5

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How Much Salt Did Our Paleolithic Ancestors Eat?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created July 10, 2011 at 5:58 PM

I'm pretty sure our ancestors acquired salt from drinking an animal's blood and from seafood. I'm fascinated by the new studies that say salt is good for you and I was wondering how much sodium Grok ate and how much should we eat?

72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on June 16, 2013
at 04:21 PM

Not sure if I agree with either the method or the inferences, but upvoted for providing a meaty reference for one of those factoids that otherwise just circulates.

513587882111828e619d66f2a146b627

(198)

on June 16, 2013
at 02:19 AM

This is one of the most uneducated postings I have read in a long time. Wild animals eat salt practically every chance they get.

Ee70ee808f748374744404a00e1c22ed

(1163)

on June 21, 2012
at 12:45 AM

Porcupines have been known to chew through the radiator belts of vehicles if there is any salt accumulation there from the roads. Creatures (including humans), can certainly metabolize salt, and it is definitely essential to life. Your cells require sodium to maintain an optimum balance of pressure against the cell walls. Too much pressure or too little results in serious damage to your cells. If your sodium levels drop too much you will eventually lose consciousness, go into seizures, and die.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on June 20, 2012
at 05:31 PM

What is "perfect blood pressure"?

F5be4be097edc85690c12d67ee1a27c0

(1884)

on June 20, 2012
at 03:24 PM

Agreed... If I'm especially salty, my dog will have a field day licking me.

7f8bc7ce5c34aae50408d31812c839b0

(2698)

on June 20, 2012
at 02:17 PM

Agreed. Sodium is the major need, but I think you do need some chlorine intake to manufacture stomach acid. Of course I'm a big salt fiend so I'll defend it till the death!

B885dc10c6263f5a4492205d50560bee

(401)

on June 20, 2012
at 01:17 PM

There are many animals who naturally find salt-laden objects and lick or eat them to gain the salt. Horses, deer, elephants, birds, dogs, etc.

4b61b13ed39e5c5d01fe234900cadcf8

(1138)

on July 10, 2011
at 06:56 PM

*eating enough salt, I mean

4b61b13ed39e5c5d01fe234900cadcf8

(1138)

on July 10, 2011
at 06:56 PM

looking forward to other peoples view on this... I've found that I crave salt now more than I did eating SAD. I guess I'm not eating enough. I never really salted my food much before.

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7 Answers

3
Baa413654789b57f3579474ca7fa43d7

(2349)

on June 20, 2012
at 01:08 PM

Chris Kresser recently wrote a great series of articles in which he examines both historical consumption and health implications of salt.

He writes that "Preagricultural humans are estimated to have consumed only 768 mg of sodium each day (about 1950 mg of salt), which is much lower than our current intake." This estimate is based on a paper of paleolithic nutrition by S. Boyd Eaton and Melvin Konner - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9104571

Ultimately he advises that "adding unrefined salt to a whole foods Paleo diet is perfectly healthy. By limiting grains and processed foods, the amount of sodium in your diet will already be drastically reduced as compared to the standard American diet. A bit of salt can make certain healthy foods, particularly bitter vegetables, far more palatable. Considering the evidence I???ve presented in this series, I believe that salt restriction for the general population is not only unnecessary, but potentially dangerous."

Check out the whole series here: http://chriskresser.com/shaking-up-the-salt-myth

3
97c04f87a752ff0a5cf6be9d806c0334

(888)

on July 24, 2011
at 08:51 PM

I believe salt has always been good for us and necessary. You can get sick if you don't have enough sodium chloride, from headaches to dizziness. If you drink too much water without eating salty foods, then you run the risk of water intoxication.

Personally, I can feel if I need salt in my system, similar to how one gets thirsty. But I think we crave more salt than necessary. I think its evolutionary, way back from the times land animals emerged from the ocean. As long as we listen to our own bodies, I think we're fine.

2
10cadc0a2dff90c849c6d088832be324

(741)

on June 20, 2012
at 01:53 PM

I would imagine that our ancestors would have settled near the ocean and eaten lots of salt water fish/animals. That being said I think sea salt would be the best option and I do believe that salt is important to our diet. Keep in mind though that pre packaged foods have unnecessarily high amounts of salt and that if you're getting salt it should be from your shaker.

1
854b2c3fd8950c34b5ac1e6b645219d2

(10)

on June 15, 2013
at 11:44 PM

Chris Kresser, and many others have, quoted the Paleolithic sodium intake as a low 786mg. The reference for 786 mg Na is

Paleolithic Nutrition Revisited: a twelve-year retrospective on its nature and implications. Eaton SB, Eaton SB 3rd, Konner MJ.

The full text of this is at http://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/v51/n4/pdf/1600389a.pdf

From the Appendix, page 215

???Method. We have collected from the literature nutrient analyses of wild plant and animal foods which have been utilized by recent gatherer-hunters and which were presumably consumed by pre-agricultural humans as well.???

The authors have simply analyzed the nutritional data from wild animals and plants.

Such an analysis does not include, (a) Visiting the salt licks like the rest of the animals, (b) Taking salt from natural evaporation pools along a sea shore, (c) Drinking animal blood.

72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on June 16, 2013
at 04:21 PM

Not sure if I agree with either the method or the inferences, but upvoted for providing a meaty reference for one of those factoids that otherwise just circulates.

1
7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on June 20, 2012
at 02:05 PM

We can't actually know this, but consider what happens when animals find natural salt deposits. When deer find salt, they'll sit there and lick it. The phenomenon is so well known that hunters put out salt to attract deer. So, what I am thinking is that people are trying to answer this question based on what we ate, but the idea of putting the salt on our food was invented at some point. Before that people got it directly out of their environment like the deer do.

From a personal perspective, I found it necessary to increase salt intake sometime after going paleo. My blood pressure can get too low, and I've experienced a lot of weird little symptoms that seem to clear up with more salt. So, either the initial assumptions that Cordain and other researchers had were flawed, or somehow my previous SAD eating ways set me up to need a higher level of salt than I otherwise would need.

1
2d5221fa80d04a3d8ac6f471f9feae81

(894)

on July 10, 2011
at 07:35 PM

Not salt, SODIUM. Salt is sodium-chloride and was probably ZERO at the time of our African development. Inland Maoris and Kuna dumped salt entirely and seem to have exceptional health and perfect blood pressure.

Since we're not drinking beef blood and things, a little salt is probably fine because we need sodium. But technically we don't need doses of chloride. Cordain says sodium:potassium should be 1:5 - 1:10. I could live with that.

Salt is hard to replace because it gives everything a dimension of flavor. I'm definitely not one of those people who can experience the "subtle taste" from herbs and spices - that's total horse as far as I'm concerned. The only worthy substitute I found for salt is Benson's Table Tasty - a dried vegetable and herb mix that is amazing. But they do use nightshades(I passed it through a mesh collander to get rid of bell pepper seeds).

Other than that, I guess just don't abuse it like WAPFers do.

7f8bc7ce5c34aae50408d31812c839b0

(2698)

on June 20, 2012
at 02:17 PM

Agreed. Sodium is the major need, but I think you do need some chlorine intake to manufacture stomach acid. Of course I'm a big salt fiend so I'll defend it till the death!

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on June 20, 2012
at 05:31 PM

What is "perfect blood pressure"?

-3
0f4e3eec86190a4ad96ce065ff2588c6

on June 20, 2012
at 12:46 PM

The man is the only living organism that "eats" salt. The salt is "invented" for preserving food. It is not necessary for your health - but opposite it is bad. It is not true that we need a salt in order to have a good health. No outer living thing in the planet does not consume salt. Humans did not consume salt millions of years. Americans did nod consume salt before white man came and they had better health then the white man.

So it is pure nonsense that we need a salt so live. Without it we would be healtyer.

Sodium, Chloride, Iodine and much more is found in the food. If you eat fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds you have everything you need. This is how life works.

The body cannot metabolize salt. It is entered like a salt in the body, and it leaves the body as salt. The salt pushes the water out of the cells. It is a biocid.

The live does not require factories to exists.

http://www.rawfoodexplained.com/condiments/salt.html

F5be4be097edc85690c12d67ee1a27c0

(1884)

on June 20, 2012
at 03:24 PM

Agreed... If I'm especially salty, my dog will have a field day licking me.

B885dc10c6263f5a4492205d50560bee

(401)

on June 20, 2012
at 01:17 PM

There are many animals who naturally find salt-laden objects and lick or eat them to gain the salt. Horses, deer, elephants, birds, dogs, etc.

Ee70ee808f748374744404a00e1c22ed

(1163)

on June 21, 2012
at 12:45 AM

Porcupines have been known to chew through the radiator belts of vehicles if there is any salt accumulation there from the roads. Creatures (including humans), can certainly metabolize salt, and it is definitely essential to life. Your cells require sodium to maintain an optimum balance of pressure against the cell walls. Too much pressure or too little results in serious damage to your cells. If your sodium levels drop too much you will eventually lose consciousness, go into seizures, and die.

513587882111828e619d66f2a146b627

(198)

on June 16, 2013
at 02:19 AM

This is one of the most uneducated postings I have read in a long time. Wild animals eat salt practically every chance they get.

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