Salt and Human Health
Sodium chloride, more commonly known as salt, represents an essential element of life, being one of the elements the human body cannot do without. A certain amount of salt must be incorporated into our daily diet, not only because it is very rapidly eliminated by our bodies and also because it enhances the taste of our food, but above all because the recognition of salty taste by the body triggers the production of the saliva and gastric juices, both essential for food digestion. In addition, the presence of sodium and chloride is essential in the digestive processes, since they are both present in the gastric juices, in the saliva, in the pancreatic juice and in the bile. The sodium and the chloride act then at different levels, along the digestive tract, since sodium contributes to the absorption of glucides, while chloride, in the form of hydrochloric acid, is essential for the digestion of solids. In the US, the consumption of sodium is on an average about 3 grams a day, corresponding to the ingestion of 7-8 grams of salt.
The kidneys regulate the sodium balance. They are able to quickly adjust the sodium balance, when the quantity of salt varies between 1 and 16 grams a day. Under these conditions, there are no variations in the extra-cellular volume or in body weight. With quantities of salt higher than 16 grams a day, kidney adjustment requires 3-5 days, during which time an increase in the extra-cellular volume and in body weight is evident. After this period of time, the two values stabilize themselves to the new acquired levels. Sodium chloride is present for 2/3 in the extra-cellular liquids and for 1/3 it is primarily fixed within the bones. Every imbalance in the extra-cellular hydration is connected to anomalies in the presence of sodium (that is, of salt).
Sodium chloride can also be used as a treatment:
- In cases of glandular problems causing obesity, for instance, salt baths are very useful, even in cases of hypo function or hyper function of the thyroid.
- The application of dry or wet salt compresses reduces the excess liquid present in the tissues.
- For relief of swollen and sore feet, immerse them in a basin of warm water with a handful of salt.
- To reduce bags under the eyes apply compresses soaked in a teaspoon of salt dissolved in a 4 cups of warm water.
- Gargling with some salt and bicarbonate of soda dissolved in water disinfects the mouth, leaving a fresh breath.
- The inhalation of salt-water steam through the nose can relieve bothersome cases of phlegm or of inflammation of the respiratory mucosa.
- For an all natural peeling, try mixing a cream with honey and salt and massage it gently over the interested parts of the face.
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