4

votes

To salt or not to salt?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 13, 2012 at 6:01 PM

I thought nothing of adding healthy sea salt to my homemade bone broths. But then I read this article by Chris Kresser in which he says paleo diets were very low in sodium.

As we can see, there is an enormous range in the daily dietary sodium intake of various cultures around the world, ranging from quite low (1150 mg) to fairly high (5175 mg). Additionally, we know that the healthy kidney is capable of adjusting to fluctuating levels of sodium in the diet in order to maintain fluid homeostasis. Finally, we know that hunter-gatherer and Paleolithic diets were very low in sodium, and that salt was rarely, if ever, added to food. Therefore, it would seem that limiting salt in the diet to those levels recommended by the AHA and USDA would not have any significant consequences, and would be an ideal dietary choice when mimicking the diet of our ancestors. However, evidence is mounting to the contrary: a low-salt diet may actually lead to serious health consequences and higher overall mortality, particularly in conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

What's a salt loving paleo guy to do? Is it generally agreed upon that primitive people didn't consume much salt? If so, thoughts on what that means to humans today?

966a380766495d1734de2e2ab09f4a66

(0)

on August 14, 2014
at 01:49 AM

Thanks for posting this! Seriously, I am starting to get really confused because every site varies so much! Some say nothing salted-condiments, meats etc so I just assumed that meant no sea salt which my veggies are not the same without it. So I gather if it was okay for the primitive peeps then we can eat it-man, I wish they ate my Thai chili paste...

A70f601216d8471416d3e58b619dc7cd

on March 02, 2014
at 08:22 PM

This is because salt is an addiction. I encourage you to read my post that I have just created.

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7

(3979)

on July 25, 2013
at 11:30 PM

^ Following cravings is one of the quickest ways to diet *success* as long as you remain within the bounds of natural, *whole* foods (aka not processed foods) and retain some common sense.

Cc69a51b427eaad36251cce9dcca4d3a

(1074)

on January 11, 2013
at 06:23 AM

following cravings is one of the quickest ways to diet failure

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 27, 2012
at 07:20 AM

We crave sugar since it is found in many nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, in its raw form it is not as well assimilated and will probably be stored as fat when ingested. It's a good thing we crave sweets since fruits and veggies have an overall benefit to our health, though it's unfortunate we abuse these cravings in modern day society.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 27, 2012
at 07:15 AM

Salt occurs naturally in a majority of foods such as celery

193b7fb0fec8913d5ebb3b99a04d21c6

(2918)

on April 13, 2012
at 07:08 PM

And then likely you will only read the answers that are best suited to what you want to hear. *cough - guilty - cough*

41dfb1a4fecb38d24075ff52f13ccb28

on April 13, 2012
at 07:06 PM

I get that, but this conversation is almost never productive. For every person you can find that tells you not to eat salt, you can find one on the other side that will cheer the benefits of salt.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on April 13, 2012
at 06:31 PM

I think seafood and animal blood often get overlooked in these arguments.

35b2cb4d450e5288895c255dfdfff35d

(5828)

on April 13, 2012
at 06:30 PM

I do intend to keep adding the salt. I posted the question because I had never thought about whether to salt or not until I read Kresser's article and thought others might benefit from the dialogue.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on April 13, 2012
at 06:29 PM

The question is : how much is too much?

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on April 13, 2012
at 06:29 PM

There's definitely lots of studies that show salt restriction has negative effects.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on April 13, 2012
at 06:16 PM

How existential of you! (I like it.)

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19 Answers

best answer

9
1ccc0b0b7a756cd42466cef8f450d0cb

(1801)

on April 13, 2012
at 07:15 PM

My strategy? When I'm tired, I sleep. When I'm thirsty, I drink. When I crave salt, I add salt to my food. When I crave sweet, I eat something sweet. For a while, I thought I was smarter than my body and didn't do the last two things. I paid for that decision with my health.

The way I see it, I'm not sure what Grok did and I don't think it's always the right question to ask. One thing he didn't do is change his oil but I'll keep doing that too ;)

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 27, 2012
at 07:20 AM

We crave sugar since it is found in many nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, in its raw form it is not as well assimilated and will probably be stored as fat when ingested. It's a good thing we crave sweets since fruits and veggies have an overall benefit to our health, though it's unfortunate we abuse these cravings in modern day society.

Cc69a51b427eaad36251cce9dcca4d3a

(1074)

on January 11, 2013
at 06:23 AM

following cravings is one of the quickest ways to diet failure

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7

(3979)

on July 25, 2013
at 11:30 PM

^ Following cravings is one of the quickest ways to diet *success* as long as you remain within the bounds of natural, *whole* foods (aka not processed foods) and retain some common sense.

14
41dfb1a4fecb38d24075ff52f13ccb28

on April 13, 2012
at 06:14 PM

Add the salt to your broth and don't worry about it.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on April 13, 2012
at 06:16 PM

How existential of you! (I like it.)

41dfb1a4fecb38d24075ff52f13ccb28

on April 13, 2012
at 07:06 PM

I get that, but this conversation is almost never productive. For every person you can find that tells you not to eat salt, you can find one on the other side that will cheer the benefits of salt.

35b2cb4d450e5288895c255dfdfff35d

(5828)

on April 13, 2012
at 06:30 PM

I do intend to keep adding the salt. I posted the question because I had never thought about whether to salt or not until I read Kresser's article and thought others might benefit from the dialogue.

193b7fb0fec8913d5ebb3b99a04d21c6

(2918)

on April 13, 2012
at 07:08 PM

And then likely you will only read the answers that are best suited to what you want to hear. *cough - guilty - cough*

6
A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on April 13, 2012
at 06:15 PM

On the other hand, elephants will go to great lengths to get some salt.

http://animal.discovery.com/fansites/wildkingdom/cave_elephants/field/field.html

Cordain keeps saying that paleo diets were low salt. I don't buy it. We don't know what non-food sources may have been used.

More importantly, there is little evidence that a low salt diet is healthy, but there is plenty of evidence that it is unhealthy. (Check google scholar or PubMed)

I say, salt away! (Or at least use what you like. For god's sake, food should be tasty!)

5
E12ead3bf63c94b5b619b03722ef554f

on April 13, 2012
at 06:26 PM

Unless you are salt-sensitive (and you could know you are if your blood pressure increases when you increase your salt intake), I wouldn't worry about adding salt to your food. I actually believe that people on a lower-carb version of the Paleo diet and people with adrenal fatigue can BENEFIT from adding salt to their food. Use UNREFINED mineral-rich salt.

3
2e5dc29c61f97d335ffb990508424719

on April 14, 2012
at 12:51 AM

Homo sapiens conquered the planet walking along the shoreline from Somalia to all the corners of the Earth. We have an intimate relationship with sea salt. Your kidneys will handle it.

3
2a00b9a42e4cb6e489a0e69d20714576

on April 13, 2012
at 10:03 PM

I felt extremely lethargic without some sea salt in my food. I know add it to a lot of my foods and have much higher energy levels.

A70f601216d8471416d3e58b619dc7cd

on March 02, 2014
at 08:22 PM

This is because salt is an addiction. I encourage you to read my post that I have just created.

3
1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on April 13, 2012
at 09:29 PM

I freaking LOVE salt. Not that I'll dump it all over my (already) salted food (I like to taste my food, but not have it taste like a salt-lick), but I much prefer salty over sweet. I've also learned how to balance it in my diet. When I'm feeling bloated, I'll reduce salt and increase magnesium. When I'm drinking water all day and still feeling thirsty, I'll up my salt so that I retain some of that hydrating goodness.

There's a real danger in becoming sodium-deficient when switching to a whole-food diet. Low sodium is recommended by and large because ALL restaurant food and processed food is outrageously and unnecessarily high in sodium. Meeting the minimum sodium requirements, when taking processed food out of the picture, is actually quite difficult to do.

3
518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on April 13, 2012
at 08:13 PM

I can tweak my blood pressure just through the change of salt in my diet. Not enough salt- hands/feet fall asleep easily, hands/feet feel cold, feel light-headed when I stand up, trembling hands, feel exhausted by 4 in the after noon. However, when I was still eating a modest amount of processed foods, eating out more etc I had unusually high blood pressure for my age (I tend to go to either extreme because of a heart condition). I think there is a healthy balance- not enough is bad, and too much is bad.

I would highly doubt that the "perfect amount" is the same for everyone. Just like some people have high blood pressure in the family, others have low blood pressure (I have one friend with freezing hands and feet- and every family reunion there's at least one fainter). Because there is probably individual variability, I wouldn't be sure how to go about finding out what an ideal amount is besides just saying that "some" would be good.

2
56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on July 26, 2013
at 01:52 AM

Hunter gatherers had a K/Na ratio of 4 or higher. They also craved sodium, like the elephants mentioned above, just like they craved fat and fruits. There was an evolutionary reason for this: there was not enough Na and fat in their diet for optimal health (and fruit kept them running at 100%). That craving should be enough to convince people that paleo Na levels are not optimal and too low. But K should be higher than Na. Our kidneys evolved to get rid of K and preserve Na, instead they spend their life running like a car in reverse. This is perhaps the strongest reason to eat fruits, very difficult to get grams of K/day without them. About 2 grams Na, 4 grams K seems fine for me.

Concur that eating only non processed foods drops the Na dramatically, although most paleos enjoy considerable amounts of sauerkrauts which should be budgeted (I certainly do). We even prepare roasting salt once a year, 2 pounds salt and 4 pounds herbs, mixed in the processor (the salt prevents spoiling), and we can flavor everything as much as we like. Concur also that you can feel weak on low salt, in summer I have to have salt twice a day to feel good and I add sauerkrauts if my lunch does not look salty enough.

2
E36cb992cf0a5eba8b97a359c15f38b3

on April 13, 2012
at 10:32 PM

I think if you're eating home-cooked food and no packaged stuff salt is likely not an issue. A word of caution if you DON'T salt: My mother-in-law has had BP problems for years (crappy diet of mostly Lean Cuisines and high stress) and was on meds. Cut all added salt and started cooking, which helped some. But then she started exercising and got rid of the meds, and getting nutrition advice to eat more whole foods. One day a couple of weeks into her gym class she had a BP drop so far that she had to be picked up by an ambulance and held at the hospital. She then started eating some salt again in food she cooked at home, and the problem ceased.

If you're eating whole foods and cooking them yourself, I doubt you'll end up with far too much salt. I have recipes that call for a teaspoon of salt for something that serves 6-8. 1 "serving" of salt is something like 1/4 tsp, and that's well under RDA for the day.

2
76f3ead3aa977d876bcf3331d35a36e9

(4620)

on April 13, 2012
at 07:30 PM

I've always thought that optimal salt intake is one of the things that can vary greatly from person to person. It's a bit of cognitive dissonance for me; I've seen some paleo people recommend a potassium:sodium ratio upwards of 16:1, yet through experimentation I find I feel best at a ratio as low as 2:1. I tend to have low-ish blood pressure though. I usually go by taste. If I'm feeling salty, I'll have some salt.

Here's a wacky idea (that is probably completely bogus): if magnesium and other minerals are much lower in our water supply today than they used to be, maybe sodium is too? Maybe water was a bit more salty way back when? Cure my paleo salty cognitive dissonance!

2
7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on April 13, 2012
at 07:02 PM

I had to add salt back in. At this point I even add a pinch when I brew coffee. My blood pressure tends to be low. When you go paleo, your salt intake drops dramatically just by virtue of avoiding processed foods. It is a good idea to salt to taste under these conditions. Some athletes even have to supplement with it. I believe I have heard this a few times from others as well- low blood pressure and related side effects. I think some of the original research may have underestimated what our ancestors did when they actually found salt in their environments. Deer seem to go pretty crazy on it; why wouldn't our ancestors do so as well, and start carrying it around at the first available opportunity?

2
B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on April 13, 2012
at 06:28 PM

Salt helps me sleep (really noticed that when I added salt after 2 weeks of zero-carbing), stabilizes my blood sugar and makes my meal tastier. Go for it! http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/salt.shtml

1
35ba1f50dad25c85ac1aa2599fe5c5cb

(2485)

on April 13, 2012
at 10:20 PM

I wouldn't add a lot of salt to your broth, but frankly, eating clean paleo foods cuts a LOT of sodium out of your diet. I eat a restricted sodium diet due to a health condition, and I sometimes STILL need to salt my food to get UP to 1200mg. Unless you're eating good sized servings of bacon, luncheon meat or cheese on a regular basis (not the best paleo foods anyway), and particularly if you're active, you're probably absolutely fine adding salt to your bone broths.

0
Medium avatar

(167)

on August 15, 2014
at 07:48 AM

Wars have been fought over salt. Salt is one of the most basic things out bodies need. If people didn't live near the ocean or near giant salt deposits, they still got salt from high-sodium vegetables like celery.

Your body should be pretty good at letting you know when it needs more salt, and when it's had enough. Salt your broth until it tastes good to you, and if you develop an aversion to salt, that's your body telling you it's had enough. :)

0
A70f601216d8471416d3e58b619dc7cd

on March 02, 2014
at 08:21 PM

My friend and wise person, I wish to share with you this article I wrote: You may find it elucidating. Feel free to contact me if you wish to discuss it. I'd be happy to. www.mjstar6.wix.com/earthprayer

HOW A SELF-MODULATING NO-SALT DIET FOR EXPANDS CONSCIOUSNESS AND EMPOWERS YOUR TRUE SELF.

~ by Mattheo Sherrill

Every act of self-depravation -in moderation- strengthens the will and creates space between You and the ego. The ego is the set of false selves that are afraid of relaxing into Love, Truth and Pleasure. It is also the protectors that believe they are protecting you -and they may be- from harm. When we identify with the ego we funnel our energy away from our body-mind which creates many, diseases in all dimensions of being.

Think of all pleasures as having the potential to be relatively addictive. Some of the more obvious ones are food, sugar, alcohol, work, tv, movies, games, sex and so on. While none of these are bad nor wrong, the nature of the human body-mind is to alleviate pain and suffering. We are hardwired for it. We even have a pharmacopeia of medicine inside our endocrine system to help us “not feel” during times of intense stress. The sad truth is that many of us find ourselves under intense stress 24/7! Thus on a biological level we need to alleviate pain and suffering experienced in childhood. This may have been a loud noise that we never cleared. It may be an emotionally abusive parent or sibling that we lived with for decades. It may be the culture and mental programming that we gullibly believed, lending us to feel emotions that cause anxiety. Whatever your cocktail is or was, if you haven’t consciously cleared these believes and emotions from your mind, they rest in your psyche somewhere. Henceforth the need to pacify the pain. This anti-pathic effect that I speak of -that we all at times choose- can be likened to morphine, or other pain-killer drugs.

I’ve been able to see these patterns inside of me, specifically when I am feeling fear. A spacey, nonchalant, mildly blissful, state of consciousness overtakes my mind. As a Witness to states of consciousness -not identified with the mind of my body- Light is able to penetrate my psyche waking up the body-mind to it’s addiction. You can do this too.

Though immensely seductive, this neptunian-morphine-like state is not in one’s highest good. (As an aside, be especially on the look-out for this state of consciousness if you have any Neptune or Piscean aspects or influences in your chart. My natal sun squares neptune and I have 3 planets in the 12th house)

My own journey of becoming aware of this state within myself, i.e., detaching from this state, is since I personally went of salty and sweet foods 60 days ago. (I’ve also moved to Ashland, Oregon) As a result of those changes, I’ve noticed the following effects:

1. I am easily choosing to stop eating when I’m full. Prior to this, I was basically unable to self-regulate and would over-consume food. I believe this is because the strong flavors of salty, sweet, and to a slighter degree sour, have addictive effects in our systems and we override the messages of our true body-mind. As if it wasn’t difficult to listen to the body already for us humans!

2. I can taste and feel the inherent flavor and personality in foods and as above, by way of those sensations, can self-regulate and make empowering choices.

3. My intuition and inner voice are both stronger and more easily heard. I get clear communication from my higher self as how to help my ego evolve. The recommendation to prayer, self-depravation, and activities that empower me are more easily heard and taken heed of.

4. I’ve stopped thinking about food and find my focus on my passions, such as writing this essay, as much and can sense a mutually supportive connection between myself and food. It is like I respect the power and potential addictiveness of food and flavor enough to have a healthy relationship with the big 3: salty, sweet and sour.

5. My essential Witness Self is way more present in my every moment. I feel that addictions of all kinds strengthen the ego-identification and lessen our ability to see as the eagle sees, as the neutral all-infusing Witness. To walk with the Witness is essential if we wish to deconstruct our psyche and Live in Peace on Earth.

During this journey of self-depravation I’ve also been off sex. That’s not to say I haven’t self-pleasured, though, I have intended to reach the edge of ejaculation and not let that wave crash, which can have addictive pulls. Based on my experiments, I highly recommend you get aware of your addictions. What are they? List the potential ones. Can you deprive yourself of a little each day, each time you use one of your addictions? (Truly I recommend going off them completely and if you have enough desire to live in your radiance, you can use them consciously but not before you are able to do so.)

I believe that are addictions are what keep us from being able and honest with ourselves and to feel our emotions of the past. These emotions and their potency are actually why we appropriated the addictions in the first place. Our life-force is tied up in these emotions and if we can address our addictions, our emotions will naturally arise. When we can get the assistance -and we will, be it messy or clean or a combination thereof- we can reclaim our life-force and use it to make a beautiful life for ourselves in the Here and Now.

You must address addictions and uncover the emotions and stories held in your psyche and body.

Try going off salty and sweet for 3 weeks completely and see what happens. You could also go off of meat and grains if you desire, and you may find a whole new level of consciousness arise within you, for your own joy to experience. If you choose to do this, you may need emotional support. Please do not hesitate to schedule a session with me, or perhaps be a part of my 1-month to 12 month Programs of Body-Mind-Life Transformation. Are you ready to assist humanity into an age of Light? You gotta do it for yourself first! We need you to step up, Rainbow Warriors!

0
Cc69a51b427eaad36251cce9dcca4d3a

(1074)

on July 25, 2013
at 08:37 PM

salt is bad for you. excessive salt causes autoimmunity through activation of T helper 17 cells. makes you fat through inflammation, water retention and excessive appetite. think about it, even the biggest junk foods like pizza would be bland without any salt in it. cut it out and eat unprocessed foods, you'll meet your sodium needs while getting more potassium to increase the K+/Na+ ratio. our Hunter Gatherer ancestors ate more K+ and less Na+, we're the opposite due to our added salt + processed foods.

0
7cc42340b625a3eec047c2675e296f8e

(0)

on November 27, 2012
at 06:37 AM

I disagree with Grocket about sugar. Sugar is addicting. Addictions exist for a reason, but they existed when the supermarkets weren't so plentiful.

0
De267f213b375efca5da07890e5efc25

(3747)

on April 13, 2012
at 06:36 PM

I think there's some truth to minimizing salt intake. Cordain claims it contributes to Osteoporosis but I don't recall the reason why. Otherwise, sodium can be found in a variety of foods and numbers I've read are much much lower than 1500mg for healthy living. It seems to be well tolerated but like sugar the processed food industry tests those limits. I'm not surprised that there's lots of studies showing that it doesn't cause this or that but it's hard to prove that it doesn't cause anything. For a counter example, consider sleep apnea, which is suspected to be mediated in some cases by a high salt diet. I say treat it like sugar - a sprinkle here and there isn't going to be a big deal but conservatism is warranted.

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