In ‘Salt – A World History’, author Mark Kurlansky quotes the Welsh Jungian psychologist Ernest Jones. In Jones’ essay about the obsession humans have with salt, he stated, “in all ages salt has been invested with a significance far exceeding that inherent in its natural properties, interesting and important as these are. Homer calls it a divine substance, Plato describes it as especially dear to the Gods…” He goes on to describe its importance in religious ceremonies, covenants and magical charms. But Himalayan salt benefits can’t be refuted.
When it comes to health.
Sodium Chloride (NaCl) is what results when unstable metal sodium reacts with a poisonous gas chlorine. Better known as salt, the only rocks eaten by human beings. It is safe to say that a world without salt would be very different from the one we know. From adding flavour and texture to preserving our food, and enhancing its colour, it forms a vital part of our diets. The human body can not function without sodium.
Of course, an excess of salt has proven to have enormous negative repercussions on our health, and has been known to contribute to high blood pressure, kidney problems, stroke, and a host of other ailments.
All salt, though, has not been created equally.
There is one variety that boasts an ancient lineage. It is said to be one of the purest forms available and endowed with health properties. Himalayan salt is often called “white gold” which is strange due to its most recognisable colour being a shimmering pale pink but there are also a red and white variety.
Originating from salt mines 5,000 feet deep below the Himalayan Mountain Range, it is believed to have been untouched for millions of years. It wasn’t until 1849 when a British mining engineer constructed a tunnel to reach the salt deposits. Himalayan salt is said to be a better option than table salt for several reasons.
Himalayan salt contains less sodium.
One of the reasons attributed to Himalayan salt benefits in regard to health is the claim that it contains less sodium. But this isn’t strictly true as its chemical composition is similar to table salt. It contains 98% sodium chloride. Its crystals, however, are bigger than those of table salt, so, it contains less sodium per spoon.
The rosy hue, is derived from the trace minerals magnesium, potassium and calcium. It is believed that it contains the same 84 natural minerals and elements found in the human body, and that these minerals are responsible for its saltier taste as compared to regular salt.
The refining process is far more natural than regular salt, which contains a ton of additives and anti-caking agents. More importantly, table salt has energetically dead crystals due to over processing, and places a burden on the elimination system. This, in turn, leads to a loss of water in other cells because those cells are trying to neutralise what the body sees as a toxic invader. Whereas the more natural refining process allows Himalayan salt to retain its minerals.
Himalayan salt benefits, the list is long.
The benefits include reducing muscle cramps, bloating, cellulite, and the chances of developing kidney or gallbladder stones. It contributes to a healthy libido, balances the pH of the body and helps with sleep. It also prevents fluctuations in BP, and improves the absorption of nutrients from food.
Dr. Siddhant Bhargava, Fitness and Nutritional Scientist, weighs in on its many advantages after seeing the benefits in his clients who made the switch. “There are certain health advantages associated with Himalayan salt that make it superior than your regular table salt. Consuming a daily dose of this type of salt will enable a proper flow of fluids in the body. A fine amalgam of minerals and hormones will aid in refining your insulin sensitivity, thus, averting unexpected blood sugar spikes. Since the digestive process is known to begin in the mouth, the intake of a pinch of Himalayan salt can facilitate in activating your salivary glands, which will further release amylase (an enzyme that aids in digesting carbs). Later, in the abdomen, it arouses hydrochloric acid along with an enzyme that helps to digest protein and further enables the breakdown of food. This type of salt is very beneficial in lowering blood pressure. Hence, I recommend it to clients who have high pressure.”
Despite Himalayan salt benefits, it should still be consumed in moderation.
Naturally, this is not a free pass to consuming Himalayan in excess, and like with everything else, moderation is key. “Your salt intake should be restricted to 5-6 gms per day. Too high an intake of salt can have a negative effect on your health. It is not advisable to add extra salt in any of your foods. Instead, experiment with other flavours such as herbs and spices such as garlic, chilies, lemon and ginger,” recommends Niyati P. Likhite, Dietician, Fortis Hospital, India. Pink salt is available in various grain sizes, so pick as per your requirements. “For culinary purposes, it is recommended to opt for the extra fine grain while medium and coarse are the perfect sizes for smoothies.” says Bhargava.
Apart from cooking
This salt has made its way to various other aspects of life. It is commonly used as a scrub, guaranteed to make your skin glow, and used in lamps meant to calm and soothe. A more elaborate form of this is a salt room. This is a cave-like room covered with salt-coated walls and Himalayan salt bricks that light up diffusing negative ions. This acts as a great energiser. When inhaled, the salt travels to the lungs to absorb irritants and allergens. It also absorbs impurities from the skin.
If an appointment to a salt cave seems out of reach, you can still get the benefits right at home. “Soaking your body in a Himalayan brine bath can help in rejuvenating your skin. Through the method of dermal absorption, your skin soaks up all the minerals giving you multiple benefits. For example, the magnesium that is absorbed through the Himalayan salt can calm cramped muscles and soft tissues,” suggests Bhargava.
For more natural health and wellness tips, check out our article about Traditional Chinese Medicine.