Water and salt (along with potassium) regulate the water content of the body.
Drinking water without adequate salt and potassium intake will not correct dehydration!
Drinking water will temporarily treat the symptoms of dehydration, but the balance of salt intake is what makes the real difference in health and hydration.
For some reason, the importance of salt intake took a long time for me to digest and comprehend.
I believe most of us have been programmed for years to believe that all salt is bad.
The fact is that refined white salt, such as commercial table salt, IS bad for our health. I consider it a toxic poison for the human body.
However, unrefined natural salt provides many health benefits. It is a vital element for all living things.
In some cultures, salt is literally worth its weight in gold. Unrefined sea salt, for example, has been used by healers throughout the ages as a powerful “medication.” And in desert countries, people know that their survival depends on a balanced intake of water and salt.
Water itself regulates the water content inside our cells. Water delivers nutrients to the cells and helps remove toxins and metabolic wastes from the cells.
Once water gets into the cells, potassium is what holds it there. Where does potassium come from? It is found in abundance in fruits and vegetables—another important reason to eat 5 to 10 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables daily!
Salt’s main role in the regulation of water is to keep some water outside the cells. This happens because of salt’s natural osmotic retention of water.
Dr. Batmanghelidj, author of "Your Body’s Many Cries for Water," offered a good analogy when he wrote: “Basically, there are two oceans of water in the body: One ocean is held inside the cells of the body and the other ocean is held outside the cells. Good health depends on a delicate balance between the volumes of these two oceans.”
The balance of the two oceans in our body is achieved by (1) drinking enough water daily, (2) adding a moderate amount of natural salt to our diet, and (3) eating a variety of potassium-rich fruits and vegetables.
Some of the best sources of potassium include apricots, avocados, bananas, dates, figs, garlic, nuts, potatoes, raisins, spinach, winter squash, yams, and brown rice.
Editor's Note: I do not recommend taking potassium supplements unless your potassium levels are being checked by a health practitioner.
The quality of drinking water is always important. I recommend drinking filtered water that is free of contaminants but still contains the natural minerals in the water.
Batmanghelidj recommends drinking half your body weight in ounces of clean water each day and dissolving about 1/8 teaspoon of unrefined natural salt on your tongue before each 16 ounces of water that you drink.
However, please note that the addition of natural salt is ONLY recommended if you are actually drinking half your body weight in ounces of water. If you are not drinking enough water daily to be fully hydrated, adding the natural salt may not be beneficial.
Some people don't like the taste of salt on the tongue and thus prefer to just add the natural salt to food or to water. This may be sufficient for some people, some of the time.
However, more salt is needed during hot weather and after exercising since we lose excess electrolytes through sweating.
After exercise, I highly recommend dissolving a pinch of natural salt on your tongue, followed by 12 to 16 ounces of filtered water, not only for hydration purposes but to replenish electrolytes in the body.
In fact, this is a much better way to replenish electrolytes in the body than by drinking sport drinks, which tend to be full of sugar and are highly acidifying. Or check out our Homemade Electrolyte Enhanced Water recipe.
With a little self-awareness, you will begin to intuitively know how to maintain the water and salt balance in your body.
Caution: These salt intake recommendations are for unrefined natural salt only, not refined salt. See definitions below. If you have been told to restrict your salt intake or if you have a serious health condition, consult with your health practitioner before increasing your water or salt intake.
The biggest problem with refined table salt is that it is devoid of minerals and contains harmful additives. Refined table salt is typically 99.9% NaCl (sodium-chloride), a chemical that is as processed and denatured as white sugar.
Refined salt contains additives, such as 0.01% of potassium-iodide (added to help prevent thyroid disease), sugar (added to stabilize iodine and prevent clumping), and aluminum silicate.
Other harmful chemicals, such as inorganic iodine, dextrose, and bleaching agents, are often added during processing.
People who eat refined salt often develop a craving for salt because their bodies are not getting the type of natural salt that it needs. They then tend to consume more and more refined salt, burdening the kidneys and adrenal glands and blocking the absorption of calcium.
Medical studies have shown that an excess intake of refined salt interferes with the absorption of nutrients and depletes calcium.
Many functions in the body are dependent upon calcium uptake. Calcium is critical for the health of the nerves and the heart, as well as the muscles and bones.
Refined salt also creates a major imbalance in water regulation inside and outside the cells, especially when the body is dehydrated.
Inadequate water intake along with refined salt intake leads to many serious health issues, most notably high blood pressure and water retention. This is partly how salt got such a bad rap.
The bottom line is, if you value your health, do not take any form of refined white salt.
Unrefined natural salt, which contains sodium as well as many other minerals the body needs, is the best type of salt to take. It must be labeled “Unrefined” with “No Additives.”
There are two basic types of unrefined natural salt to consider: (1) mineral salt, and (2) sea salt.
Mineral salts are mined from thousands of feet below the ground surface in areas where there is a deep layer of mineral salts. Sea salt is harvested by different methods, but it basically involves sunlight and the evaporation of ocean water.
The most notable mineral salt many health advocates recommend is Himalayan crystal salt.
Natural Celtic sea salt is considered by many to be the healthiest sea salt available.
Beware of products in grocery stores, as well as health food stores, that are labeled “sea salt,” but are still highly refined and devoid of the key elements of natural sea salt.
Natural sea salt is not white and it is not dry. It is a little gray in color due to the mineral content and it retains some of its moisture even when stored in the refrigerator for long periods of time.
Both the Celtic sea salt and the Himalayan crystal salt contain many health promoting minerals and trace elements that are utilized in the human body.
My salt preference at this time is Celtic sea salt, but I believe Himalayan crystal salt is just as beneficial (although usually more expensive).
Further reading . . .
If you have a question about a natural salt such as Celtic sea salt, Hawaiian sea salt, or Himalayan crystal salt, you can ask it here. Or feel to share your salt preference, personal health benefits you have experienced, or concerns you may have.
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