pink salt
Salt has been an essential part of civilization since as far back as 6000 B.C. It has been the subject of stories, fables and fairy tales, served as currency and has been the focal point of warfare. In the human body, salt is needed for numerous functions from blood sugar regulation to nerve communication to bone density to circulatory health. If that weren't enough, salt tastes great. Humans have an innate craving for salt and it is an integral part of food seasoning. No pantry is complete without it. Despite such an illustrious history of use, salt is the most maligned and misunderstood mineral on Earth. It's blamed for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease and we're constantly being told to curb its use or die a horrible death.

Is this simply a case of mistaken identity? Is salt serving as the fall guy for other dietary substances? Will salt ever receive the apology it deserves?
Join us for this episode of The Health and Wellness Show as we discuss one of our favorite crystalline compounds.

Running Time: 01:00:21

Download: MP3

Here's the transcript of the show:

Erica: Hello and welcome to the Health and Wellness Show. Today is Friday, October 19 and joining me, Erica in our virtual studio are Tiffany and Doug.

Doug: Hello.

Tiffany: Hello.

Erica: Today our topic is The Assault on Salt. Salt has been an essential part of our civilization since as far back as 6,000 BC. It's the subject of stories, fables, fairy tales, served as a currency and has been the focus point of warfare, sometimes called salt wars. In the human body salt is needed for numerous functions from blood sugar regulation to nerve communication, bone density to circulatory health. If that weren't enough, salt tastes great.

Humans have an innate craving for salt and it's an integral part of food seasoning. No pantry is complete without it. Despite such an illustrious history of use, salt is the most maligned and misunderstood mineral on earth and is blamed for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease. We're constantly told to curb its use or die a horrible death. {laugher}

So is it simply a case of mistaken identity? Is salt serving as the fall guy for other criminal substances and will salt ever receive the apology it deserves? So join us today. Feel free to call in, share your ideas.

Tiffany: Share your salty stories.

Erica: You can also share in the chat any information or grand thoughts on salt.

Tiffany: Nobody's in the chat.

Doug: Yeah I noticed that too.

Tiffany: Maybe they're all off salting their houses or something.

Erica: So where do we begin?

Tiffany: Let's begin at the beginning, the very beginning of time when everything was...

Erica: Salt was salty. {laughter}

Tiffany: ...first formed.

Doug: (bad audio)

Tiffany: Doug, you're breaking up.

Erica: Start again Doug.

Doug: (bad audio)

Erica: He's coming in and out.

Tiffany: Reconnect Doug.

Doug: Oh. I'm here. I can hear you guys but maybe you can't hear me.

Tiffany: You were breaking up. We just couldn't hear what you were saying so start over.

Doug: I was just going to say because salt obviously is very necessary for our health, it must have been around even before (bad audio) valued salt. Animals...

Tiffany: It's happening again Doug.

Doug: Am I breaking up again?

Tiffany: Yeah. You might want to re-connect.

Doug: Will do.

Tiffany: Have you got some history Erica?

Erica: Well I know that all mammals need salt to survive. So much of our body is salt too. I was reading that it was almost two to three cups of salt in our body at any time.

Tiffany: Really?

Erica: So it's really an essential part of survival so our cells can communicate and we are rapidly taking in salt but also losing salt as well. So things like caffeine consumption can cause us to lose up to a teaspoon of salt and exercising also; for about an hour we lose about half a teaspoon of salt. Sugar consumption also causes a loss of salt. So this idea that you need to cut your salt intake or not eat so much is really misguided and it seems like with a lot of the information out there, the science is not settled at all and even the FDA has admitted that, when they started to encourage what they called voluntary recommendations because the science isn't really settled.

Tiffany: They make it seem like the science is settled.

Doug: They do.

Tiffany: They make it seem like they tested a whole bunch of people from all over the planet and came up with a scientific explanation for why you need only certain amounts of salt. But it's really just what people thought people should be having. It's not tested at all.

Doug: Yeah. The other thing is that the human body and even animal bodies are incredibly efficient at getting rid of excess salt. That mechanism is solid. When the liver detects there's too much salt in the blood it tells the kidneys, "stop retaining salt". It tells the intestines to stop absorbing salt and even if the salt does start to accumulate, it has a mechanism for pushing it out to the skin so that you just sweat it out. The idea that if you go slightly over 2,300 mgs of sodium in a day you're going to die is ridiculous.

Erica: What's interesting too is that salt deficiency is not something that you experience other than feeling sick and ill. With being salt deficient it would be hard to know if you're not getting enough salt.

Doug: Well there are some symptoms, like headaches and fatigue, muscle weakness and stuff like that, but you wouldn't necessarily connect it to salt. The really bad ones are psychosis and things like that if you're really low in salt.

Erica: Yeah, and heart palpitations and dizziness.

Doug: It's interesting though, there is such a thing as too much salt and apparently in China people would commit suicide by salt. They would drink a saturated solution of salt, like a pint to a pint-and-a-half in a very short amount of time and because they were doing it in a short amount of time it overrode the kidneys' ability to actually get rid of it. Apparently these guys in China would drink the pickling brine from pickling cabbage and stuff like that and they would just chug it and that's how they would commit suicide. You would think there would be more efficient ways of committing suicide but it goes to show that you can have too much salt.

Tiffany: That takes a lot of will power to drink that much salt knowing that it's going to kill you and still be able to swallow.

Doug: Yeah, I think I would probably rather jump off a cliff.

Tiffany: Weren't you going to tell us something about the history Doug?

Doug: Yeah. Apparently in the 1500s people would eat around 40 to 100 grams of salt per day which is a ton of salt. To put that into perspective the recommended amount of salt that people eat now from all the American government bodies and stuff like that is 2,300 mg of sodium, which is about 5.75 grams. So they were eating 40 to 100 grams. I don't know what that is, 20 times the amount that they're recommending. You know those little salt shakers that you see in diners? That's one or two whole salt shakers in the course of a day. And interestingly, the first case of heart disease didn't come around until 1634 so if salt really causes massive hypertension, if that amount of salt is going to cause hypertension, then how come nobody was dying of heart disease until 150 years later almost?

Tiffany: That's because they didn't have blood pressure machines back then Doug. {laughter}

Doug: Oh, is that why?

Tiffany: So they couldn't tell that they had high blood pressure.

Doug: Right.

Tiffany: But the reason that they consumed so much salt is because salt is an excellent preservative for meat.

Doug: Exactly.

Tiffany: And fish. So you put the salt on your meat or fish and it soaks up all the moisture in there and it preserves your meat.

Doug: Exactly.

Erica: And using brine too. So in China they figured out how to make brine by boiling ocean water in clay pots and if anyone has ever eaten wild game like pork or hog, you want to soak it in brine for 24 hours before you eat it because it really softens and tenderizes the meat.

Doug: Right. So in the early 1800s until WWII, westerners ate about 15 to 17 grams of salt per day which is still about three times what the recommended amount is now. And then after refrigeration became widespread salt consumption dropped a lot for the very reason you were saying Tiff. They weren't using it for preservation anymore. So it dropped to about half that rate which equals to about 1.8 teaspoons per day and this level has remained pretty steady ever since. But despite that fact, hypertension keeps on going up even though consumption has remained steady.

Erica: It's just stress.

Doug: Yeah. I think it's probably the sugar. That's my personal feeling on it.

Tiffany: Well the thing that always gets me with a lot of these governmental bodies is how they zero in on one component of something. Diseases are multi-factorial but they always say "Oh it's because of this" or "It's because of that". "It's because of salt, this one component, that this person has high blood pressure or this person has heart disease or this person has diabetes. It's just because of the salt." They're so short-sighted. I guess they assume that we're stupid. I guess most people believe it so they do kind of get away with it because most people still believe that salt is bad for you.

Doug: Everybody does.

Tiffany: You go out to eat with somebody and they put some salt on their food and they feel guilty about it. "Oh, I shouldn't use so much salt but..." {laughter}

Doug: Or they see you doing it and they say "Isn't that a lot of salt?" And you're like "No! It's not a lot of salt."

Tiffany: Don't you have high blood pressure? Nope! I used to think the same thing so I can't fault people for that.

Doug: When I grew up my mom when she was cooking meals would not cook with salt. She said "Oh people can just put it on at the table" and it's like "Oh man!" I didn't know what food was supposed to taste like until I got out of the house.

Tiffany: Yeah, people say that but it's a whole different story when you actually cook the food in the salt because the infusion and all the flavours come out and make sweet things sweeter and savoury things more savoury. But it's not the same if you just put it on your food at the table. It's not the same effect.

Doug: I totally agree. It's not integrated.

Tiffany: Yes.

Erica: Some of the old foods that helped people survive before refrigeration were things like bacon and ham because salt draws out all the water and prevents bacteria and so in the articles that we were reading for this show they were talking about how in the 16th century in Europe salted cod is how people survived. It's a very low fatty fish but it was a survival food and everyone ate it. And then cheese is another one that became popular because you couldn't transport milk without refrigeration so they made cheese and that requires a lot of salt. So hence why we love some cheese every now and then.

Doug: We love us some cheese.

Tiffany: It's fatty and salty. {laughter}

Doug: Yeah, it's everything the growing body needs. Or not growing.

Tiffany: It's what plants crave actually. {laughter}

Doug: Interestingly, even though the recommendations are for 2,300 mg of sodium which is like I said, about 5.5 grams of salt, the average American consumes 3,700 mg of sodium per day which is about nine-and-a-bit grams of salt. And like I said, that's remained constant for about 50 years or so. The Japanese, who have one of the highest life expectancies in the world, consume about 46 grams - so about double the amount - of what the recommendations are, which is about 11.5 grams of salt. And the Koreans have the lowest incidence of heart disease and they're eating about 4,000 mg of sodium, which is probably 10 or so grams of salt. So where do they get off making these recommendations basically?

Tiffany: They just make it up.

Erica: One thing about the Koreans and Asian culture in general is that they also eat a lot of bitter foods that Americans probably wouldn't eat and the salt helps cut down the bitterness. I don't know if anyone's ever eaten bitter melon but it is the most disgusting tasting vegetable ever. But you soak it, again, in brine overnight and cook it and it's palatable but it's now being used to lower blood pressure.

Tiffany: And blood sugar.

Erica: Yeah. So I think the Asians were onto something. But they do a lot of fermenting. The kimchi is really popular and it can be very salty. With the SAD diet, Americans - like we've talked about in a previous show - the portions that people are eating are so large that they're getting way more salt than the recommended daily allowances because they're eating so much more food and they're adding more salt to processed foods.

Tiffany: I think that we need to differentiate between different types of salt. So there's the processed salt where they heat it to over 1,000 degrees and it burns off all the nutrients and then they add in these anti-caking agents and sometimes aluminium and bleach to make it white again. So that ultra-refined salt is the stuff that ends up in a lot of these processed foods and sweets also.

Doug: Yeah.

Tiffany: So you can't just say "It's because of the salt". You have to say "It's because of the really crappy salt that they're eating along with the crappy food that they're eating". You can't just lump all salts together.

Doug: I think the anti-caking agents are horrifically bad because they make it so it no longer retains water. It no longer attracts water so that it doesn't clump up and it still comes out of your salt shaker because god forbid it not come out of your salt shaker properly. {laughter} So that's completely taking away the properties of salt that your body actually needs. One of the reasons your body needs salt is...

Tiffany: And he's gone.

Doug: ...plays with it.

Erica: And then there's the iodine in it but in the reading it was saying that it's synthetic iodine, so it's not even real iodine because people think "Oh, salt is from the ocean. It's got iodine in it" but it's been so processed and had things added back into it.

Tiffany: It's survival salt. It's enough to keep you alive but you won't thrive.

Erica: And it's interesting, going back to the history, that in the Roman empire the soldiers were paid in salt and it was a very high commodity worth a lot and they used to say that soldiers were worth their salt in pay and it was traded. They're saying Venice was built on salt trade. That's how they built all of the beautiful buildings in Venice. Now in this day and age, it's actually the cheapest additive in food. So it's the cost also. Back in those ancient times it was harder to get, especially if you weren't by an ocean and now it's so accessibly available that big food manufacturing companies can add tons of it to food because it's such a cheap commodity.

Tiffany: There are several salt mines all over the world but there's one up by the Great Lakes. It's kind of astounding, the amount of salt that they can pull from underneath the earth and nothing collapses. I guess sometimes they have accidents, but I was watching a video about how they get all this salt from underground and they drill these holes and then they have to reinforce the holes that they drill and then they use explosives and just blow salt out of the earth. Then they just shovel it out and sell it.

Erica: One of the interesting things I learned - and I knew this before working in agriculture - is in Utah there's the Redmond salt mine. They were talking about how sea salt - because a lot of people don't want to do table salt so they do sea salt thinking that it's much healthier. The problem with sea salt is now with the contamination of the ocean there's lots of micro-plastics in it and heavy metal poisoning, Fukushima, something to think about too - radiation - but this Redmond salt mine is thousands and thousands of years old and it's cover by a bed of bentonite clay.

So Redmond's salt, if any of our listeners haven't heard of it, you can look them up online, they have really good salt. That's what we eat and it's got a lot of minerals in it and then they also make bentonite clay products too. They're really successful and they sell a lot of salt to be used in agriculture as well because believe it or not, the earth needs a little bit of salt, not too much, when you're growing food. It's just how we've been taught, that salt is bad, salt is bad, but like you said Tiffany, it depends on the type of salt that you're getting and where it's coming from.

Tiffany: Another thing about table salt versus real salt or sea salt or salt pulled from an underground mine is that table salt is just one component - sodium chloride. But when you get real salt it has all these other trace minerals in it too so it's a more complete food. And another thing that I learned is that salt is used for making glass.

Doug: Oh yeah?

Tiffany: Yeah. I'm not sure exactly how but if you think that you blow the sand and you make glass, I'm sure that sand has salt in it so that's just my theory. {laughter}

Doug: It sounds solid.

Tiffany: So salt is not just for food. It's for other processes also.

Erica: Even if you look at videos of people who now in this present time mine salt, it goes through a whole process of having to sit and dry and cake and scrape the top off and filter. Now there's this whole artisan foodie thing about collecting salt water and making homemade salt and it's really time and energy intensive. It's not like you can just put some salt water in a pan and it dries out and there you have salt.

So we do have a clip that we can play. This is an interview with James DiNicolantonio and it's called The Salt Fix and he just gives us a little bit of background on what we're talking about.

James DiNicolantonio: So it's kind of similar with the demonization of fat. We had Lewis Dahl who was kind of like the Ancel Keys of salt. I don't know what was in the water in the 1950s but Dahl did the same thing with salt that Ancel Keys did with fat, cherry picking populations and drawing a straight line showing that in five populations, as salt intake increased the prevalence of hypertension increased. And of course 20, 30 years later we had Ingersoll which looked at 48 countries not just five and actually had with salt intake increase, blood pressure actually decreased.

So studies went back and forth and there were all these salt wars back in the 1900s. In the book I go through we had some doctors saying "Yeah, when I put my patients on low salt diets their blood pressure goes down" and then we had other doctors saying it didn't happen. So we never just had any good solid proof that a low salt diet prevents high blood pressure or strokes or heart attacks.

Mark Hyman: The Dash diet, that's the diet but it's also low salt which is dietary process to stop hypertension and part of that was a low salt diet.

James: Right. That's a good point. Kind of what's been happening Mark, is they've been hyper-focusing on the minimal benefits of a reduction in blood pressure when we cut our salt intake. In the book I show you're just dehydrating that person. It's not even a good thing that you're lowering their blood pressure when you cut your salt intake because their heart rate goes up and you're just reducing their blood values. It's not a good reduction in blood pressure.

Mark: Yeah.

James: Actually vascular resistance in the arteries actually stiffen on a low salt diet. You become insulin resistant. Even that famous Dash study showed that the total cholesterol to HGL ratio worsened on a low salt diet and triglycerides went up because low salt diets cause metabolic syndrome. One of the reasons why it does that is because low salt diets cause insulin resistance because that's our body's defence mechanism.

Mark: What's the mechanism of that?

James: So the kidneys can retain more salt, the body becomes insulin resistant to elevate insulin levels because insulin helps the kidneys to not just retain more salt, but it also obviously causes it to store fat.

Mark: That's a really important point. I found in writing my book and doing the research on it, on the effect then with my patients, that when they changed their diet and cut out the starch and sugar which also causes insulin resistance and makes you retain salt and water, because the insulin retains salt, they started dumping salt, they started dumping water. They lost weight. But they didn't feel so good. So I always tell people who are eating a higher fat diet and very low carbohydrate diets to dramatically increase their salt intake.

James: That's a huge point. A lot of people are suffering with the keto flu and really it's mainly due to salt deficiency because when the insulin levels drop when you cut your carbohydrate intake, that just flushes the kidneys out with salt and ketone bodies are negatively charged. They'll pull positively charged sodium ions with them. So really the first few weeks of a low carb diet you have dramatic loss of salt and water. But also the reduction in dietary glucose reduces the absorption of salt so there's this chronic mechanism where you're not even absorbing salt when you cut your carbohydrate intake.

Erica: So did you guys notice that when you cut your carbohydrate intake, that you were craving more salt?

Tiffany: No, but the very first time that I went keto and I cut the carbs, I had some massive water retention and I guess it just took a little bit of time for my kidneys to catch up and then I just peed like a racehorse. {laughter}

Doug: It's interesting what he was talking about there, the whole keto flu thing because the symptoms of the keto flu - headache, nausea, muscle weakness - are the exact same symptoms as if you're suffering from sodium depletion. I wish I had known this back when I was transitioning because I did go through (lost audio)...

Tiffany: The keto flu.

Doug: ...nausea as well. So I think that if I had known to just raise up my salt intake then that would have made things a lot easier.

Tiffany: Well having a lower salt intake really, like he said in the clip, hasn't been shown to have much of an effect on your blood pressure. They actually found that having less than 2500 mg of sodium a day is associated with higher blood pressure and the people who had the lowest blood pressures took 4,000 or more milligrams of sodium a day. So it's actually the opposite of what they say, once again, like so many other things, that holds true for salt as well.

So the thing about having low salt is that there's this enzyme called rennin and rennin helps to raise the blood pressure. So if you have low salt it increases your rennin so your blood pressure goes up. So it's completely backwards and I don't know how they can continue to get away with suggesting that everybody all over the world reduce their salt intake. Maybe there's a small population of people that might be, for whatever reason, more sensitive to salt but even people who think that they are sensitive, they're probably not as sensitive as they think. But to just give this blanket recommendation for everybody to follow is just bad practice.

Erica: The American Heart Association actually recommends 1,500 mg a day. Voluntary recommendation of course.

Tiffany: Well say that you are unlucky enough to actually have a heart attack for whatever reason, say you're stressed out, type A personality or you just have a really bad diet and its high in carbs, if you are a person that eats a lot of salt and you have a heart attack, your chances of surviving that heart attack are higher than if you are on one of those low salt recommendations from your stupid doctor. And another thing, say there's a heatwave in town and they tell old people "You should be careful. There's a heatwave. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids and you'll be okay". But they found that a lot of these old people that just collapse and die during heatwaves were on low salt diets recommended by their stupid doctors.

Doug: They're often on diuretics as well.

Tiffany: Yeah! And that really depletes you. But when you're on a diuretic, doctors who think they know what they're talking about will put you on a potassium supplement because it does deplete potassium but it depletes loads of other minerals too but you just replace the one.

Doug: Yeah. It's interesting what Dr. DiNicolantonio was talking about.

Erica: Yes, James.

Doug: Dr. James. He incidentally wrote the book called The Salt Fix which has been on my list for a long time although I haven't actually read it yet. But he brought up the whole thing about insulin resistance and I thought that that was really interesting because one of the things he talks about is that sugar and salt kind of have complete opposite effects. So both a low salt diet and a high sugar diet will provoke insulin resistance and diabetes and they both work on the same metabolic pathway. But they found in studies that if you put people on a low salt diet you'll see LDL increase, total cholesterol increase, insulin increase and uric acid increase. It's like all the opposite things of what a doctor, with as little as they know, would want to see I somebody.

So it's obvious that when they put somebody on a low salt diet they're looking at blood pressure and absolutely nothing else because if they actually had two firing neurons and saw all these things going completely south they would think, "Okay, maybe you should not be on the low salt diet anymore."

Tiffany: Especially since a low salt diet just may lower at the most or on average - but I think I've read that two points - from your blood pressure. So say your blood pressure is 150/98. If you go on a low salt diet you might get 148/96.

Erica: So not that much to even...

Tiffany: Not a difference.

Erica: Yeah.

Doug: Nothing really to write home about.

Tiffany: All of the trouble of trying to calculate how much salt you're eating and avoiding certain foods because 'salt is so terrible'.

Doug: Yeah. And it's funny because there was one study done. It was a big study and lots of people and they found that anyone who went below 1.5 teaspoons a day will activate that pathway you were talking about Tiff, with the rennin. The WHO, World Health Organization recommends no more than one teaspoon. So anybody below the 1.5 teaspoons is going to activate this pathway which is bad and they're saying (audio lost)...

Tiffany: They're saying something, or not. What did they say Doug?

Doug: Oh sorry. They're saying to eat no more than one teaspoon per day and anything under 1.5 teaspoons per day activates the aldosterone pathway. So it's just ridiculous.

Erica: Also salt deficiency contributes to sugar cravings as well and that dopamine receptor in the brain. So Dr. James was saying that salt is an antidote to sugar addiction and not just sugar but drugs in general and that you can take a little bit of salt to help with your addictions.

Tiffany: So if I wanted to get off crack... {laughter}

Erica: Try to eat more than a teaspoon of salt.

Tiffany: It's a good idea. Thanks for that. {laughter}

Erica: Are you still with us Doug?

Doug: Yeah. The connection's pretty bad. I'm going in and out here. One thing I wanted to point out also was that the ACE inhibitors, it stands for angiotensin...

Tiffany: ...converting enzyme.

Doug: And basically what they are. So when you go on a low salt diet you activate this aldosterone pathway like you were talking about Tiff and that raises blood pressure. So then they put people on these ACE inhibitors which stops that pathway from happening when really all they have to do is just eat more salt. They've even looked at these ACE inhibitors as a possible treatment for insulin resistance because dropping salt makes the insulin resistance happen. So it's like "Oh, if we block this whole pathway then insulin resistance will go down." It's like "Just increase the salt!! That's all you've got to do!"

Tiffany: They won't do that. I don't think they'll ever change their minds about salt. But the salt debate still rages on because there's a debate in keto or carnivore spaces, especially carnivores. They eat just meat. Some of them will salt their food and some will not. They say they don't salt their food because our ancient paleo ancestors did not have access to salt.

Doug: No way! Not true.

Tiffany: Yeah! What, there were no salt fields? No dried up lakes where they could get salt?

Erica: They were also drinking the blood of the animal.

Tiffany: I know!

Erica: So they were getting a lot of their salt from the blood of the animal.

Tiffany: Well maybe that's the carnivore's argument since some of them eat their food raw and an lot of them like their steaks cooked rare, so they may be figuring that they get enough salt or sodium from the blood of the animal.

Doug: No. If you see the lengths that animals will go to, to get salt, elephants will knock over trees to get at the roots that have salty soil under them. I think it's gorillas will chew on wood bark to get the salt-holding bacteria and stuff like that and deer will go up on the highway and get nailed by cars. They'll risk it to try and get the salt that's been put down on the road. There's no way that our paleo ancestors were just hanging out going "Well I can't find any salt so whatever". I get they had lots of ways to get their salt.

Tiffany: Yeah. I never agreed with that when I would read through these carnivore forums and people were saying "Oh you shouldn't be salting your food. Stop salting your food." And someone would say "I'm not losing weight. What's going on with that?" "Stop eating salt."

Doug: Oh come on, it's the exact opposite! You need salt. Honestly! There was a book called the Fat Switch by Dr. Richard Johnson and what he said is that uric acid actually might be this mythical fat switch, the thing that makes animals start to gain fat for the winter and what's actually leading to metabolic syndrome in humans is that they have too high a level of uric acid. One of the things that leads to high levels of uric acid is fructose so that definitely could be something. But also I mentioned it before - there was that study that lowering salt increased uric acid.

So uric acid increases in both medium and high sodium interventions and it's only when you're having enough salt that your uric acid is kept low. And just by eating salt you could bring your uric acid down and they say that. This guy's argument was that if you are having trouble losing that last little bit of weight or maybe even the first little bit of weight, it might be because you are still having these high uric acid levels and if you actually just increase your salt you lower the uric acid and bingo! There you go.

Erica: Well isn't uric acid complicit in gout too?

Doug: Yes. And the gout. And they blame that all on meat but it's really the high fructose corn syrup.

Erica: Too much seafood too, right? Too much shellfish.

Tiffany: Well they partially blame it on alcohol too but I think in certain cases that could be a culprit.

Erica: So could it possibly be not enough salt?

Doug: Yeah.

Tiffany: Or the wrong kind of salt.

Erica: We were saying earlier the wrong kind of salt.

Tiffany: Or what your salt is on when you can ingest it.

Doug: Too much sugar.

Tiffany: Nobody's going to put salt in their mouth.

Doug: I think it's too much sugar. Honestly I think it is. They blame it on the purines that they find in foods so they put people on a low purine diet and yeah that's low meat, low seafood, low alcohol. But honestly I think if people just cut out the sugar, they'd see their gout disappear.

Tiffany: And that means stop being a drunk. {laughter}

Doug: Oh yeah. Stop being a drunk.

Tiffany: That converts to sugar in your bloodstream too.

Doug: It's true.

Erica: So it seems that sugar and carbs are the real issue and salt is just being assaulted because it could.

Doug: It's an innocent bystander.

Erica: Just a little bit more of it is healthy.

Tiffany: Maybe the sugar and the junk food lobby is much more powerful - is there even a salt lobby? Do we have a salt lobby?

Doug: I don't know.

Erica: Morton's? {laughter}

Doug: We should get one.

Erica: Morton's the salt lobby?

Tiffany: I never hear about the salt lobby so I'm just going to assume for the sake of my argument that there isn't one, but the sugar lobby is very powerful and they are really good at trying to push the bad effects of their products onto other things, like either the consumer is fat because they're lazy and they never exercise but it's not because of all the cokes that they drink.

Doug: I don't think that there is a salt lobby but when they were first introducing salt recommendations into the American dietary recommendations, Frito Lay went in front of them, the chip company Frito Lay and they were arguing for all the science on salt saying "You shouldn't be making these recommendations and putting all this research forward" and it's kind of unfortunate that it was coming out of Frito Lay because they were just advocating junk food. But they were right on the salt thing.

Erica: Back to the FDA which we know is the final death association {laughter}, they can only create voluntary guidelines. So in 2016 they proposed that people were eating too much sodium and they opened chats for people to comment and 99.9% of people never comment on those kinds of things. But really why they make it voluntary is because they don't really know. The science is super conflicted and they can't say conclusively so they say "We're going to give you voluntary guidelines" and sodium is easy to target so that's why they picked it.

But like Tiffany was saying, everyone is saying "Salt's bad. Don't put too much salt on your food." So it's like this meme that went out there and was contagious and again, taking the focus away from sugar.

Tiffany: Poor salt. I feel sorry for it.

Doug: Salt and fat. It's such a good combination too. Salty, fatty food is basically the best and there's a reason that it tastes so good - because our body needs it.

Tiffany: Well there's another way to enjoy salt besides just shoving it down your throat. You can get a salt lamp.

Erica: So you can inhale it.

Tiffany: Yeah. They look so pretty too. I kind of want one now because people have been getting them for gifts and I'm kind of jealous. They put out negative ions, right? Like the ocean.

Erica: Mm-hm.

Tiffany: They help purify the air. They help you with your sleep. There's something special about negative ions I guess.

Erica: And respiration, for people who have breathing issues or chronic bronchitis or anything associated - asthma even - to go into a salt mine. That's a kind of a thing that people are doing, going underground and breathing salt or having the Himalayan salt lamps or even going to the ocean and getting some of that fresh salty air.

Doug: It's supposed to help with wifi too, with the negative effects of wifi signals.

Erica: So put your lamp next to your wifi router? {laughter}

Doug: Oh yeah. That'll help.

Tiffany: Just don't have wifi and get a lamp anyway.

Erica: And you've got to put a little plate under your Himalayan salt lamp, especially if you live in a humid place because it sweats.

Tiffany: Can you get electrocuted?

Erica: I don't know. I haven't had that happen to me yet. But when you're in a more humid climate the lamp sweats and you get water underneath so it's kind of back to the history of how salt was used to preserve food. It's sucking the moisture out of the air.

Tiffany: So if your Himalayan salt lamp sweats, you can just lick the lamp {laughter} and get some extra salt, like if you ran out before you went to the grocery store.

Erica: We're really seeing a renaissance in salt in food. I'm sure Doug you may have something to share on this, working in the culinary world. Now there's Icelandic artisan salt and local produced salt and black salt and red salt and smoked salt, flavour-infused salts like - what's the mushroom that everyone loves now? The truffle salt. And these things are expensive!

Doug: I think a lot of that is just making money. Honestly, why would you want to have herbs and stuff like that in with your salt? Use salt and then throw in herbs on its own. That's my perspective on it anyway. Because sometimes you want something to be more salty than herby or vice-versa. What's really interesting is that I've noticed - and I don't know if other people notice this or not - but if you use something like regular table salt on food, you need a lot more of it to actually be able to get the flavour out of it that you want, whereas if you put sea salt on or Himalayan salt or something like that, the taste is different. It's really hard to exactly say how it's different but it's kind of like your body knows it's getting what it needs so it's saying "Yes! More of that! That's good! Keep that up!" It translates into the taste. So you're eating it and you think "Oh, this tastes really good" but really it's because your body knows what its needs are and it's biologically driven to meet the demands that it needs.

Tiffany: Yeah, the body knows what it's doing.

Erica: In doing the reading for this show I found out, which I didn't know before, that if you're a coffee drinker and you don't like bitter coffee but you like coffee, you can add salt to your coffee and it cuts the bitterness. So I tried it this morning. It actually did cut a lot of that bitterness in the coffee. So it brings out flavours too.

Doug: And it's good because caffeine will actually deplete your sodium levels so adding a little bit of salt will counteract at least some of that, I think.

Erica: And now you see all these sweet, caramelized salt chocolates or sea salt dark chocolate so it's that kind of salty and sweet.

Doug: Yeah, that's like crack, that salty/sweet combination. Oh my god!! {laughter}

Tiffany: Or chocolate-covered salty nuts.

Doug: Oh, that's the best. I remember when I was living in California the Trader Joe's there had a mixed nut and they were salted nuts covered in dark chocolate and it was just the best thing ever. I would try to be good but if I ever needed a treat I would go for those things and oh my god, so good.

Erica: Trader Joe's is another one of those places that has really picked up on the artisan salt combo that you were talking about earlier, lavender salt or garlic onion salt. Maybe it is in a sense getting people to get more into salt by having a fancy label or whatnot, but it's always really chunky too so it's got the grinder built in.

Doug: Yeah, that's good stuff.

Tiffany: All this talk about salt is making me want to take an Epsom salts bath. Maybe I'll do that this weekend, submerge myself in salt.

Doug: What are the benefits of that?

Tiffany: It helps if you have sore muscles or workout fatigue. And it helps with your sleep. Those are the things that I notice personally. It's just so relaxing.

Doug: It's also good because there's magnesium in it and it's a good way of getting magnesium into you. I heard something really interesting about salt actually in relation to magnesium and potassium. If you've got low salt, your body instead of sweating out sodium because it's trying to retain its sodium as much as possible, it will actually preferentially shunt magnesium and potassium into your sweat. So a lot of people who are magnesium deficient, it's actually because they're salt deficient and if they were eating more salt they would actually retain more of their magnesium and potassium. I thought that was pretty interesting.

Erica: So you think if you are salt and magnesium deficient, could you take a magnesium/Himalayan salt bath and absorb that through your skin? I know that the magnesium baths are good for that, for people who don't like to take a bunch of vitamins.

Doug: I would assume so. I'm assuming that you absorb through the skin but I don't actually know that.

Erica: Well I'm going to do it.

Tiffany: Absorbing salt through the skin? Oh sure you can. That's why people die who are shipwrecked. {laughter} I get all of my shipwrecked stories from watching Titanic. {laughter} So at the very end where the girl was up on that floating piece of timber wood and she survived and Leonardo DiCaprio died because his body was submerged in the salt water.

Doug: I thought that was because of the cold.

Tiffany: Oh, okay. {laughter}

Doug: I could be wrong. That's how I always read it though. No, it's the salt!

Tiffany: Yeah.

Erica: I've never seen the Titanic so I don't know. I can't comment one way or another.

Tiffany: But seriously yeah, you can absorb it through your skin and people do die even in warm water if they're in that water for too long.

Doug: I'll check that out.

Erica: Well do we have any more interesting facts that we want to share about it?

Doug: I was just going to say that the recommendations are for about five teaspoons of salt a day, but more realistically you should probably be aiming for about 12 grams which is about 4.5 grams of sodium. But the thing is because our body knows how much salt it needs, a lot of times you can just go by the taste; how much salt you're craving, how much salt you're putting on your food. If you taste something and you think "Oh my god! That's way too salty!" that's probably too much salt. I don't think anybody should worry about putting enough salt on their food. To salt it enough that it tastes good to their tastes, that's probably exactly what you need.

But I think 12 grams is what to aim for. You should increase that if you are drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages. If you're low carb you increase your needs for salt. Or if you're sweating a lot. If you do exercise or if you're working outside. And adding a little salt to your water is actually a good thing too. You don't have to do enough to actually make it taste salty but just add a little it, it kind of softens it a little bit. It's actually really tasty.

Erica: That was one of the things that I want to start doing. I wouldn't say that I'm salt deficient, but I definitely don't have a preference for salty food. Sometimes even bacon is a little bit too salty. But I've been getting these dizzy spells sometimes in the morning and I was just reading for this show about how it could be that I'm not getting enough salt in my diet. So it's suggested half a teaspoon of salt mixed with some lemon juice and then you just drink it like a cocktail in the morning.

Doug: With water though, right, not just lemon?

Erica: Yes. I guess you could shoot it. {laughter} And then you can put some salt in your coffee and go about your day.

Tiffany: Yeah.

Erica: Well if we don't have anything else to add at the moment we can go to our pet health segment and the topic of the pet health segment today is...

Tiffany: Antifreeze and salt?

Erica: Hmm.

Zoya: Hello and welcome to the pet health segment of the Health and Wellness Show. Since winter is coming this week's segment is about antifreeze and rock salt poison. So listen to the following recording and hopefully you'll know what to do when your furry companions ingest these substances. Have a great weekend and good-bye.

Emma: Hello, I'm Emma Hammett, the founder and CEO of and the author of Perfect Dogs. Today I'm just going to do a brief reminder of how to keep your pet safe in these nasty cold winters, in particular what to do if your pet has drunk antifreeze from puddles or if they have ingested rock salt usually that they have licked off their paws.

The key thing is that many people are topping up the antifreeze in their cars as the weather gets colder. Antifreeze will leak out of cars and it's possible it gets into puddles. It's lovely and sweet and pets like to drink it. If your pet drinks it, this ethylene glycol. There is an antidote. It's 4-ethanol but it needs to be given immediately or otherwise the effects can be fatal.

So the key thing is a) prevent your dog from drinking from puddles, particularly when it is winter and b) signs and symptoms of antifreeze poisoning are drunken behaviour, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, weeing a lot, can cause seizures, coma and as I said before, it can be fatal. So if you suspect that your dog or cat has been drinking from puddles and may have ingested some antifreeze, get them to the vet straight away, no delay.

The other thing that is around this time of year is rock salt. It's a mixture of sodium chloride and grit that we put down to raise the freezing temperature of the water so that you aren't slipping and sliding all over on the ice and that's why we use it. So it's all over the place the moment we start getting our first frosts. Rock salt poisoning will actually increase their sodium concentrations, not surprisingly and it can make them very ill. It causes excessive thirst, vomiting, lethargy and it can lead to kidney damage.

Key things to do to prevent them ingesting too much rock salt, they can wear booties when they're out and about and otherwise just wash their feet very carefully when they get in, between their claws as well. Just wash really well, dry it well and then they won't sit and lick the salt off because the salt can actually aggravate; you notice if you get salt in a cut yourself, so same with a pet. If it's getting in there and they've got any slight cuts and things it will itch and irritate them and then when they lick it they will ingest it. And seek medical or veterinary advice straight away.

With any form of poisoning never watch and wait. Always get them to the vet as quickly as possible if you suspect they've taken something. I hope that's helpful. I'm Emma Hammett from

Erica: Well thank you for that Zoya. That's actually interesting. I had no idea. At the same time it's almost impossible to keep your dogs from licking pools of water.

Tiffany: Put a muzzle on them.

Doug: Yeah.

Erica: But I wonder if dogs crave salt too, especially if they're on a keto diet.

Doug: I know cats do.

Tiffany: Put salt in their food.

Doug: Yeah.

Erica: I know that my dogs like to drink the bath water with the Epsom salts in it.

Doug: Really? {laughter}

Erica: So do we have anything else to add? We're coming up on our time. Have any questions from the chat? Any callers? Anyone like to call in and share their salt tale.

Tiffany: Don't be fearful of salt.

Doug: Yeah, eat the salt.

Tiffany: Zoya says "Give them raw meat with blood in it".

Doug: Because blood is salty. It's a good idea.

Tiffany: Sure is.

Erica: Yeah, I do that when I feed them raw chicken. I'll pour all the blood in there from the chicken.

Doug: That's good.

Tiffany: So don't be afraid of salt. Eat all the salt you want. Don't make salt mad by disrespecting it.

Doug: Yeah, and blaming it for...

Tiffany: You don't want to sea salt angry. {laughter}

Doug: It gets rather salty.

Tiffany: Yes.

Erica: But go for the healthier salt, not just the table salt, not just the white caked salt. Alright. Thank you all for listening and joining in and we will see you all next week for another show. Tune in this weekend to our SOTT shows.

Tiffany: The Truth Perspective on Saturday and NewsReal on Sunday.

Erica: And hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Tiffany: Good-bye everybody.

Doug: Bye.