Salt is a topic we ketonians discuss quite frequently. It’s important to understand why we always go on so much about salt here in Ketovangelist Land.
Up until now, everything you have been eating on a Standard Western Diet has been salted out of existence. Did you eat takeaway food? Salted. Did you eat sweet cereal? Salted. How about chips/crisps? Salted. Did you live on energy drinks or sodas? Salted.
You’ve had so much salt up til now, your body has been saltier than the Dead Sea. (**not science)
After being told for so many years by the non-keto world that we need to reduce our salt intake, to be careful how much salt we use, and being scared out of our minds by advertising and doctors about the role of salt in heart disease, kidney failure and other horrible sounding things, we need to readjust the way we think about and consume salt.
If we were still eating all the carbage and fortified food, junk that is deliberately stuffed full of salt and a bunch of other minerals and vitamins, then consuming too much salt can become an issue.
High carbohydrate consumption causes the body to retain water and salt. Even if you’ve been eating “clean”, if you’ve been eating higher carbs- and that means any kind of carbs- your body has held onto any salt that has come in and it has stuck.
Now that you’re Living Ketogenically, NONE of your food is salted, and because you are eating very few carbs and no fortified foods, your body is expelling electrolytes like mad. You must replace all the salt which companies have been adding to the food you’d previously eaten in order to avoid electrolyte deficiencies, which can be very dangerous.
What all those doctors and experts forget to do while they’re telling us to cut down on salt, is tell us that salt is vitally important for the body to run properly.
Like many things, if we have too much, it becomes unhelpful, but our body is very good at telling us if we’ve had too much if we’re practiced at listening to it. Also, in a Ketogenic body, you’re more likely to have too little salt than too much, and if you do manage to overconsume it comes with unpleasant side effects long before it becomes dangerous… disaster pants anyone?
Salt (Sodium, Na) performs many important functions in the body.
- It helps keep our cells hydrated through assisting the elasticity of the cell wall.
- It assists in maintaining the delicate fluid balance in and surrounding all the cells in our body.
- It assists in the uptake of potassium into our cells- if we don’t have enough salt in our system, when we eat potassium rich foods, the potassium is wasted, because it doesn’t transfer through the cell walls effectively.
- It plays a crucial role in digestion- along the entire digestive tract, from the acidic environment of the stomach, to the absorption of fluid in the bowel.
For more information and Science see: Oregon State University, Linus Pauling Institute- Micronutrient Information Centre
The body’s response to too much salt is to address the balance in our cells. Our kidneys and bowel will expel the excess salt, along with fluid- which is where risk of dehydration comes in if people intake too much salt without enough water.
Because of the body’s natural reaction to excess salt it’s almost impossible to intake dangerous amounts of salt on a ketogenic diet. If we are fat-fueling our bodies, then our body will not hold onto excess sodium. It is the process of carbohydrate-fueling that makes excess sodium a significant long-term issue for the heart and kidneys in particular.
This is why, when we were pre-keto, adding salt to already salted, fortified, processed, ruined “food” was such an issue.
Nobody told us that though did they…
As Ketogenic Lifestylers we need approximately 2 teaspoons a day. This can come in some of the foods we eat, like cheese and salted butter etc, but it is also important to use salt as a seasoning.
Use unprocessed rock salt if you can afford it- like Himalayan Pink salt or Celtic Grey salt- or Iodised table salt if you’re on a budget. Rock Salt is the best option but budgets sometimes win.
(It is important to understand that in the United States the FDA has approved Potassium Iodide as the only allowable Potassium additive to Salt. Potassium Iodide evaporates without a stabiliser, which is why maltodextrin is added. The Maltodextrin added is in an amount so small that it is unlikely to cause cravings. It is one of those situations where the USFDA has tied the hands of those of us on a budget.
In Canada, Europe and Australia, Potassium Iodate is used, and a stabiliser is not needed, so Iodised Table salt in these places does not have Maltodextrin added.) For more information see www.saltinstitute.org
If you don’t add adequate amounts of salt: you won’t poop, you’ll have the shakes, you’ll have heart palpitations, you’ll get headaches, your brain won’t function, you won’t uptake potassium, magnesium and other vitamins and minerals.
Salt is one of those minerals about which we have been fed one thing and told something else, without being given the information we really needed.
Fall in love with salt, it could save your life.