By Shihan Mary Bolz
Master of Science Oriental Medicine
Doctoral Fellow, FBU
Master Martial Arts Instructor
There is an old saying often heard, “Take it with a grain of salt.” This phrase usually means to not believe entirely or literally what you have read or heard; that there is truth to it, but do not put too much faith in it. There is another way to take this phrase; literally, when it comes to food. The importance of good food and diet cannot be overlooked when it comes to health, and salt is a very important factor when it comes to human health, even animal’s health. Another saying that was quoted in the Bible goes like this: “Ye [You] are the salt of the earth.” Therefore, the “salt of the earth” phrase means that you, someone, or it is very important, or essential to something or to make something happen. Indeed, in the history of this world, in ancient times, wars have been fought over salt, much as if wars are fought over oil in this modern time. Humans and animals cannot live without salt. Three essentials that need to be taken by mouth to sustain life are food, water, and salt. What most people may be purchasing in the supermarkets, however, many times is not pure salt. Most of the salt sold is a highly refined, diluted, and adulterated chemical. This is the salt that almost all prepared food contains and this is the kind of salt that almost all restaurants use. Since the industrialization of America, around and especially after WWII, food, including salt, has become a commodity and not a product to promote health. It has become a commodity to make money and be a part of the material economy.
Salt, as it naturally occurs in oceans, and when extracted in a conscientious manner, still contains the 84 elements that compose the sea. The complex liquid of seawater has an amazing likeness to human blood and body fluids. Most biologists probably would agree that the ideal salt to maintain and restore health in humans, is a natural sea salt that would still contain all the 84 original seawater elements. The biological necessity for all the 84 elements has not been proven in the scientific model, but most scientists of biology would agree that 24 of these elements are essential for animal life, and many of them need to be present only in less than parts per million concentrations to provide or restore essential biological functions. In fact, it is only in parts per million (ppm) concentrations that they can be properly absorbed and used without becoming toxic. Any excess concentration in the animal’s (includes human’s) body would cause clumping and malabsorption in the system.
For maintaining and quickly restoring human energy, it is imperative that a clean and natural salt, still containing all the essential elements, be easily and constantly available to humankind.
The commercial exploitation and profiteering of this most indispensable organic mineral and seasoning began with industrialization of civilization. In ancient times, real natural salt was so highly valued that it was exchanged ounce for ounce for gold. It was also in these days that any adulteration of the precious substance was punishable by death. Today, this corruption, with the aid of the modern chemical industrialization of food, extends to such a point that the salt’s original essential elements and gases, outside of sodium and chlorine, have been stripped from sea salt for the benefit or convenience of the refiners. The product left after having extracted the most valuable parts of the salt is an unstable compound. The highly refined sodium chloride, which is extracted from concrete-lined industrial salt flats by bulldozers and flash crystallization, damages our health and threatens our very existence. Basic biology tells us that the activity of trace elements is most prominent at the level of enzymes that speed up or regulate living organism’s processes. Without these trace elements, these processes either would be very slow or require excessive additional energy. Trace elements are regulators, tending to harmonize the metabolic exchanges that assure normal reactions and functions. Their presence endows an organism with the ability of self-restorations or its biological equilibrium. Salt that is mined does not have the life-force energy of the ocean and it contains all the impurities collected in the mining process.
Salt is such an important part of our food that very close scrutiny, attention and sensitivity must be given to the process used to produce salt so that the end product accurately fits the human biological requirements. The modern consumer is most familiar with the refined or vacuum evaporated product. Real sea salt is moist. The riches of the ocean, the salt’s essential trace and macro elements, are held within by the moisture that natural salt stubbornly retains. When the salt is artificially flash crystallized, kiln dried, or boiled, these riches disappear. This essential water-retaining character of sea salt is very important. This is the mother liquor, or bitterns. This kind of real salt has been used to cure many ailments such as severe burns, mental disturbances and allergies. This mother liquor restores the hydro electrolytic imbalance, a primary cause of allergies and loss of the immune response. The therapeutic effect of mother liquor is still in widespread use by the European medical profession today. The moisture in the salt transfers the energy of the great oceans themselves; water is the lifeblood of our planet.
The crystalline structure of the natural salt is also an important factor. The small crystal cube of natural sea salt safeguards the integrity of a natural substance. To grind it in powder form or tiny broken crystals is to destroy that protective wrap and leave it wide open to oxidation and chemical pollution.
The color of the salt is another character of real salt to look for. If the color is too white, it is too processed. Pure white refined salt heralds its mineral deficiency and biological uselessness by its white purity look. A natural product is seldom homogenous and usually reveals its richness in minerals by a pronounced coloring. Besides being lowest in sodium chloride content (about 84%), some of the minerals present in true natural sea salt help in its absorption and elimination ability in the human and animal body. These minerals are responsible for its ever-so-light gray coloring and attest to its active biological role.
It is important to use natural sea salt in cooking. Salt is NOT to be used at the table after food has been cooked. Natural sea salt will NOT come out of a saltshaker anyway, only processed so-called salt that is highly refined and has additives to make it flow will work in a saltshaker. The saltshaker and the refining of salt were all inventions of the modern, industrialized and profit making era of modernity. It was all designed to make money. For the salt to flow it has to be dried and the vital moisture taken away, it also needs chemical additives. Try tasting the difference between common table salt and a truly good sea salt, such as French Celtic by Eden foods, on your fingertip. The commercial salt is harsh, salty, and has a chemical taste. The French Celtic salt of Eden Foods has a sweetness and mild salty taste and is moist.
Natural sea salt in small crystal form dissolves easily for cooking, pickling or baking. An additional benefit is that vegetables and whole grains that are cooked with this salt contain the electrolytes so vital to the life process. The salting of vegetable foods is a necessity; without salt, the healing benefits normally derived from vegetables and grains are cancelled. Vegetables in their natural state are, by design, lacking in sodium chloride for proper assimilation. Vegetable juices and the water used for cooking grains readily dissolve salt crystals. There it is best to add salt in that form, in cooking, rather than as finely ground when food is on the plate. If vegetables or grains are unsalted or too little salt is used, the instinctive absorption mechanism pushes one to excess consumption to obtain a sufficient amount of minerals. This not only creates excess bulk but, due to kidney impairment, the moisture from the vegetables cannot be dissipated. Salt-free green, leafy raw diets often cause expansion of the belly and offer no benefit to the person in the end, even though they at first, for a short time, effect a cleansing. Our goal in eating should focus ultimately on long-term balance and energy. Even the skin of people who use good quality sea salt in this manner in their cooking is more beautiful than those who do not.
An acidic body condition is at the root of many illnesses; natural Celtic sea salt strongly alkalinizes and therefore is a powerful remedy that is easy to apply. Our bodies contain three internal oceans that require frequent mineral replenishment of many trace elements best done by taking minute amounts of salt in our food. Each one of these complex solutions surrounds and circulates through our body: 1) It forms the plasma of our blood. 2) It forms the lymphatic circulatory system. 3) The extracellular fluid that bathes every living cell in a regenerating solution rich in mineralizing elements. Isn’t salt bad for you? Is not this what we all hear, we eat too much salt; it causes kidney problems and hypertension. All the medical and scientific studies condemning table salt would appear to be justified, except for the fact that these studies examined only refined white salt, a biologically damaging, completely unnatural chemical substance. (Yes, the processors of salt add other chemicals, check the label.)
There are, in reality, very few salt related health problems. The research of Dr. John H. Laragh at the hypertension center of the New York Cornell Medical Center shows that the high blood pressure problem lies not in salt intake but in an overactive hormone system. (This also can be taken care of by correct diet.) When this system is overactive, i.e. high rennin levels, body salt content is usually excessively reduced and thus salt starvation could occur if the patient is put on a low salt diet. On the other hand, low rennin levels, which occur only in a third of hypertensive people, truly reveal a sodium excess. Only patients in the latter group should lower their sodium intake. Granted, the average American is over consuming the commercialized chemical that is loaded in junk food and fast food that passes for salt. A healthy and active lifestyle demands an adequate–not excessive–salt intake. Contraction of the spleen that causes an increase in oxygen carriers and sufficient blood formation activity requires a presence of adequate amounts of magnesium salts in macronutrient quantities to occur.
Whole foods eating require cooking that whole food with whole salt. Adding a pinch of salt to all grains in the pot, before cooking, so that the salt cooks with the food is important to bring out the nutrition of the grains, to provide the macronutrients needed for the process of digestion, and to alkalinize the blood is very essential. Another reason: the taste! Brown rice cooked without salt has very little taste; add the good quality, whole sea salt and it is sweet, delicious and alive! The same can be said of good quality, organic fresh vegetables when you cook them with salt. You will find you will need little or no other seasoning, because they taste so GOOD! Start practicing whole foods cooking and learn to cook and take everything you make with a grain of salt!
Here is a simple recipe for steamed, pressed vegetable greens.
Steamed Greens Dish
Lightly cooked green vegetables can be eaten every day. It is important that the vegetables do not lose their green color. To prepare:
1. Wash the green, leafy tops of any vegetable, such as turnip, daikon, carrots, kale, watercress, Chinese cabbage, parsley, collards.
2. Put the vegetables in a small amount of boiling water with a pinch of good sea salt added. It is important that the water be already at a jumping boil before you put in the vegetable.
3. Cover and steam for two to five minutes. Soft, delicate greens such as collard greens will take only two minutes. Carrot tops will take five, maybe even seven minutes if it has many stems.
4. Immediately take the vegetables out of the boiling water when the time is up, put in a colander and run under cold water for one to two minutes to stop the cooking. This will help them keep their beautiful green color. Slice up the vegetable in the desired size.
Lightly sprinkle tamari-soy sauce over the vegetables or ume plum vinegar for a refreshing side dish. Enjoy the salt of the earth!