Of all Tastes, Salt

Standard

Can that which is tasteless be eaten without salt?

–Job 6:6

 

To end our three post series on salt, let’s consider why you need more salt if you aren’t eating carbohydrates. Then, is there actually the slightest danger of you overdosing on salt if you’re eating real food?

The answer to the first question is bound up in our old friend (or for some of you, nemesis) insulin. Insulin has many jobs in the body, one of the most important for your weight being to tell your fat cells to keep their stores locked up so that the toxic sugar in your bloodstreamv from your whole grain pasta meal with a brownie for dessert can get burnt off as soon as possible. But another function of insulin is to tell your kidneys to hold on to their sodium stores. Once you ditch the Special K and granola bars, your insulin levels plummet. This signals to your kidneys to dump the sodium, which they do. They then dump water as well, which ends bloating for most people and is the reason why low-carb diets usually produce significant weight loss in the first week. Of course, the poor deluded people at this website will tell you that all the weight loss in low carb diets is just water.

Funny. I never knew I was carrying around 145 pounds of water. Has anyone investigated a DNA connection between humans and camels?

Anyway, this is the reason that people eating few carbs may feel lightheaded or dizzy or lethargic or get headaches. (It might also be the reason people who eat high-carb also feel lightheaded, dizzy, lethargic or get headaches if they’re on an insanely restricted sodium diets.) It’s simple to fix this with some extra salt or bouillon.

So is it possible to be getting too much salt on a low carb diet?

Not if you’re doing it right.

If your idea of “low carb” is nothing but bacon, sausage, hot dogs, deli meats, processed cheese and fast food burgers, you might be getting a lot of salt. But frankly that’s the least of your problems.

Let’s say you’re eating like me. So for breakfast you have some plain Greek yogurt, a cup of coffee with unsalted butter and coconut oil, and homemade breakfast sausage with a slice or two or cheddar cheese. Total sodium: 405mg

For lunch you eat three eggs, coconut milk, cacao powder, maple syrup and another tablespoon of MCT oil. Total sodium: about 100mg

For a snack you have some peanut butter and cheese. Total sodium: 360mg

For dinner you have a salad and some avocado and a lovely little desert prairie chicken that is quite small, but quite tasty: 209mg

And then let’s be generous and say that I liberally salted my chicken, which I did. A quarter teaspoon would be a lot of salt to come out of a shaker, but let’s imagine it did and that’s another 500mg.

Total for the day: 1,574mg

Eating nothing but real food, and salting everything liberally, I still just barely made it to the USDA or whoever’s 1,500mg per day ideal target.

Which is why I also took 3 salt tablets today (1,200mg more) and ate 1/8 teaspoon of salt directly from the container (another 250mg). If I don’t do that, I feel crappy and slow. And get nauseous. In fact, I’d probably feel even better if I took 3 more salt tablets, and I certainly would have if I’d gone outside to run around.

So the answer is: No. If you are eating good, real food you can’t possibly overdose on salt. So unplug the holes in that shaker, folks, get some real salt (not the junk table salt garbage) and start shaking. When your doctor asks if you’re watching your salt, tell him Yes, I watch my salt. I watch it as it blows over my food like a Lilliputian blizzard. And then quote for him some of these proverbs, that cover the world:

 

  • Don’t buy the salt if you haven’t licked it yet –Congolese
  • Trust no one till you have eaten a bushel of salt with him. –German (A similar proverb can be found in many other countries)
  • What is salt to tasteless food, what is a word to a foolish head? –Turkish
  • Eternity makes room for a salty cucumber.  –Russian
  • Even on old goat likes to lick salt.  –Hungarian
  • The lucky eagle kills a mouse that has eaten salt –Ugandan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intermission

Standard

Get your facts, please, and then you can distort ‘em as much as you please.

-Mark Twain

I haven’t had time to sit down and do the final installment on salt. In the interim, however, I cannot too highly recommend ‘s latest blog post. In which she takes apart a recent British “health” program with such salient gems as these:

What this experiment has done is to make food less digestible so that it doesn’t produce the physiological changes that occur when the body registers that we have eaten food. The ultimate indigestible substance would be the cardboard box from which the pasta came. “But that would be stupid – it has no nutrients“, I hear you cry and you would hit the nail on the head. This experiment seems to completely disregard the reason why we eat. We eat food because we need nutrients to survive: essential fats; complete proteins; vitamins and minerals. This experiment is celebrating indigestibility – the pointlessness of eating something.

 

You have to love it when someone can boil down the presentation of a major Western news outlet and several well-educated doctors in such a lovely manner.

 

 

 

Salis Est Vita

Standard

All your emulation centers on the saltworks; instead of ploughs and scythes, you work rollers whence comes all your gain. Upon your industry all other products depend for, although there may be someone who does not seek gold, there never yet lived the man who does not desire salt…

–Cassidorus, A.D. 523, writing of Venice

We’ve considered the importance of salt in history and the basic physiological process that need salt. Clearly salt is not a poison that we should avoid at all costs. The big question is how much salt is necessary, and how much salt is too much. Will eating salt drive up my blood pressure?

Let’s start with the last question. Does it drive up blood pressure? Well…yes and no. Does salt play a role in blood pressure regulation? Absolutely yes. But oxygen plays a role in house fires. You can’t burn to death in your bedroom without plenty of oxygen around; but that doesn’t mean you should hermetically seal your home and try to keep oxygen levels to the bare minimum needed for survival. It would be much more effective to stop smoking in bed or using that twenty-five-year old electric blanket.

 So there’s no disputing that salt plays a role of some kind in the process of blood pressure regulation. In studies like this one, 51% of people with hypertension showed a higher sensitivity to salt, while only 26% of non-hypertensives showed that kind of sensitivity.

SO! Salt does drive up blood pressure! I told you! Pass the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Salt.

Wait just a second, because that’s not the whole story.

Continue reading

Salty Dog Blues

Standard

Let me be your salty dog

Or I won’t be your man at all

Honey, let me be your salty dog.

Salty Dog Blues, the Morris Brothers version

I’ve been meaning to get to salt for a while and finally it’s time. Salt is an enormous issue in the world of food. Some people view salt crystals as little granules of plague; other people view it as a life-saver. There’s also confusion about salt and sodium. Simply put, salt is sodium and chloride together. 1g of salt has about 394g of sodium. As is usual here at askmehowithappened, we’re going to preface our discussion by just coming right out and saying it:

1. Salt is absolutely essential, and it is very hard to eat too much of it if you’re eating real food.

2. There is very poor evidence linking a high sodium diet to heart disease; there is mounds of evidence that a low sodium diet does nothing whatsoever to help your blood pressure problems.

3. You are much more at risk from a low sodium diet than from a high sodium one.

So let’s talk about the evidence, and of course before we do that we’ll have to talk about the history. This is partly because I like history, but mostly because history tells us that our current fear of salt is irrational.

Continue reading

Death March

Standard

The sky is high, the clouds are pale,
We watch the wild geese vanish southward.
If we fail to reach the Great Wall we are not men.

–Mao Zedong (Mount Liupan)

Over the last few years I have heard and read a lot of people who insist that exercise is dependent upon carbohydrates to some degree or another. Some of them will assert that this is the case for just about any exercise other than taking a leisurely stroll, such as these guys at the bodybuilders.com website:

Continue reading

Yoiks and Away!

Video

 

–Daffy Duck

 

I keep meaning to write about salt, and then I get busy and before I can I see insanity like what I’m about to share with you today. I feel constantly compelled to write about it lest someone be fooled by it. Of course no one is actually reading my blog and thousands of people are reading these articles, so it’s much like hoping you can stop a tornado with a really powerful desk fan.

First in the WAIT JUST A COTTON-PICKIN’ MINUTE category we have this headline: N.J., Del, still getting fatter, says report; Pa already is. (Any of you who work in editing might be advised to calm down. Don’t smack the desk with your head. It’ll only hurt.) Now first, weren’t we just told a few months ago that we’re not getting fatter anymore? That we’d reached Maximum Fatness? More importantly…are these people serious?!?!? Here’s the explanation from the brain trust behind this study:

Continue reading

Mass Confusion

Standard

Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

There are many confusing things in the world today. Just scroll through the headlines.

I know I’m confused. For example, I’m confused about why anyone cares if Alec Baldwin yelled at someone again? And I’m really perplexed about why anyone with the sense God gave a squirrel–celebrity or not–would take a picture of themselves naked and then put it into a “cloud” of digital information that is out of their own control. Why are people confused that nations that have been enemies for all of their existence are shooting at and invading one another? And those are just the first three questions that popped into my head after scanning this morning’s headlines.

Continue reading