Here's Why Salt is Actually Good For You: Benefits and Recommended Daily ConsumptionJune 6, 2022
Salt aids blood sugar control by improving insulin sensitivity**. A low-salt diet increases insulin resistance** and even moderate dietary salt restriction is shown to cause systemic insulin resistance (study #1 and #2 ).
Salt is a natural antihistamine. A pinch of salt sprinkled on the tongue may help improve an allergic reaction or an asthma attack ( source ).
Your body needs salt to maintain the proper stomach pH. Stomach acid is hydro_chloric_ acid and salt is sodium _chloride_. Proper stomach acid levels are absolutely foundational for good digestion, but 90% of Americans have low stomach acid.
Salt lowers adrenaline spikes. Adrenaline is a necessary and important stress hormone, but it is just that… a stress hormone. When adrenaline patterns are out of rhythm, it takes a toll on the body ( source ).
alt improves sleep quality. It boasts anti-stress and anti-excitatory qualities due to its suppression of stress hormones and its increasing metabolic rate. This may explain why many people report that a low sodium diet interferes with sleep and an adequate amount of dietary salt improves sleep quality.
Interestingly, if you often wake up with your heart pounding between 2 and 4 AM, it is probably because of an adrenaline spike. The most important change is to reduce both physical and mental stress, as well as eat a healthy diet. But one immediate fix to help you go back to sleep is just a pinch of salt and sugar (or salt and honey, if you prefer) sprinkled on the tongue to calm the adrenaline peak (read more about it in this book!) .
Adequate salt consumption encourages a healthy weight and fast metabolism. First, one study showed that increased salt intake leads to an increase in the elimination of cortisol and lower blood cortisol levels. Imbalanced or excess cortisol means weight gain and a stagnant metabolism.
Salt supports thyroid function by reducing circulating stress hormones. For example, cortisol is anti-thyroid, but salt combats excess cortisol.
Salt supports the hyperosmolarity of the extracellular fluid. Slight hyperosmolarity–more solutes in the extracellular fluid than in the cell–actually increases the cell’s metabolic rate ( source ). That means salt can speed up your metabolism! On the other hand, when the extracellular fluid is hypo-osmotic in relation to the cell, it impairs the breakdown of proteins and glucose and thereby lowers the cell’s metabolism.
Increased sodium intake also correlates with increased thermogenesis–heat production by the body (the study is here ).
Adequate salt supports balanced hormones. Hormone and nutrition researcher Ray Peat explains the correlation between the salt-regulating hormone aldosterone and mineral loss:
Promotes good vascular health. When it comes to salt, it actually has protective effects against heart disease . The findings on how salt helps heart disease markers directly contradict the years of recommendations against salt in diets – it’s just important which type of salt you’re using.
How much salt should I eat?
Food should be salted freely and to taste. When the metabolism is slow and the thyroid is not optimally functioning, it may be beneficial to consume extra salt whenever possible. This could include salting all beverages and using liberal salt when cooking and baking.
If you have kidney disease or hypertension, it is a good idea to consult with a medical practitioner before increasing salt intake.
Most importantly, listen to your body. Let your salt craving and desire for seasoning dictate how much salt to consume.
Photo by Maksym Sirman on Unsplash
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