Salt is a chemical compound comprised of 40% sodium and 60% chloride. It is used as a preservative to increase shelf life of foods.
In modern times, mining helped increase availability making it a more affordable commodity. Once upon a time, it was harder to obtain, and as a result, was used by the wealthy, or as a form of salary or payment. In fact many words, including salary, share the same PIE root, sal. Ancient Roman warriors received payment of a handful of salt each day while in service.
Contrarily, potassium is fundamental to all life. It's one of the three main ingredients of fertilizer ~ Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium (N-P-K).
Humans have historically consumed much greater quantities of potassium-rich foods, especially in relation to sodium. Modern Hunter-Gatherer tribes who have historically consumed very low-sodium, high potassium diets have little to no occurrence of high blood pressure (HBP), stroke, and senior senility or dementia.
Two great books Don and I recommend to learn about the potential health damaging effects from high salt consumption is The Salt Solution by Herb Boynton, Mark F. McCarty, and Richard D. Moore, M.D., Ph.D.; and Salt And The Seven Deadly Ills, by Karel Sporek.
As explained in The Salt Solution, the human body is comprised of trillions of cells. Every cell contains sodium potassium (Na/K) pumps which act like mini batteries. The pumps continually work to move sodium outside of the cells, while moving potassium inside the cells.
Since extracellular fluid contains 30 times more sodium than potassium, these pumps work hard to keep sodium out of the cells, using about 1/4 of our total energy intake from food!
While the sodium potassium pumps work hard throughout our bodies to keep sodium out of the cells, in the kidneys, this action is reversed.
The kidneys function to prevent excess loss of sodium. This indicates that sodium is an important element to the diet, yet was likely obtained in much smaller quantities, hence the sodium sparing functioning of the kidneys.
When too much sodium is consumed, you want to be able to get rid of it, which can actually take some time.
To excrete the excess sodium, the body releases natriuretic substances that slow down the Na/K pumps, allowing the kidneys to excrete sodium into the urine. However, the natriuretic substances slows down all the Na/K pumps, making them all more sluggish.
According to Boynton, continual insufficient intake of potassium coupled with too much sodium from salt leads to an imbalance of potassium and sodium in every cell, causing "a wide range of problems ranging from poor sugar metabolism to cholesterol build up and narrowed arteries–just to name a few."
And that's just the beginning, as this will increase risk for many diseases.
I also believe this is the reason so many people, especially women are experiencing low energy and fatigue, as our very batteries (Na/K pumps) are functioning poorly, while working over time to deal with the imbalance.
Click here for an overview of the potassium and sodium content of several plant and animal foods, along with tips to increase potassium and decrease sodium plus meal ideas.
The Na/K pumps create an electrical charge, like mini batteries.
Sodium being pumped out of the cells is positively charged, while the pumps generate a negative charge inside the cells. This electrical charge influences proteins in the cells, serving several functions including transport of substances in and out of the cells, transmitting hormone signals, and enzymatic reactions.
When we consume salt with too little potassium, the sodium potassium pumps begin to take more sodium into the cells. Since sodium atoms are half the volume as potassium atoms, twice as much sodium can fill a cell as potassium. This creates increased electrical charge ~ a hyperactivity, sometimes referred to as an 'excitotoxin.'
The proper functioning of these pumps is necessary for nerve signaling, muscle contraction, and kidney function.
Daily consumption of an imbalanced ratio of potassium to sodium can lead to anxiety, insomnia, hyperactivity, and more.
Does your mind ever kick into high gear when awakened in the middle of the night, as if a switch was flipped on that is difficult to shut off? Yeah, me too. That is, until I stopped salting food.
Don used to wake up to urinate around 3 or so AM most nights. If he didn't wake up at that hour, I did. We spent so many nights having disrupted sleep, it was wearing us down, and negatively effecting our training recovery. That's all changed since shaking the salt habit.
Perhaps it's also a result of enjoying more potassium-rich fruits, potatoes and other natural foods.
The potassium (K) to sodium (Na) ratio should be at least 6:1, K:Na, if not much more, however, in our modern diet, this ratio is reversed. Most foods ~ including dairy and meats ~ naturally contain at least 3 times more potassium to sodium, if not more.
Several plant foods, such as the now demonized, yet humble potato, sweet potato, winter squash, bananas, dried apricots, dates, and many other plant foods are excellent sources of potassium.
Even whole grains contain potassium, with rye and oats being among the highest, however many beans / legumes contain much larger amounts.
Too high intake of sodium coupled with too low intake of potassium are linked to many diseases, including:
Don and I have been eliminating salt from our diet, and greatly increasing our consumption of potassium-rich foods, with great results!
I will be updating Meats & Sweets recipes to reflect what we've been learning, and will follow up with a Meats & Sweets, 2nd Edition ~ Savory, Salt-Free & Biblically Clean ~ or something along those lines to reflect all that we have discovered since Meats & Sweets ~ A High Vitality Diet was first published.
Or watch the video, below.
Salt is in EVERYTHING!
Many can't imagine not consuming salt. And some believe they NEED salt because they have low blood pressure, or postural hypotensive dizzy spells ~ like I once did. However, even hypotensive dizziness is more a result of too little potassium, not too little salt!
Salt is simply not an essential ingredient ~ sodium is required, but is found in natural foods ~ both plants and animals ~ in sufficient supply for our needs.
Not yet convinced?
Just take a gander at the safety data sheet for sodium chloride (salt!)
Ditching salt is not as hard as you may imagine, as your tastes will change. In fact, all foods taste sweeter and more flavorful!
You'll actually be tasting the foods instead of the salt!
Increasing potassium-rich foods ~ especially fruits, tubers, winter squash, beans, and even beef ~ and reducing sodium will improve your vitality and health, and reduce your risk for HBP, hypertension stroke, senior dementia and other diseases.
Just keep this equation in mind: Potassium > Sodium (K>Na).
Lose the salt, not the savor, with delicious, simple meals centered around natural foods.
Jan 10, 22 07:08 PM
Here is a list of the best foods to eat to enjoy better health, vitality and prevention from disease.
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My favorite and top recommended Natures Sunshine quality vitamins, minerals, enzymes, probiotics and herbs for improved functioning, balance and health.
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A look at some of the pros & cons of a low-carbohydrate diet.
My husband Don and I have tried a myriad of diets trying to resolve our personal ongoing nagging conditions, including allergies, digestive issues, psoriasis, and others, while also maintaining mental and physical health as we age.
We consumed natural, whole and minimally processed foods, however we added or subtracted them according to the 'research' available to us at the time.
Specifically we added or subtracted dairy, grains, beans, nuts, seeds, animal foods, sugars, fruits, wheat, and meat. We tweaked our macros ~ trying higher or lower protein, fat, and/or carbohydrates.
We eventually consulted the Bible to determine which foods were favored by the early Israelites, and which foods were considered 'unclean' and immediately eliminated any of the Biblically unclean foods from our diet, as it just made sense.
After many years of being vegan, followed by very low-carb / keto-carnivore, we began to increase our consumption of fruit and honey ~ returning to the spontaneous diet we consumed immediately post vegan, as we swapped out the grains and beans for lean meats, and greatly increased our fruit consumption.
It was at that time that we dubbed our diet a meats and sweets diet, as we enjoyed the combination of meats (meat, eggs and dairy) and sweets (fruits, tubers, honey and tree saps, and some tree nuts.) This was the inspiration for Meats & Sweets ~ A High Vitality Diet.
Meats & Sweets has hands down been our most preferred dietary approach ~ nature's most nutrient-rich foods. I even mentioned in the book that meat and fruits provide a great balance of sodium and potassium.
Despite it being right under our noses, we still had a few pesky health issues that kept us pondering...
...until Don had a lightbulb moment.
Then it all began to make sense.