Salt – Health Hero or Deadly Villain?

A cavewoman is poring too much salt in the food
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The world’s oldest food additive, sodium chloride (NaCl), is essential to physical wellness, but consuming too much can cause a wide range of ailments—some leading to early death.

Cavemen knew of salt’s benefits long before history recorded them. They understood that salt helps preserve fruits, vegetables and meats by retarding spoilage. They knew salt enhances the taste of food, too. And although they had no access to the biological research we have now, they probably guessed that salt had something to do with health.

Inside the human body, sodium (Na) plays a role in muscle contraction, including your heartbeat. It facilitates nerve impulses and the digestion of protein for body-building, while regulating the body’s water balance and osmotic pressure at the cellular level.

The other component of salt, Chloride (Cl), is essential to good health, too. It preserves pH balance in the body, assists in potassium absorption and helps your blood carry carbon dioxide (CO2) to your lungs from respiring tissues. It is also helps produce the digestive acid in your stomach.

The average human body contains about eight ounces of salt, which is regulated by your kidneys as well as perspiration. Consuming too little salt can cause muscle cramping, nervous system malfunctions and even death. But how much is sufficient to function well?

To maintain good health, America’s National Academy of Sciences recommends the consumption of a minimum of 500mg of sodium per day—which isn’t much at all. One serving of condensed tomato soup contains 480mg. A single tablespoon of soy sauce has 1,160mg—a two-day supply!

Ignoring sodium levels in processed food, many adults consume 6,000mg to 9,000mg per day, even though excessive salt intake has been shown to pose serious health risk. It has been linked to such ailments as asthma, heart attack, high blood pressure, hypertension, osteoporosis, stomach cancer and stroke.

Cavemen didn’t have to be told this, but perhaps we do: salt exists naturally in fish, meat and produce. If you eat natural, whole foods, like a caveman would, no additional salt is required. To maintain wellness, eliminate extra salt.

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IDA is the kind-hearted cook who also takes care of the children. This is perhaps the most difficult job in the tribe.

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