Salt of the Earth
by Rick Fisk
by Rick Fisk
the medical establishment has been asserting that salt is the cause
of America's hypertension epidemic. In spite of contrary evidence,
even from amongst its own ranks, the establishment is slow to revise
its view and thus millions of Americans gladly reduce their salt
intake to avoid its alleged dangers.
are recent peer-reviewed studies which challenge the establishment
view, it should also be noted that refined salt found in the majority
of salt shakers in America is not the same salt valued and used
by human beings from the dawn of our existence. The most common
table salt comes in two varieties, iodized salt (sodium chloride
with added iodine) and non-iodized (sodium chloride). Neither of
these resemble salt found in the "wild" or in salt produced
using ancient methods. Table salt is refined using sea water, but
any similarity to sea salt ends there.
table salt comes from the same batch as vacuum refined industrial
salt, it is treated with caustic soda or lime to remove all traces
of magnesium salts."
Jacques Delangre, Seasalt's
Iodine is usually
added to salt as potassium iodate or potassium iodide. The purpose
of its addition was to prevent goiter. Salt was chosen as the medium
since everyone in America uses salt (much like vitamin D was added
to milk as a convenient medium). The addition of iodine to salt
was a government mandate (now in over 100 countries world wide)
based on alarming rates of iodine deficiencies reported in the early
part of the 20th century. Studies have shown that the potassium
iodate added to synthetic salt is rapidly lost
over time due to its relative instability. Iodine in its natural
form is found in seaweed, sea salt, seafood, any vegetable grown
in iodine-rich soil and many varieties of nuts grown in iodine rich
soils. It may have been much healthier to add iodine to soil then
it was to force Morton and other companies to fortify salt. On the
other hand, the major salt manufacturers, in the attempt to make
table salt 'pretty' were removing the beneficial elements in sea
salt that make it so important a nutrient, including iodine. If
you examine the practices of food processing companies in detail,
you might just give up your potato chips, but salt refinement is
in its own class.
discussions of salt ignore the issue of salt processing. Few people
realize that our salt – like our sugar, flour and vegetable oils
– is highly refined; it is the product of a chemical and high-temperature
industrial process that removes all the valuable magnesium salts
as well as trace minerals naturally occurring in the sea.
the natural iodine salts that are removed during processing, potassium
iodide is added in amounts that can be toxic. To stabilize the
volatile iodide compound, processors add dextrose which turns
the iodized salt a purplish color. A bleaching agent is then necessary
to restore whiteness to the salt."
Traditions – pp. 48
seem a sensible practice, but there is profit to be had with the
by-products of salt refinement. Common sense would dictate that
removing all of the things that make salt work properly when ingested
by humans to then put it back (sort of) is just plain silly. According
to some researchers the iodine salts found in traditionally produced
sea-salt (salt water exposed to the sun in clay vats) actually stay
in your body longer then the additive versions. Accepted science
with regard to the detrimental effects of salt may only be valid
if we're talking about this refined version.
for millennia treated salt as a valuable commodity. The word 'salary'
is derived from the Latin 'sal' – salt. Roman soldiers were paid
in salt. China at one time actually produced salt coins. That it
was used as currency is not proof of salt's dietary efficacy. On
the other hand, its importance was in fact based on its fundamental
life-saving quality. Wars have been fought over salt. The city in
Germany, Salsburg was a major stop at one time along the
historical salt trade routes. Timbuktu's legend was made during
the time that salt traded there as equal in value to gold. It cannot
be stressed enough how important salt has been to the development
of civilizations. It is as important as water for humans. You would
literally die without salt; every cell in your body requires sodium
to work properly.
science tends to attempt the discrediting of conventional human
wisdom, claiming it invalid for not conforming to scientific methods
or claiming it is the product of superstition. This is pretty easy
to do with reductionist methods. If you take any compound and strip
everything down to its most basic elements, you can probably "prove"
just about any theory. The reductionists, in spite of common sense
and in spite of thousands of years of evidence to the contrary have
declared salt is bad for you. Because they're experts, we listen.
But we forget that there is a difference between the product of
some study and actual knowledge.
There are examples
of populations which defy modern medicine's proscriptions against
salt and do not show elevated risks for heart disease or even its
precursor condition, hypertension. For instance, in the Andes, inhabitants
there commonly pour quantities of salt on their foods which would
send witnessing medical professionals – those who subscribe
to the "salt is bad" theory – into coronary arrest. They harvest
it from the mountain quarries and keep it handy in large bowls,
grabbing a pinch or dipping food directly in the salt. My wife,
who witnessed this while in Ecuador, said her companion tried to
warn their hostess that salt was bad but the woman corrected her
and said salt was, roughly translated (from Quechua, to Spanish
then English), "the blood from the earth." This woman certainly
didn't believe the admonition of the American girl because everyone
in their village had been eating that way all their lives. While
anecdotal, this example does offer evidence of an exception.
are discovering that minerals which exist in salt refined by ancient
methods but not in refined table salt are very important to circulatory
health. Sea salt refined traditionally can contain up to 16% of
its content in trace minerals and salts other than sodium chloride.
magnesium and potassium are important in the case of hypertension.
The pharmaceutical companies' answer to hypertension are blood pressure
medications falling under the classification of calcium
channel blockers (CCBs). What these types of medications do
is prevent the uptake of calcium into your system so that the blood
vessels expand. An unfortunate side effect of these drugs is reduction
in magnesium absorption. Magnesium is an important mineral which
aids your body in metabolizing calcium and potassium. Potassium
deficiency is a prime suspect amongst nutritionists as the main
cause of hypertension.
can't patent magnesium. Anne Briscoe and Charles Ragan discovered
in a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,
that calcium and magnesium are cooperative elements. When you increase
magnesium intake, your absorption of both magnesium and calcium
are greatly improved. When magnesium absorption is improved, so
is potassium absorption. Thus, CCBs ultimately treat the symptom
(constricted blood vessels) by reducing calcium absorption yet increase
the body's dependency on the drug since the underlying root cause
of hypertension is not addressed and is in fact exacerbated.
the salt debate is a red herring in the matter of hypertension.
The reductionists define salt as the majority element in a compound
(in this case sodium chloride) and thus a study which focuses on
this form of "salt" cannot even pretend to resolve the whys and
wherefores of the real thing. A similar case in point is Vitamin
C. Vitamin C is defined by the reductionists as 'ascorbic acid'
when in reality Vitamin C is a compound comprised of at least 90
different elements, some of which are known to aid in the absorption
of the majority ingredient and some of which are still being studied.
This is fairly typical in the war on conventional wisdom. Weston
Price debunked the "fat is bad" theory even before it began
– another myth that has probably killed more than it has saved;
yet many in the medical community continue to peddle the "don't
eat fat" theory just like they peddle the "don't eat salt" theory.
Price is a must read for anyone with an interest in nutrition.
If you trust
thousands of years of human evolution and wisdom, rather than chose
a refined table salt, seek out traditionally made sea salt (sun
and clay vats) or mined salt and at the very least you will augment
your magnesium, calcium and potassium intake, and you will more
than likely be quite healthy even if you ingest a goodly amount
of it. Beware of sticker shock however. Good sea salt or earth-mined
salt is over a dollar an ounce whereas refined table salt trades
at under a dollar a pound.
Fisk [send him email] is
a 44-year-old software developer and entrepreneur. He is married,
has 3 children and resides in Austin, TX.
© 2007 LewRockwell.com