Those who follow my teachings on health and nutrition are aware of the importance I place upon the consumption of "superfoods" as part of our daily practices. They not only give us far greater types and amounts of nutrients, they also bring much higher prana (life force energy) into our bodies—the primary (i.e. higher) function of eating in the first place, since it is prana that sustains our life. Food, as I have said before, is merely one of the major vehicles which deliver prana into our bodies. It is for this reason that eating superfoods (as well as raw foods) helps us to reduce our overall food intake. Unrefined sea salt is one such superfood (Celtic, Redmonds, and Himalayan pink salt—all are sea salts, even though two are harvested on land—being three of the best and richest in the world). While salt is often labeled by nutritionists as unhealthy and even dangerous for the body, it is refined (a.k.a. table) salt which has earned this acclaimed title. Refined salt not only does not provide us with the many minerals we need, it actually leaches minerals from the body! In other words, it is more than unhealthy; it is toxic to the body. On the other hand, unrefined sea salt is a necessary food, the balanced consumption of which has many positive effects on the body. The following article by Dr. Brownstein does a very good job of presenting the facts about refined and unrefined salt. Enjoy…
- Louix Dor Dempriey
The Difference Between Refined Salt and Unrefined Salt
- Dr. David Brownstein
Salt is salt, right? Of course not. Just as there are many different brands of cars, there are many differences in various salt brands. This chapter will focus on the difference between refined and unrefined salt. Salt in its natural form is referred to as unrefined salt. Unrefined salt has not been altered by man. Therefore, it contains many different minerals and elements that are useful for the body.
For example, unrefined sea salt (e.g., Celtic Sea Salt) contains over 80 minerals and elements—all the natural elements necessary for life. This is contrasted with refined salt which contains two major items: sodium and chloride.
How is salt refined? Most commercial refined salt has been harvested mechanically from various salt mines as brine. Brine is a highly concentrated solution of water and salt. Prior to mechanical evaporation, the brine is often treated with chemicals to remove minerals (which are sold for use in industry). The minerals are referred to as “impurities” in salt. These chemicals used to treat refined salt can include sulfuric acid or chlorine. Next, water is evaporated under high compression and heat which disrupts the molecular structure of salt. Finally, almost all of the moisture in the salt is removed in a fluidized-bed dryer.
All food-grade salt available in the U.S. must comply with the National Academy of Science’s Food Chemicals Codex Sodium Chloride Monograph (1996). Up to 2% of food-grade salt may contain anti-caking, free flowing, or conditioning agents. These agents may include sodium ferrocyanide, ammonium citrate, and aluminum silicate. None of these products have any positive effects in the body. Dextrose, also known as refined sugar, is used as a stabilizer so that iodide will stay in the salt. The final purity of food-grade salt is between 99.7-99.95% “pure”. Pure refers to the sodium and chloride content. The other “impurities”, including healthy minerals and elements, have been removed from refined salt.
Table 1: Contents of Refined Iodized Salt
|Up to 2%|
Why is Salt Refined?
You may be asking yourself the above question. Salt is refined for four main reasons:
1. Refined salt, having all of its minerals removed (i.e., “purified”) is essentially a lifeless product. Being a lifeless product assures a long shelf life. In fact, refined salt can sit on the grocery shelf forever. A long shelf life is a valuable tool to maximize profits for food manufacturers.
2. Manufacturers believe that an all-white salt product will look cleaner to the consumer and, therefore, increase sales. Refined salt is bleached in order to obtain the white color.
3. If the salt is taken from a polluted area, the refining process will remove the toxins associated with the salt.
4. Iodine is added to refined salt to prevent goiter (swelling of the thyroid). However, as pointed out in my book, Iodine, Why You Need It , Why You Can’t Live Without It, there is insufficient iodine in salt to prevent thyroid illnesses or to provide for the body’s iodine needs.
As contrasted with refined salt, unrefined salt contains much more than sodium and chloride. Unrefined salt contains all of the elements necessary for life. Celtic Sea Salt (Light Grey) contains 33% sodium, 50.9% chloride, 1.8% minerals and trace elements and 14.3 % moisture. Table 2 shows the major contents of unrefined Celtic Sea Salt. Unrefined salt does not contain appreciable amounts of iodide.
Table 2: Major Contents of Unrefined Celtic Sea Salt
|Element||Mg/1/4 tsp||%||Element||Mg/1/4 tsp||%|
How Is Unrefined Salt Harvested?
Unrefined salt has not been put through various machines to remove the minerals and other elements that are naturally part of the salt. In addition, unrefined salt has not been exposed to harsh chemicals. Finally, unrefined salt will have the minerals and elements associated with its origin.
Celtic Sea Salt
In the case of Celtic Sea Salt, it is harvested near the coast of northwestern France. Ocean water is channeled through a series of clay-lined ponds. Next, the wind and sun evaporate the ocean water, leaving mineral rich brine. When the salt farmer gathers the brine using wooden tools, salt crystals begin to form. This is essentially the same method of gathering salt as the ancient Celts used over 2,000 years ago.
This gentle method of gathering the salt ensures that the salt will contain healthy minerals and other elements that are meant to be in salt. There are other sources of unrefined salt besides Celtic Sea Salt. Redmond’s Real Salt® is mined from salt deposits near Redmond, Utah. Redmond’s salt does not undergo a refining process and therefore contains a wide array of minerals. Table 3 gives you the major contents of unrefined Redmond’s Salt.
Table 3: Unrefined Redmond’s Salt
Why You Should Use Unrefined Salt: The pH Factor
As previously mentioned, unrefined salt has many healthy minerals associated with it. On the other hand, refined salt contains primarily sodium and chloride as well as toxic additives. Unrefined salt is a whole food product which is easily utilized by the body. The additional minerals such as magnesium and potassium are essential for a healthy immune system. These additional agents are meant to be ingested at the same time as sodium and chloride are ingested. Refined salt, in its highly processed form, is an unnatural substance to the body. Over millennia of time, our bodies were not exposed to salt as just sodium and chloride. Humans evolved over time using natural, unrefined salt with its full complement of minerals. Enzymes and hormones in our bodies were designed to utilize salt in its whole, natural form; not in a foreign, refined state.
The consequence of utilizing salt in a devitalized form is a poorly functioning immune system, initiation and acceleration of chronic illness, and promotion of acidity.
Acidity and Alkalinity
The pH of the body is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of the body. In an acidic body, the pH is lowered, while in an alkaline body, the pH is elevated. The body has many overlapping mechanisms designed to keep the pH of the body in a neutral state around pH of 7.2.
When the pH of the body becomes either too acidic or too alkaline, normal physiologic functions decline. The organs of the body (kidneys, liver, brain, etc.,) do not function efficiently unless the pH of the body is neutral (≈7.2). Enzymes, the catalysts for the body, are very sensitive to pH changes. They will lose most of their function when the pH is altered. Immune system cells are unable to protect us when the pH is imbalanced. In fact, no part of the body will work efficiently if the pH is not properly balanced.
An acidic pH is associated with many chronic illnesses including cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, and Candida, as well as hormonal imbalances. Majid Ali, one of the foremost practitioners in holistic medicine has written that an acidic pH is a marker of the absence of health in the body.
Food and pH
The food we eat can have a dramatic effect on pH. Generally, refined foods, devitalized of all the healthy vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, are acidifying to the body. Minerals are one of the most alkalinizing agents to the body. Due to poor diets, many people today are mineral deficient. Mineral deficiency is often associated with a lowered pH (<7.0). Refined salt has no minerals in it, while unrefined salt is loaded with minerals. It is not rocket science to realize that unrefined salt will be better to promote a healthy pH.
In fact, all refined foods, (including refined sugar, flour, oils, etc.) lack minerals, vitamins, and enzymes. When we eat these devitalized foods, our body has to use its own store of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes to break down food. Over time, this will lead to nutrient deficiencies and chronic illness. Furthermore, eating devitalized food leads to acidity in the body. Due the prevalence of refined food, it is no wonder that most people run on the acidic side. My experience has shown that it is impossible to overcome chronic illness when there is an acidic condition present. Cancer and chronic illness are two of the consequences of an acidic pH. Cancer cells will proliferate in an acidic environment. In fact, most chronic illnesses will occur in an acidic environment. It is very difficult to overcome any chronic illness if the pH of the body is acidic (i.e., pH<7.2). In an experiment at home (performed by my daughter Jessi), one teaspoon of Celtic Sea Salt in ½ cup of filtered water increased the pH of the water from 6.4 (baseline) to 6.8-7.0. The same amount of refined salt, on the other hand, decreased the pH from 6.4 to 6.0. Refined salt, lacking the buffering effect of the minerals, is an acidifying substance for the body. On the other hand, unrefined salt helps to maintain a more neutral pH and can actually help elevate an acidic pH.
In order to promote a more neutral pH, unrefined salt needs to be the salt of choice. Refined salt should be avoided at all costs.
Sue, 61 years old, has numerous food allergies. Over the years, she has become more and more allergic. Sue was reacting to nearly everything she was in contact with including foods. “I don’t know what to eat. Everything seems to bother me,” she complained. Now, she even has difficulty with taking supplements because she reacts to them. “I can’t even take vitamins because they upset my body. I feel like I am allergic to everything,” she said. Sue had tried different techniques to help her allergies with minimal effects. When I had Sue check the pH of her urine and saliva, she found that her pH was very acidic. Upon further investigation, Sue found that foods containing refined salt caused her pH to become more acidic. She said, “I could not believe that the foods that you eat can change the pH so dramatically.” When Sue removed refined salt from her diet and added Celtic Sea Salt, her pH significantly increased. “The most important thing I found was that when my pH elevated, my food allergies went away. I felt much better. My energy improved and I could think more clearly. Also, I am able to take supplements when my pH is elevated,” she said. Now, Sue monitors her pH daily and adjusts her diet accordingly.
There is a huge difference between refined and unrefined salt. Unrefined salt is packed with essential minerals and supplies the body with a proper balance of sodium and chloride with over 80 trace minerals.
Refined salt is a poor food choice. It has no place in our diet. Without the balancing effect of the trace minerals, refined salt provides the body with too much sodium. Sodium was meant to be ingested with its complement of trace minerals. The consequences of the ingestion of large amounts of refined salt are mineral deficiencies, acidity, and the onset of chronic illness. Unrefined salt should be the salt of choice. My clinical experience clearly shows that this is a healthier salt choice, as compared to refined salt.