Salt has gotten some bad press, but you might be surprised to learn that salt is actually good for you. In fact, the health benefits of salt point to it being a crucial nutrient for improved health and wellbeing.
3 Surprising Health Benefits of Salt
So, is salt good for you or not? Should we worry about reducing our salt intake to stay healthy?
The truth is that for most people, salt can (and should) be part of a healthy diet without issue. If your doctor has advised you to cut down on salt because of a health condition, then it’s best to listen.
But research shows this advice can’t just be applied across the board. In fact, studies like this one show that reducing sodium only helps people with specific health conditions who were also eating very high sodium diets.
Here are just a few of the reasons salt can actually be good for you:
1. Salt Lowers the Body’s Stress Levels and Helps You Sleep
There’s a reason we crave salty foods when we’re stressed: salt can actually help reduce our stress levels. Research shows that sodium can help lower stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. This helps calm the nervous system and get us out of the dreaded fight-or-flight mode that leaves us tense, irritable, and exhausted.
If you have poor adrenal function, then salt intake can be truly helpful in recovering. Often those with adrenal fatigue experience low blood pressure, which contributes to feeling lethargic and depressed. As an electrolyte, sodium helps balance our blood pressure and maintain water balance, which is incredibly important if you’ve been experiencing adrenal fatigue.
On a similar note, because salt can help down regulate stress levels, eating enough salt can actually help you sleep better! If you find yourself tossing and turning or waking up between 2-4am, elevated stress hormones could be the culprit. Consuming salt sole water throught the day just might be what you need to get a good night’s rest.
2. Salt Helps Regulate Insulin and Blood Sugar Levels
Sodium plays a key role in metabolic processes in the body, including blood sugar regulation. We actually need a healthy amount of sodium in the blood to keep our blood sugar and insulin levels where they should be.
Studies like this one reveal that restricting sodium actually increases insulin resistance in otherwise healthy individuals. Insulin resistance means that cells in your muscles, fat, and liver aren’t responding properly to insulin. This causes our blood sugar to go haywire! In the long run, insulin resistance is linked to diabetes and other metabolic conditions.
3. Salt Makes Healthy Food Taste Delicious
It’s pretty simple: salt is yummy! I’ve always believed that eating healthy, nourishing food should be an enjoyable experience. The more we enjoy our food, the easier it is to stick to good habits and reach for the healthy stuff when it’s time for meals or snacks.
Salt plays a crucial role in making food taste even better. It brings life to seasonings and herbs. It makes healthy eating more palatable (quite literally!). It’s way better to season your nourishing meals with sea salt or Himalayan salt than it is to try to avoid sodium until you’re craving it so much you end up devouring an entire bag of potato chips!
Context means everything when it comes to eating salt. Eating salt as part of a nourishing, balanced meal is completely different than eating a highly processed frozen dinner with tons of added monosodium glutamate, trans fats, and processed sugars.
In addition to its unique health benefits, salt also makes sticking to a nourishing diet more sustainable. This, to me, is a pretty important benefit!
Varieties of Unrefined Salt
I first began learning about the importance of salt from the Weston A. Price Foundation and their Characteristics of Traditional Diets. Refined salt lacks many minerals that the body needs in order to function optimally so I favor unrefined, natural salt with a proper balance of sodium and chloride and 60 - 80 trace minerals. You might try Saltworks Himalayan pink salt, Redmond Real salt, Selina Naturally Celtic sea salt, Crucial FOUR Icelandic flake salt. or Maldon sea salt flakes. Let me know how you like them!
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