Essential to the ketogenic diet
I know that salt is not a spice but I thought it was the best place to acknowledge some of its fantastic traits. This mineral is so essential to the keto diet - a lot of people don't even realize its importance. They either try to avoid it at all costs for fear of high blood pressure or forget to up their intake as there isn't much in raw food. Unfortunately, most of us have been raised in a society to do one or the other. That doesn't mean it's right. Yes, when the body eats a normal SAD diet (Standard American Diet) your body takes in way to much salt added into all the processed food you've been eating. Granted you probably never noticed but that doesn't mean it wasn't there. The SAD diet is overloaded with salt and thus can lead to problems such as high blood pressure. Switching over to keto though, it's a whole other story. Now you have to up your intake majorly because all that salt is gone and if you don't, things like the keto “flu” will eventually happen. You might get nauseous, black out, feel dizzy or have headaches, experience muscle cramps, weakness and much more. Why, you ask? Well, in short form, because salt is loaded full of trace minerals. There are so many different kinds of salts out there all having different variations of trace minerals. This is why I believe it is important to switch it up and rotate salts. Allowing your body to achieve the highest benefits. Some salts like pink himalayan, fleur de sel, dead sea salt, celtic sea salt and iodized salt to name a few. Each one different from the other, holding numerous health benefits which I am going to state a few for you below.
Some great benefits of salt are:
- Helps you stay hydrated – salt and water go hand in hand. Salt helps draw water into the places it needs to be within the body, such as the bloodstream and into cells. Without salt, water will leave the bloodstream and eventually end up excreted via urine. Leaving cells dehydrated and thus making you feel dehydrated.
- Promotes vascular health & regulates blood pressure – as stated above, salt draws water into the bloodstream. Blood is made up of 90% water which then takes on the role of supplying oxygen and water to cells and tissues. It also transports essential nutrients, amino acids and fatty acids as well as removing waste and supplying the body with white blood cells upon infection.
- Balances electrolytes and prevents muscle cramping – salt is made up of magnesium, calcium, chloride, potassium and more depending on the type of salt you consume.
- Improves sleep – Salt effects stress hormones that lead to the disruption of sleep. When your body doesn't have enough salt available it sends a message to the adrenal glands signalling them to increase the production of aldosterone (a hormone that causes the kidney to conserve sodium, secrete potassium, increase water retention and blood pressure) also cortisol (stress hormone) and adrenaline all in which disrupt a healthy sleep rhythm.
- Cures cystic fibrosis and chronic Rhinosinusitis – Hypertonic saline (a concentrated salt solution) has been used successfully for many years in cases of CF (cystic fibrosis). Halotherapy (a treatment where you breath in salty air) has been used similarly to clear the thick mucus secretions.
- Treats sore throat – because of salts osmosis effects it draws the fluid from the mouth and throat tissues revealing infection and preventing it in future cases. It also breaks up thick mucus removing irritants such as allergies, bacteria and fungi, which then allows you to breath.
- Prevents iodine deficiency balancing the thyroid – Iodine deficiency affects about 2 billion people worldwide. The lack of iodine results in the inability to make thyroid hormones which causes problems such as intellectual and developmental disabilities and extreme hormonal imbalances.
- Helps to normalize cholesterol – a diet low in sodium has been linked to increased triglycerides (TG) and total cholesterol (TC). A study was made on mice that were put on a low sodium diet and later had the lipids on their inner arterial wall tested to show increased TG and TC.
- Prevents Hyponatremia – too much water not enough salt dilutes the remaining salt within the body.
When insulin levels are kept low the kidneys start to excrete sodium at a higher rate. This is because insulin increases sodium uptake by activating major sodium transporting proteins within cells. Therefore, when you eat a high carbohydrate diet not only is your body consuming salt from the carbohydrates but also any additional salt you may have added to it. In addition, the carbohydrates spike an insulin response which then retains the salt pushing your body over in its daily salt allotment. On the other hand, when your body runs on a ketogenic diet, naturally, insulin levels will be low and salt intake (unless you're adding it) will be low. This then means, your body won't be retaining the salt as much and thus will excrete it quiet rapidly through the kidneys ending up in the urine. When this happens, your body will be depleted of important electrolytes making you feel dizzy, lightheaded, nauseous, tired, body cramps, headaches and more. This is why it is extremely important, when starting a ketogenic diet, to make sure you increase your salt and not to be afraid of it. Salt is our friend!
This does not mean that your body, while on a ketogenic diet, will not absorb salt, it just means it will deplete its salt reserves faster. The recommended dosage that has been said to be optimal is between 3g – 6g a day and increasing when you sweat as salt then leaves your body.