Salt actually has many important functions in the body, including:
Highly processed table salt has a bad reputation for raising blood pressure and increasing inflammation that is not seen when people consume natural unrefined sea salt. That is why you have probably heard recommendations in the media on reducing your salt consumption. In addition, most people don’t realize that regular table salt has been heavily refined by a chemical cleaning process. Major table-salt producing companies dry their salt in huge kilns where temperatures often reach 1200 degrees F. This changes the salt’s chemical structure, reducing the number of elements that are naturally found in the salt from 84 to only a couple. This man-made product usually consists of just sodium and chloride, along with some additives, like inorganic iodine in the form of potassium-iodide, and often sugar and aluminum silicate to prevent clumping. However, our body needs those other elements, including trace minerals and natural iodine, in order to be healthy.
Perhaps this is why most macrobiotic experts regard consuming refined sea salt as just as bad for your health as ingesting white sugar. Fish from the ocean will die quickly if placed in a solution of refined salt and water. This sodium chloride is poisonous to them, so it’s no wonder that it seems to be harmful to humans as well. However, our bodies need some salt — blood, sweat and tears all contain salt, and both the skin and the eyes seems to be protected from germs by the anti-bacterial effect of salt. The only kind we can honestly recommend as a salt to consume on a day-to-day basis is natural unrefined sea salt.
Unrefined sea salt that is evaporated from the ocean is higher in vital essential minerals (especially magnesium) than even the mined unrefined salts that we have seen. This pink or grey sea salt contains all the minerals and micro-nutrients that are found in the sea, including iodine. Almost all processed foods, even those found in the health food store, contain regular, refined table salt, including soy sauce. (Even if it says “sea salt,” that is probably refined sea salt, that has been robbed of its nutrients just like common table salt.) That’s another reason why you need to eliminate or drastically cut back on all packaged foods.
If you chose to buy another salt besides unrefined pink or grey sea salt, you need to ask where the salt comes from, how it was harvested, whether or not it has been refined, and what types of nutrients are contained in it. Truly natural sea salt should be hand harvested and left out to dry by solar evaporation. The grey sea salt from the salt marshes of Guerande, France, in the Brittany region, has been naturally collected for over 1200 years. There are some brands of pink salt from Hawaii and the Mediterranean that are excellent as well.
If you are deficient in minerals, like most of us are, using unrefined sea salt can help you to replenish those minerals. Another way to help increase your mineral stores is by bathing in mineral and salt-rich waters. You can either go take a cure at a mineral spa, as people have done for hundreds of years, or use products at home in your bath, such as bath salts from the Dead Sea, which are rich in minerals as well as sodium chloride. Our bodies absorb minerals through our skin, which is why many people swear by mineral bath soaking, whether at a spa or in the comfort of your own home. Mineral-rich salt baths, salt scrubs, rubs and polishes all work to replenish minerals in the body, exfoliate dead skin, stimulate circulation and relieve stress. Just make sure and get one that uses natural sea salt and pure essential oils if you want some fragrance, not synthetic.