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Salt intakes of paleo man

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 16, 2012 at 10:07 PM

I have been reading Chris Kresser's series on salt. In part one he talks about the history of our use of and obsession with salt. In part two he discusses how our bodies use salt and the consequences of consuming too much or too little. Over all a good read and very informative.

My questions involve the hunter-gatherer salt intakes. First, he states that there is no evidence that the nomadic early humans mined or supplemented with salt. One issue I have with this is that salt mines have been found by following animals to cave where they eat rocks. If animals know to seek out these salts, why would humans not do so? Second, if they did not supplement with salt how did they get adequate sodium intake? Minerals in the water that we now filter out? They may not have bled their animals as we do, so from the meat?

Medium avatar

(19469)

on April 18, 2012
at 10:36 PM

Many HG "cooking" involves simply throwing a piece of meat into a pit of coals so I would imagine that quite a bit of ash is consumed. I know that ash from cooking and heating was commonly used to fortify fields in agricultural and semi-agricultural societies so although I am not familiar with the particular mineral content I'm sure that it is a valid factor.

A3bb2c70384b0664a933b45739bac32c

(951)

on April 18, 2012
at 08:22 PM

What about culinary ash? Things with ash on them tend to taste salty to me and it has other essential minerals. Could this have been another source of salts?

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Medium avatar

(19469)

on April 17, 2012
at 12:18 AM

Blood consumption has been practiced by several HG groups (most famously by the Masai, which I suppose would be classified more as pastoralists) and coastal populations would have had sufficient quantities of sea-food (sea weeds, shellfish, etc.) to supply adequate sodium. I've read accounts of bile being drizzled over fresh slices of liver and other organs, so offal may have been another source of salt.

However, I do think that it is somewhat absurd to assert that concerted efforts to obtain salt are solely a neolithic phenomenon. The lead on a NY Times article on clay eating was, "The practice of eating dirt, usually fine clays, is so common in so many societies that it must be regarded as a normal human behavior." The article did not single out salt/sodium in particular, but it did mention that geophagy may be practiced to "balance out mineral deficiencies."

A3bb2c70384b0664a933b45739bac32c

(951)

on April 18, 2012
at 08:22 PM

What about culinary ash? Things with ash on them tend to taste salty to me and it has other essential minerals. Could this have been another source of salts?

Medium avatar

(19469)

on April 18, 2012
at 10:36 PM

Many HG "cooking" involves simply throwing a piece of meat into a pit of coals so I would imagine that quite a bit of ash is consumed. I know that ash from cooking and heating was commonly used to fortify fields in agricultural and semi-agricultural societies so although I am not familiar with the particular mineral content I'm sure that it is a valid factor.

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