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Salt, Doctored and Undoctored

Inner Circle Member Forum >> Food and Diet >> Salt, Doctored and Undoctored

Bob Niland

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Posted: 6/18/2017 3:54:09 PM
Edited: 11/21/2018 5:46:12 PM (15)
 
Salt, Doctored and Undoctored

Salt, Doctored and Undoctored

Edition: 2018-10-11

For a surf zoner getting ample seafood, salt just happens, and requires no particular attention. For uplanders, it’s a critical deliberate nutrient, and always has been. For good reason, the Hallstatt and Hallein salt mines in Austria may be the oldest continually operating businesses on the planet — 7000 years — although we’d have to cross-check that with ancient, often still-operating open-pool and salt-flat farms found in many regions.

Modern dogma on sodium intake leads to deficiency, as Dr. Davis points out on the Wheat Belly Blog in Salt Your Food. The latest book deflating the dogma is The Salt Fix (DiNicolantonio).

But the present article below isn’t about daily dose of sodium or salt, or even how to assess your salt status. It’s about the salt itself.

What kind of salt should I use?
is a frequently asked question.
The broad answer is: it’s not that big a deal, but if you want to optimize your choice, read on.
TL;DR?
A. credible coarse mined (underground), such as Redmond Real or pink Himalayan
B. credible unrefined light colored modern sea salt
and for either, full analysis considered.
No credible analysis published : no sale.

Priorities: Picking a salt is a nutritional tweak (although an easy one, due to the deminimus economic considerations). The top concern is your overall diet and lifestyle program. So in the Undoctored program, first attend to grain-free, thyroid optimization, omega 3 intake, magnesium intake, Vitamin D status and bowel flora. Picking a salt is even subordinate to getting sufficient salt in any form.

What is the Ideal Human Dietary Salt?

Unknown, really, but what you might optimally respond to is what your genotype is adapted to (and if you are of materially mixed ancestry, there may be no insight along this line).

If they were coastal, they may be adapted to the mineral profile of the ocean in key epochs. That ocean is not the modern ocean.

If they were inlanders, they might have been adapted to regional sources, that may or may not still be available in pristine form. Note that the Maasai still drink cow blood.

Other than sodium, no salt is a material source of minerals or elements that the Undoctored program suggests for routine or contingent supplementation, including magnesium, iodine, zinc, iron. Salt can be a useful source of things we need in trace amounts, particularly if otherwise deficient in diet.

All Salt is Sea Salt

Unless created by burning reagent-grade sodium metal in a pure chlorine atmosphere (which dangerous detonation nobody does for salt-making), all food-grade salt originally came from sea water. The considerations for consumption of it include:
u1f714_alchemical_symbol_for_salt How long ago was it sea water?
u1f714_alchemical_symbol_for_salt What’s been removed?
u1f714_alchemical_symbol_for_salt If refined, what’s still there?
u1f714_alchemical_symbol_for_salt If modern sea water, what’s still there?
u1f714_alchemical_symbol_for_salt What’s been added?

And yes, this implies that when you see an Ingredients list item of “sea salt” (without a modifying prefix), it might be a warning label. The top explanation for that phrasing is pandering to a perceived fad by formulators who may or may not be competent. A simple statement of “salt,” is frankly much more forthright. The “pink Himalayan salt” seen on Wheat Free Market Foods and Primal Kitchen products meets with my personal approval.

I might add here that despite being a mineral, “organic…salt” is actually a thing, in some jurisdictions, but the claim resolves few questions per se that we might have about the specific product.

How Long Ago Was It Sea Water?

Mined salt (from strata of ancient sea beds) and inland farmed salt (from evaporated land-locked seas, or continuing mountain run-off) all trace their origins to ancient oceans.

The underground sources are still largely pristine, but may represent a mineral profile that is arguably too old — pre-human. We pick our battles.

Provenance matters on unrefined mined salt. You might assume that cheap generic bag of pink Himalayan is top shelf pebbles from Khewra Salt Mine in Pakistan, but without some credible supporting data, it could be just random Mid East road salt, perhaps in a counterfeit container.

Surface mined sources likely still exhibit their archaeological mineral profiles, but have been exposed to the industrial age atmosphere for a couple of centuries now, which has been depositing contaminants on them, So there’s that.

Anything calling itself “sea salt” is presumably from the modern ocean. That means that unless extraordinary measures are applied, it contains all the contaminants of the industrial, littering and atomic ages.Return to Questions ]

What’s Been Removed?

Refined salt is the default form of food-grade salt sold in food markets. What makes it refined is a recrystallization process to remove “impurities” thought to be objectionable to customers. This process uses chemicals at the liquid step, and often drying at high temperatures (e.g. 1200°F/649°C, which suffices to drive off trace gases and volatile compounds).

Refining changes the mineral profile of the salt. Assessing this requires comparing the full analysis of the product to a full analysis of a sea salt or mined/unrefined salt. Refined salt may turn out to be just sodium, chloride, processing residues, anti-caking agents and [ephemeral] iodine.

Unrefined sea salts usually have gross contaminants (dead seagulls) and debris (driftwood) removed, but little else.Return to Questions ]

Mined unrefined salts typically have nothing removed.

If Refined, What’s Still There?

Processing residues are apt to be present, which reportedly can include ferrocyanide, aluminum silicate and ammonium citrate.Return to Questions ]

If Modern Sea Water, What’s Still There?

The list includes but is not limited to: mercury, lead, chromium, petroleum, pesticides, PCBs, dioxins, micro-plastics (now reported in sea water at the poles), and perhaps a dash of radioactives.

The fundamental problem is that they can’t remove these toxins without removing all the other micros too. The only way to then provide them is to add them back in, and I suspect exactly no one does this. If someone wants to argue that the toxin levels don’t matter, then they need to consider that then any even lower micronutrient levels don’t matter either.

This points up a marketing problem in the Sea Salt business. The analysis data they often provide may be very selective. They’ll list the trendy trace elements (say, iodine and selenium), but “neglect” to provide a figure for any of the heavy metals, esp. mercury and lead, nor the industrial compounds.

The radiation can be ameliorated to some extent by seeking Atlantic sea salt. But the greater consideration is being on a diet that reduces cancer risk. Anyone who carefully avoids Fukushima Daiichi™ brand sea salt, but remains on a consensus full-time-glycemic diet with wheat, has inverted cancer risk priorities.Return to Questions ]

What’s Been added?

Depending on source country policy, and retail country policy, addition of iodine to salt may be required, effectively required, or just seen as a marketing feature.

Iodine is a harmless, if largely ineffective amendment to salt. It evaporates fairly rapidly, so if the package is not air-tight, it may be gone before first use. Once opened, assume it’s gone in a month. Iodine is important, but get it from more reliable sources.

Finely granulated salt tends to clump. Consequently, anti-caking or flow agents are routinely added. Although this could easily be a concerning grain starch like wheat dextrin, the list of candidate contaminants is extensive and sobering.

Flow agents are easy to minimize, if not avoid altogether, by sourcing a coarse salt and grinding it yourself. If using a mined unrefined salt, make sure it’s a sturdy grinder, because it really is little rocks, and some of it may have a hardness greater than pure NaCl crystals.Return to Questions ]

So Where Does This All Leave Us?

My family is presently using a domestic ancient subterranean salt, Redmond Real Salt, coarse (on Vitacost, on Amazon). Whatever you pick, insist on a complete credible analysis, as well as credible chain of custody from mine to table.

With modern sea salt (coarse, unrefined), the question probably comes down to: do the benefits of the trace minerals outweigh the hazards of the trace toxins? A credible sea salt would be my second choice, followed by a surface mined salt, and with a coarse refined salt a distant fourth.

Consumerlab.com has not {yet} routinely tested salts. On a page that may be visible only to subscribers, they did, in 2012, commission an analysis of a dozen products, and ended up advising against black and grey salts due to heavy element concerns.

Limited time offer: Wiki tells us that
“Extraction of Himalayan salt is expected to last 350 years at the present rate of extraction of around 385,000 tons per annum”

Someone also noted that some pink Himalayan they’d bought came in a package touting that it was millions of years old, and the package had an expiry date a year out. The author concluded that they’d mined it just in the nick of time.Return to Top ]

___________
Bob Niland [disclosures] [topics] [abbreviations]

Tags: Celtic,Himalayan,salt,sea salt,sodium,sodium chloride

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