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6 Reasons to add sea salt to your diet

Did you know that sea salt has many health benefits? First, though, it’s important to understand that there’s a difference between table salt and sea salt.

Jeremy Yatt, Principal at Fedhealth explains that table salt is mined from underground salt deposits and then processed to remove minerals and other impurities. “From there, most table salt also has iodine and other chemicals added to prevent clumping. Sea salt, on the other hand, is obtained from evaporated sea water and compared to table salt is far less processed – which means it still contains essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium,” he says. Further noting that while in previous generations we’d get the minerals we needed from our food, modern farming methods have depleted our soils, so the food we grow has less of these minerals in it. Sea salt offers an affordable and natural way of adding them back into your diet.

Here, he lists six other health benefits of sea salt that you may not be aware of:

Balances electrolytes

Sea salt contains electrolytes which are vital for healthy muscles, brains and hearts. We lose electrolytes when we sweat, so a glass of water with sea salt added after exercise or during hot weather can help to replenish them and prevent muscle cramps. It’s also a more natural, healthy way of getting electrolytes as opposed to an electrolyte drink or powder, many of which contain sugar and preservatives.

Regulates your bodily fluids

It’s well known that having too much sodium in your diet can lead to high blood pressure, which is linked to conditions like heart failure, kidney problems and strokes. But at the same time, sodium (salt is comprised of sodium and chloride) also fulfils several crucial functions: it maintains normal blood pressure, supports your nerves and muscles, and regulates your body's fluid balance. So, eating small amounts of sea salt regularly can help you get the benefits, without being exposed to the risks.

Boosts the immune system

Sea salt is naturally alkaline, and health practitioners are starting to see the link between an alkaline body being able to keep more bacterial and viral infections at bay, since these thrive in an acidic environment. The minerals mentioned earlier that are found in sea salt, such as zinc, iron, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium and potassium, are also proven immune system boosters.

Good for healthy skin

Because of its mineral content, sea salt is a natural detox agent which, when used externally, can remove impurities from the skin and provide it with nutrients. It’s also an exfoliating agent that can help remove dead skin cells and improve circulation. It’s high mineral content makes it a natural anti-inflammatory too, which can treat skin problems such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema. Many beauty scrubs available contain sea salt, but you could make your own by mixing sea salt with things like honey, citrus peel and coconut oil.

Helps regulate the adrenal glands

Our modern lifestyle is seeing a rise in adrenal fatigue, which is a direct result of stress and poor diets. Among their other functions, adrenal glands release hormones that regulate sodium and potassium in the body. Including sea salt in your diet can be a good way of ensuring that you’re obtaining a balance of these minerals, which improves the functioning of your adrenal gland. It’s worth noting that healthy adrenal function is also dependent on other lifestyle factors, such as stress levels and how much you exercise, and all of these have a direct impact on your medical aid costs.

Improves digestion

Did you know that digestion starts when we chew our food? Amylase is an enzyme in our saliva that helps to start the primary breakdown of carbohydrates before they enter our stomach – and this enzyme is activated by the flavour of salt. Sea salt also stimulates the secretion of hydrochloric acid in your stomach, which is crucial in promoting the breakdown of food – particularly protein – before it moves into the intestines. A lack of hydrochloric acid can lead to digestive issues such as bloating, gas, heartburn and, in more serious cases, diseases like leaky gut syndrome.

Like most things in life, moderation is key – so while a little bit of salt is beneficial, too much can have negative consequences. Where possible, opt for sea salt over table salt: currently, one kilogram of table salt costs around R20 whereas a kilogram of sea salt costs approximately R30. So although it’s slightly more expensive, it’s well worth it for all these added benefits to your health.

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