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Salt 18 - 07 - 2002

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Salt Greetings to you all, Today we will address the subject of salt. Of course we all know that salt is not good for us but why? Here is an indebt look at salt compiled from the life science course, lesson written by Mike Benton. Salt is the most widely used condiment in the world. Table salt is an inorganic mineral compound composed of sodium and chlorine. It has antibiotic and preservative properties. Although not generally thought of as a poison, salt is deadly to all living organisms. A fatal dose of salt is usually about 113 g taken at one time. This is only 8 times more than the average person eats over a day. Salt is probably the most used seasoning in the world. You'll find it in almost every processed, prepared or preserved food. Even if no extra salt is added at the table, the average diet will still contain over 6 times what most nutritionist consider "safe" levels of salt usage. There are no safe levels of salt. Salt use has been defended on these 4 misconceptions: 1- Salt is necessary for life. 2- Salt improves the flavor of food 3- Salt promotes digestion 4- Salt is found in the bloodstream and must be an essential ingredient of the living organism. Let's look at each one of these believes and see if they are based upon any truth. You need salt to live: The most common defense for salt is that the body has certain sodium and chlorine mineral needs that the sodium chloride (table salt) crystals are thought to fulfill. The body to maintain a water balance, to integrate nervous functioning and to aid in the formation of digestive juices, uses sodium. Chlorine helps sustain normal heart activity, plays an important role in the body acid-alkaline balance and aids digestion and elimination. The body to meet any of its mineral requirements cannot use salt. Salt is an inorganic mineral that cannot be metabolized by the body. Salt enters the body as sodium chloride, it circulates in the body as sodium chloride, and it leaves the body as sodium chloride. At no point is it broken down and used as sodium and chlorine. If the body cannot use salt how can it be termed "necessary" to life? Does salt make food taste better? Even if people are convinced that salt has no nutritional use, they will still defend it as a flavor enhancer. Salt performs its flavoring by actually irritating the taste buds on our tongues. By inflaming the tongue, salt makes the taste buds more sensitive through chemical irritation, consequently we notice taste stimulation more, but we are not experiencing the actual flavor of the food in any greater amount. Does salt help digestion? Salt has been defended as an important aid in food digestion. Consider this: our body alone digests food. The enzymes and gastric juices produced by the body interact chemically with the food we eat as one of the stages of digestion. Sprinkle some salt on a slice of tomato. Does the salt digest the tomato? No. Salt is an inert substance - it ids a non-living, inactive mineral. It is stated that that the chloride ion in salt helps form the hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which is used to digest food. This too is false reasoning. The body in any way cannot metabolize the chlorine in salt. It does not enter into any body process. It remains bonded to the sodium atom. Organic chlorine as found in living foods can be incorporated in the production of hydrochloric acid, and thus "improve" digestion. The chlorine in salt, however, is inorganic and cannot help the digestive function in any way. Is salt an essential part of the blood? Since salt is found in the blood, people think that we must consume it for healthy blood. There are "salts" in the blood, and sodium chloride is amongst these other mineral salts. But does this prove that table salt is an essential ingredient of the bloodstream? A typical salt-eater has so much salt in the body that the body can never catch up on its elimination. We are probably capable of excreting around 200 mg of salt a day through the kidneys ( this is about as much salt as can be placed on the end of a sharp pointed knife) Most people eat 50 x that much. So where does all that salt go? It's stored in layers beneath the skin to be eliminated by perspiration, and it is also continually circulating in the bloodstream, waiting to be processed by the overworked kidneys. Of course there is salt in the bloodstream. There is also pesticide compounds, drug poisons and environmental toxins as well. Inorganic table salt is only a poison that the body must try to eliminate. Next week we will conclude this episode. Until then take care and stay well. The Crazy Nut Team

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