True or Salt? Health myths about salt debunked

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Salt water heals all; sweat, tears or the sea, by Jade Hunter

As a surfer and ocean baby, I always loved this quote. I even have it on a T-shirt. Although, the more I thought about it, the more I wondered about the surprising claims about salt, outside of a diet necessity. In our modern world of blogs and Instagram quotes, everyone is searching for the key to ultimate wellness, but are our favorite salty declarations supported by science? Can jumping in the ocean, doing hot yoga or having a good cry make you healthier? During my research, I discovered that, although these things can make us feel better, salt isn’t necessarily a part of that story. Here are some other salty myths I uncovered in my search.

Himalayan Salt lamps clean the air: False.
Himalayan salt lamps are large chunks of salt with a light bulb placed inside them. Due to the negative ions of the salt, it is said that the lamps have several health benefits. One of the most popular claims is air purification by the water particles that are attracted to the lamp. Once the water connects to the warm lamp, they evaporate as salt to form negative ions and change the electrical charge in the air around the lamp. This is one of the reasons that salt lamps are popular in Yoga studios, homes, and alternative health clinics. This ionizing of the air from the salt ions are thought to be balancing for your body, much like ocean mist or air after a storm when these ions are produced naturally. Although these lamps are very pretty, it is now widely recognised that they don’t produce a meaningful enough amount of ions to have health benefits or change the electrical charge of the circulating air. However, the low light can be very calming for some people, so if this is the case then the lamps may be positive for your mental health, to calm the nervous system, especially if used to in preparation for meditation. But this is from the ambiance created, and candles or other dim lamps will create the same soothing effect.

Craving salty food means you’re lacking minerals: False
Although many people believe that salt cravings mean more about your body, such as having a sodium deficiency (hyponatremia), leading nutritionist Dr. Tim Crowe reminds us that very little research has been done in this area except for desire, in that we just like salty foods. Sodium deficiency can be caused by drinking too much water or too much fluid in the body, some medical conditions or medications. Symptoms range from headaches and dizziness to muscle spasms, cramps and in severe cases even seizures or lowered consciousness. It’s true that to treat minor sodium deficiency it may mean a lifestyle or diet change, and possibly including more salty foods. Although it doesn’t mean that your body will recognise this and give you ‘cravings’ for salt. So the next time you feel like potato chips, unfortunately, it’s not a free pass to have as many as you like because your body ‘needs’ it.

Sweat detoxes your body: False
There is a common misconception about “sweating out toxins” from your body. It is often believed that in the saltiness of our sweat, our pores are removing things our body can’t process. The truth is that eliminating of toxins is done in the liver and kidneys, not through our skin. Our sweat glands are there to regulate our body temperature and sweat is made up of water, sodium, chloride and small amounts of potassium. Less than 1% of sweat is made up of toxins, nowhere near enough to have a cleansing effect on the body. But even though it’s not detoxing, exercising has so many positive benefits for the body, that it’s a vital part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

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