Salt Deficiency: The Benefits of a High Salt Diet, by Sophia Ruiz

salt deficiency

A salt deficiency is more common than you think. We don’t consume nearly as much as we should, mostly because of our fear that salt causes high blood pressure.

the salt myth

What comes to mind when you think of salt?

Probably high blood pressure. it’s time to change the stigma around salt!

A recent study was conducted that followed 2,600 women and men for 16 years. they found no evidence to suggest that a low-sodium diet lowered blood pressure — in fact, those that consumed 4,000mg of sodium per day had the lowest recorded blood pressure in the study.

The study also presents evidence for the blood-pressure-lowering benefits of essential minerals like magnesium, potassium, and calcium — those that had a balanced diet of these minerals along with a higher sodium intake had more stable blood pressure over the long term.

The decrease in blood pressure that some experience from cutting salt intake is not a result of true lowered blood pressure, but rather a decrease in blood volume.

ancestral salt consumption

In ancient times, some cultures, like the Romans, ate upwards of 25g of salt per day and others even up to 100g!

While we may only eat muscle meat today, our ancestors ate the whole animal: the bones, blood, organs, brains, and more. the blood and interstitial fluid itself could provide a week’s worth of sodium!

Before refrigerators, salt was used to preserve food and hence, we had a much higher salt intake.

the benefits of salt

Increased circulation/vasodilation: Sodium increases circulation and blood volume and dilates blood vessels. This is important for transporting nutrients into tissues and cells and regulating heart rate.

Better gym performance: Salt helps to remove acid from cells that can cause muscle cramping and stiffness.

Weight loss: A lot of weight loss programs use calorie-counting to encourage weight loss but forget about vital weight loss tips like restoring insulin sensitvity. Improving a salt deficiency can remove one of the factors that can cause insulin resistance. Since the body uses insulin to signal the kidneys to store sodium when levels become depleted, a chronic salt deficiency results in adverse effects on insulin levels and glucose tolerance that can promote fat storage. A successful weight loss plan should emphasize the importance of healthy salts.

Thyroid function: During one hour of exercise, you can lose up to 110mcg of iodine through your sweat. Consuming iodine-rich salt like himalayan pink salt can help to replenish this thyroid-boosting mineral.

Decreased stress levels: One of the least acknowledged stress causes is a salt deficiency. low salt intake activates the sympathoadrenal system that results in stress symptoms like increased heart rate, promotes insulin resistance, and hypertension. Eating a diet with adequate salt reduces the activation of the stress system that is caused by a salt deficiency, allowing you to focus on external stress management.

Better digestion: One of the key components of the digestive system is stomach acid — which is composed of hydrogen chloride gas and water. Salt promotes digestive health by providing chloride to the body and promoting the production of healthy stomach acid levels. this prevents digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, and dysbiosis.

Reduces brain fog: Sufficient salt intake provides the electrolytes needed for neurons to fire properl

Prevents addictive behaviors: In a state of salt deficiency, our body compensates by hyperactivating the dopamine reward system in the brain. This is to encourage us to satisfy the craving for salt, but it can also exaggerate the effects of things that stimulate the release of dopamine — like sugar and cocaine.

the right salts

Iodized table salt doesn’t have all of the extra minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium that are essential for the body. Himalayan pink salt, celtic sea salt, or salts from ancient oceans are much healthier and beneficial to our bodies. Dr. James DiNicolantonio advocates for 3,000-6,000mg of salt per day.

ways to increase salt intake

Citrus “salt juice”: Add 1/4 tsp of one of the salts listed above to 8-12oz of water with a squeeze of lemon or lime to neutralize the salty taste of the water. Slowly start to increase the amount of salt until it becomes too salty for you. This is a super easy way to boost your salt intake.

Always salt your food: Salting all of your food to taste makes sure you are getting a dose of sodium at each meal.

Dose salt before a gym run: We lose a lot of salt when we exercise, so it’s important to make sure you’re replenishing your salt levels. Dosing a teaspoon of salt with lots of citrus in some water before the gym can help you to maintain your salt levels.

Drink mineral water: Water from natural mineral-rich springs contain beneficial minerals and salt that can provide a natural sodium source.

A healthy part of a wellness lifestyle is including healthy salts in your diet. I hope this post cures your salt phobia and encourages you to make salt part of your daily routine!

Sophia Ruiz is a freelance writer, wellness blogger, and trained esthetician from San Francisco, CA, now living in Toledo, OH. She shares science-based health, fitness, and lifestyle tips. Learn more about Sophia on

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/curvenutrition

Website: CurveWellness.com

 

 

 

Advertisements

You Hear You Should Eat More Plant-based Protein, But Where Do You Begin?

Eat more plants, eat the rainbow, eat your veggies.  These terms might be the new green of the nutrition world, but there is good reason.  Plants provide fibre, phytonutrients, phytosterols, decrease inflammation in the body, regulate blood sugar, increase immunity, do not clog arteries, lower cholesterol and provide a source of protein that is not a saturated fat that you would get from an animal source.

What does this mean? A plate that is filled with at least half (or more) of colourful veg means clearer skin, better gut health, less bloat, less blood sugar spikes and crashes, less illness, more energy and lowered risk of disease. Sounds like our parents weren’t just nagging us to eat up, they were on to something.

So, what are plant-based proteins and how do you get them in to your diet? You might already be incorporating plenty of plants into your meals and not even know it. The only catch with plant-based proteins is that most are not complete, meaning they do not contain all the amino acids that an animal protein would contain.  The good news is that all you have to do is combine a few different plants throughout your day and you make yourself a complete protein. They each contain different amino acids so you are sure to cover them if you eat a variety each day.

Here is a list of some easy-to-find plant-based proteins that you can add into your meals to benefit from all the wholesome goodness that they have to offer us, naturally.

Oats: (26g protein/cup) A nutrient-rich cereal grain that is demulcent and soothing to the digestive system. Enjoy them as overnight oats, turn them in to a dairy-free oat milk, breakfast cooking, or add them into smoothies.

breakfast cookies

Hemp Hearts: (9g protein/oz) This is the nutritious heart of the hemp seed that has a nutty flavour and does not need to be cooked. These add a nice crunch to salads, granola or yogurt, or blend them up with almonds for a delicious non-diary milk.

Chia Seeds: (5g protein/oz) These tiny seeds are native to Mexico and have changed many lives in the plant-based community.  They absorb 10 times their weight in water, so you will want to make sure they are either soaked first, or you eat them with a liquid. Because they grow in size, they keep you full longer and add great bulk to smoothies, granola and pudding. Our favourite way to enjoy them is with coconut milk in a chia pudding, either for breakfast or as a dessert.

Nuts: (7g protein/oz) Nuts, particularly walnuts and almonds, are high in plant-based protein and high in fibre. Ground nuts make a wonderful pie crust, dairy-free milk, topping on salads or yogurt. It is really simple to add nuts in to your meals as they can be eaten raw. Also try nut butters and nut oils on salads. Aim for the raw or dry roasted, unsalted, varieties. Nuts should be stored in your freezer as they can go rancid easily.

Nutritional Yeast: (9g protein/2 Tblsp) aka, “nooch”, is a new fave in the plant-based world. If you are lucky, you can find a brand that is fortified with vitamin B12, which does not normally exist naturally in plant-based foods. These dry flakes give a cheesy, nutty flavour that is naturally low in sodium but still packs alot of flavour. Nutritional yeast can be turned into a dairy-free cheese sauce, a vegan “parmesan”, and crisps up nicely on roasted chick peas.

crunchy chick peas

Quinoa: (8g protein/cup) Considered a superfood, this seed that is eaten like a grain and has more nutritional value and protein than other plants. It makes a great alternative to rice, when boiled, and can also be popped like popcorn, when dry. The seeds can also be soaked and sprouted for easier digestion. Once a week, make a big pot of cooked quinoa and add it to salads, stuff it into peppers for dinners, use it in wraps and homemade granola, to sneak in extra protein throughout your days.

Flax Seeds: (6g protein/oz) Most beneficial when ground, flax seeds contain the most omega 3, which is anti-inflammatory, skin, brain and heart healthy. It is a source of phytoestrogen and lignans for women’s health,  and antioxidants for boosting the immune system. Flax naturally gels when mixed with water, so it is often used as an egg replacement in vegan baking. Add ground flax to granola, bliss balls, cereals, in baked goods, on yogurt and in smoothies.  Also try flax oil in salad dressing or on its own for it’s blood sugar-regulating properties.

Pumpkin Seeds: (9g/oz) Rich in antioxidants and magnesium, these powerhouses are beneficial for men’s health, post-menopausal health, heart health and immunity. Enjoy them raw or roast them and add them to salads for a nutty crunch.

Spirulina: (39g protein/oz) A blue-green algae that packs nutritional value, protein and flavour. It is often used in detox programs and face maks!, as it pulls heavy metals from the body and is anti-microbial. It provides energy so avoid using at night. Add it into smoothies for a blood sugar-balancing, uplifting morning pick-me-up.

Beans: (15-17g protein/cup) Soybeans are complete, the other beans can be combined with other vegetables for the 9 amino acids to make them a complete protein. If you have trouble digesting beans, try soaking and sprouting them for a day or two to release the phytic acid that causes tummy troubles in some. Otherwise, steam them lightly and add them to salads and side dishes, roast them for a crunchy snack, turn them into heart-healthy hummus, or cook them with veggies for a delicious chili.

Now that you have the tools to increase your energy, reduce your risk of illness, improve your gut health, boost your immunity and give your skin a glow, what are you waiting for? Fill that plate up with a colourful array of veggies and sprinkle it all with some nuts and seeds.  There you go, you are eating more plant-based protein.

Jen Casey is a Holistic Nutritionist with Next Bite Nutrition Coaching in Vancouver, BC. She focuses her practice on women’s wellness and building a solid foundation for the pillars of health. Learn more about Jen and her healthy meal plans on Instagram.

A Holistic Nutritionist Shares 3 Steps to Going Grain-free

If you follow a ketogenic or paleo diet, you have probably already eliminated grains.  Others, who do not follow a specific “diet”, choose to cut just the wheat due to sensitivities, digestion issues or allergies, and some choose to avoid any and all grains to help reduce carb cravings and get on track to healthy eating.  You see, all those grains make up the tempting snacks and treats that contribute to high blood sugar and can lead to weight gain.
Whatever your reason for considering a grain-free way of life, know that there are healthy alternatives for most of your favorite snacks. Take these steps to gently ease yourself into new habits:
sandwich in basket
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com
1. Know your alternatives. Stock your pantry with alternative flours, like chickpea, almond and coconut. My go-to swap for rice is cauliflower “rice”. Simply pulse cauliflower in your food processor until fine, resembling little bits of rice. Alternatively, you can use a cheese grater. Gently steam the cauliflower, or warm in a fry pan with coconut oil, until soft. Use as an alternative to rice in stir-fry, wraps, or even as pasta.
2. Read all labels. Grains, particularly wheat and gluten, can hide in places like prepared sauces, gravies thickened with flour, binders, food coloring, beer, crackers, soups, some supplements and even in cosmetics. Keep yourself informed by knowing the alternative names for the ingredients you choose to avoid.
3. Meal prep. During the first few days of any new lifestyle or eating habits, it is important to be prepared, both with food and symptoms. By staying one step ahead with prepared meals, you can avoid the transition that some can find challenging. Include healthy fats and protein in your meals to help with satiety and blood sugar regulation. Take a meal-prep day and freeze smoothie packs, grain-free bliss balls, veggie sticks and fruit, overnight hemp heart puddings and mason jar salads.
Easing in to any new lifestyle and eating habits takes patience. Stay steps ahead by being prepared, get some healthy, grain-free meal plans on hand, and give yourself permission to re-assess what is and what is not working for your body and mind. It is all about feeling your best and only you know what that looks like.