Why Does the Body Seek Salt?
Today we are introduced to a hormone called aldosterone.
Aldosterone is a hormone that spares sodium. In other words, aldosterone is like a dam that determines how much sweat the body will release. The height of this dam depends on how much sodium is consumed in a diet.
If the amount of sodium that is naturally found in whole, plant foods is consumed, the height of the dam – that is, aldosterone level – will be within normal limits. If an unnatural amount of sodium is consumed, which happens when kitchen / Himalayan / sea / or any other type of salt, is added to the food, the height of the dam – that is, aldosterone level – will be lowered, so that the body can release more sweat.
a diet without added salt = normal aldosterone levels = little sweating
a diet with added salt = reduced aldosterone levels = more sweating
- Why does the body have a mechanism that determines how much sodium will be retained in, or expelled from the body?
Fruits and vegetables contain salts of various minerals. The salty mineral sodium is also found in fruits and vegetables, with an emphasis on vegetables, and significantly in chard, celery and tomatoes.
This mineral is necessary for the physiological activities of the body. However, it is necessary to the extent that it can be obtained from fruits and vegetables.
This salty mineral is also found in nature, in the form of sodium-chloride – NaCl – compounds, in ores, that is in stones. In this form it gives an extremely salty taste. Every enhanced, strong taste has a stimulating effect on the taste buds, and weakens them.
This means that when the taste buds get used to salted food, they lose the power to feel the subtle salty taste of unsalted food. And this leads further to their dependence on salty foods.
Salt, in the form of NaCl, is toxic to the body because:
- it damages the mucous cells of the inner wall of the digestive tract;
- it spoils digestion;
- the body retains water in the tissues in order to dilute the toxic salt;
- it causes cell dehydration;
Due to this toxic effect of salt on the body, the body has a mechanism to expel excess salt through sweat. This mechanism is regulated by the dam from the beginning of this lesson, which is called the hormone aldosterone.
- Elevated and decreased aldosterone level
eating unsalted food = normal aldosterone levels
eating salty foods = lowered aldosterone levels
So, when one has been on a salted food diet for a long time, they have a low level of aldosterone, which means: the dam is lowered, the body expels excess sodium through sweat liberally.
- Now, imagine a scenario:
A person with a low aldosterone level, that is their sweat dam is lowered, so the body excretes sodium liberally, has suddenly stopped consuming salted food.
Logically: this person has an indescribable desire to eat salted food, because the body always sends ACCURATE signals. In this case, the body says: We need more salt, because the dam is lowered, I excrete sodium to a great extent.
This scenario has two possible follow-ups:
- The person in question reintroduces salt into their diet and thus remains in a vicious circle.
- The person in question endures a period of adaptation to a diet without salted food, the body raises the dam, that is the level of the hormone aldosterone rises, and thus the body is capable of sparing sodium again. This results in the salty food craving to disappear.
- How long does it take for this adaptation?
It is highly individual, but on average, a month is a reasonable period of adaptation.
- The taste buds renewal
In the meantime, and under the influence of a new, salt-free diet, the taste bud cells strengthen and can feel the subtle salty tastes of vegetables again.
- What is important to know during the adaptation period
During the period of adaptation to a diet without salted foods, it is important not to practice strenuous physical activities, such as running a marathon, for example, because there could be fatigue due to the fact that the dam is still lowered, so the body is set to increased sodium excretion, while the dietary sodium intake is now reduced, and physical activity naturally leads to sweating.
Natural salty spices: dried celery, dried chard, dried tomatoes.