Keith reached for the salt shaker on the chest next to our dining room table. “I don’t really like my food this salty, but since we don’t eat processed food, which is high in salt, and my blood tests consistently indicate that I’m low in sodium, I have to add salt.” I pursed my lips.
“I know you think salt is bad for us,” he said, “because that’s what health experts have been saying for years. But recent research indicates that might be wrong. Apparently, salt deficiency is the problem, especially for people on blood pressure medication.” Since Keith was experiencing dizziness, muscle cramps, and dehydration, his doctor cut his blood pressure medication in half and told him to add more salt to his diet.
In her book, Taste and See, Margaret Feinberg wrote about consulting a doctor after her husband expressed similar concern about her sodium intake: “After double-checking my blood pressure, the doctor explained that salt sensitivity varies. For some, blood pressure spikes with salt consumption. For others, it plummets or doesn’t respond at all. To my relief, the doctor affirmed I can eat all the salt I want…”
According Conan Milner’s article “Rethinking the War on Salt,” published in The Epoch Times on March 17, 2021, “Our body requires sodium for many processes: fluid balance, cardiovascular function, transmission of nerve impulses, and muscle contraction. But because salt can also increase blood pressure, health experts urge us to consume as little as necessary.” But only a small portion of the population who lower their salt intake also lower their blood pressure, and only by a few points. In focusing solely on lowering salt consumption, we’ve ignored the greater risks associated with the lack of salt.
We’ve also ignored the savor of salt in us.
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. Matthew 5:13 NIV
The word salt comes from the Latin sal. So valuable was salt that Roman soldiers were often paid in salt—thus the word salary—and nearly every major Roman city was built near a source of salt. It’s estimated that the average Roman consumed about three times the salt we do today.
Why? As Milner explained, our bodies need salt, a mineral primarily composed of sodium chloride, sodium being a necessity for life. Salt is a food and life preservative, a flavoring to savor for many reasons. Too little can encourage harmful bacterial growth and increase the risk of food-borne illnesses. Substituting chemicals for salt is harmful, too. Food manufacturers usually add sugar to make low-salt food taste better. But more and more research points to sugar as our problem, with health risks from weight increase to insulin resistance to fat storage. We eat far more sugar than our ancestors did, and unlike salt, sugar’s white crystals are addictive. And our food loses its saltiness.
Same with the metaphorical salt Jesus referenced in the Sermon on the Mount. No surprise, salt shares the same Latin origin as the word salvation.
What kind of salt is best?
Table salt is bleached white and contains additives, including sugar, to help it flow freely from a shaker. There many salts readily available: sea salt of various colors and from various regions of the world, kosher, Himalayan, smoked, and others. But watch for unwanted additives and missing essential minerals, such as iodine, which we need in our diet. Both Milner and Feinberg recommended salt harvested from ancient sources, such as the family-owned dried-up lake in Utah she visited for her book.
So, now when Keith picks up the salt shaker, I no longer purse my lips because I know he’s taking care of his physical deficiency. Instead I focus on the salt I need to increase in my daily diet: being straightforward, trustworthy, showing the love of Christ to others.
I wish you a blessed Holy Week. May you savor the salt.
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