Giving up sugar was clearly a battle for me. But salt? I never realized just how addicted I was until I tried to let go of certain ‘healthy’ foods, like tamari tofu and vegemite corn crackers (yeah, I’m Aussie..)
I’d happily eat my fruits and veggies and then at about 3 o’clock the calling for salty foods would come on so strong that my mind couldn’t rest until I’d got my fix.
I’d cave in and then find myself wanting more and more, leading me to overeat and eat things off my plan.
Now I can see just how hooked I was, and how salt, even more than sugar, was at the heart of my overeating problems…
But we need Salt, don’t we?
Yes, we absolutely do need sodium. Sodium ions help maintain the fluid in our blood cells and also transmit information in our nerves and muscles.
Certain nutrients in our small intestines also require sodium for their uptake into cells. What we don’t need is sodium chloride from table salt, sea salt, Himalayan rock salt, and any ‘foods’ or condiments with added salt.
Sodium chloride is an inorganic mineral and, as such, cannot be effectively processed by the body.
What’s so bad about Salt?
You probably know this already but let’s just recap on why the world’s favorite condiment is something you should consider banishing from your diet in your quest for optimal health:
- Salt raises blood-pressure, hypertension and the risk for heart disease and premature death.
- Salt leads to atherosclerosis and stroke.
- Salt is an appetite stimulant and encourages you to overeat, leading to weight-gain and obesity.
- Salt consumption puts enormous strain on the kidneys and liver whose job is to filter out this toxic chemical and excrete it from the body. Kidneys can only process minute amounts of salt at a time, so the body ends up storing salt instead.
Salt, like alcohol, is a protoplasmic poison (a toxic substance which degenerates and eventually kills cells).
It is so irritating to our cells that the body triggers a thirst response and then retains water in order to dilute the salt consumed, thereby protecting the cells from its damaging effects.
Salt IS addictive
It has been scientifically proven that salt acts in the brain in a similar way to hard drugs, triggering dopamine and giving a pleasurable response.
Anthropological studies on tribes who have never consumed salt found that they initially displayed repulsion when first introduced to salty foods, but that within days were actually requesting those very same foods.
Companies know this and use salt, sugar and fat in their products to keep you hooked. Food corporations have become like drug-pushing pharmaceutical and tobacco companies; there is a LOT of money invested in keeping you coming back for more.
Salt cravings and mineral deficiency
These days our soils are so drastically depleted of minerals that, even if you eat loads of fruits and vegetables, cravings for salt may indicate a deficiency.
If you still notice that you’re craving salt after about a week or two of complete abstinence, you may need to increase the mineral sources in your diet.
Consuming lots of dark leafy green vegetables, Green juices and green smoothies can make a massive difference.
If you’re craving a condiment of some kind, try lemon juice or dehydrated celery power.
Sometimes, even this is not enough and a high quality multi-vitamin and mineral supplement can help. But bear in mind that supplements are toxic to the body because they contain vitamins and minerals in an inorganic form. They should only be used sparingly and certainly not every day.
It’s much better to go for green juices, which provide a concentrated form of nutrients easily assimilated into the bloodstream.
How to live without salt in the real world…
When you crave salt, do you just want to reach for the salt shaker? There are those rare individuals that do, but what most of us want is usually a high calorie, fatty and/or sugary food.
When you crave salt, often you are craving a dense calorie source, not necessarily just the salt.
This understanding gave me some insight into how to stop the cravings. I realized that if I am simply eating enough, then half the battle’s over.
There are also particular foods like spinach, bananas and almonds, high in key minerals, which help to cleanse the body of excess salt.
And once that salt is out of your system you’ll notice your cravings subside.
If you, like me, identify as a salt-aholic, then there’s only one way you’re going to kick this drug, and that’s complete abstinence.
But that doesn’t have to mean bland food. The body is an amazing organism. With days you will have a whole new set of taste buds and you will begin to taste and relish the real flavor of unprocessed foods.
Conclusion – If you’ve been trying to eat healthy or go raw for a while now with limited success, then consider that it may be salt, rather than sugar, that’s holding you back.
Begin to notice what kinds of foods your body craves. Pay attention to what happens after you eat salty foods. Once you become aware of the effect of certain foods on your body there is simply no turning back. But that’s a good thing.
There’s nothing like the feeling of true health, that only a clean diet, free of enervating foods can give you. It’s absolutely worth the journey. So who’s coming on the ride with me?
Anthea Frances is an author, raw food health coach and host of the Raw Life Summit series. Grab a copy of her free Balanced Raw Vegan Nutrition Checklist and start improving your health today!