is even estimated to be comparable with the blood pressure reduction achievable by halving the intake of ‘bad’ sodium salts (mostly from table salt).—–Those are the conclusions drawn by Linda van Mierlo and her colleagues at Wageningen University, part of Wageningen UR, and Unilever in their investigation of the consumption of potassium in 21 countries. An article describing their findings appears in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.—The risk of developing cardiovascular diseases rises as blood pressure increases. In Western countries only 20-30% of the population has ‘optimal’ blood pressure, with the systolic (maximum) pressure being lower than 120 mm Hg and the diastolic (minimum) pressure lower than 80 mm Hg. Blood pressure increases with age in most people. Men more often have a higher blood pressure than women.—Diet and lifestyle plays an important role in managing blood pressure. High intakes of sodium and low intakes of potassium have unfavorable effects on blood pressure. Therefore, reducing the consumption of sodium and increasing the consumption of potassium are both good ways to improve blood pressure.[U2]–The study carried out by food researchers from the Human Nutrition department at Wageningen University and from the Nutrition & Health department at Unilever demonstrates that the average potassium intake in 21 countries including the US, China, New Zealand, Germany and the Netherlands varies between 1.7 and 3.7 g a day. This is considerably lower than the 4.7 g a day, which has been recommended based on the positive health effects observed at this level of intake.—[U3]—A hypothetical increase in the potassium intake to the recommended level would reduce the systolic blood pressure in the populations of these countries by between 1.7 and 3.2 mm Hg. This corresponds with the reduction that would occur if Western consumers were to take in 4 g of salt less per day. The intakes of both potassium and sodium are therefore of importance in preventing high blood pressure.—Earlier studies have shown that salt reduction of 3 g per day in food could reduce blood pressure and prevent 2500 deaths per year due to cardiovascular diseases in the Netherlands.[U4] In Western countries, salt consumption can be as high as 9-12 g a day whereas 5 g is the recommended amount according to WHO standards.[U5] Most household salt is to be found in processed foods such as bread, ready-made meals, soups, sauces and savoury snacks and pizzas. An effective way of increasing potassium intake is to follow the guidelines for healthy nutrition more closely, including a higher consumption of vegetables and fruit. In addition, the use of mineral salts in processed foods — by which sodium is partly replaced by potassium — would contribute to an improved intake of both sodium and potassium.

Story Source–The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Wageningen University and Research Centre, via AlphaGalileo. Journal Reference-Linda A. J. van Mierlo; Arno Greyling; Peter L. Zock; Frans J. Kok; Johanna M. Geleijnse. Suboptimal Potassium Intake and Potential Impact on Population Blood Pressure. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2010; 170 (16): 1501-1502 DOI: 10.1001/archinternmed.2010.284

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