The benefits of sea salt

Sea salt has been used therapeutically, by our ancestors, for thousands of years. The word salary came from the word for salt as it was used as currency for years.  Seen as a precious commodity to season food, preserve food and boost health. Salt like Celtic sea salt, volcanic salt and Himalayan sea salt that are generally grey, black, or pink in colour. People need to eat salt for normal cell function and to maintain the acid balance of the blood. These salts are actually very helpful in balancing the body, the  concentration of minerals and nutrients in seawater, matches the concentration of minerals in our blood. Using salt may help to provide the body the nutrients lacking from our soils and therefore some of our foods. Of course it enhances the flavour notes in our food!

Sea salt comes from evaporating seawater, Himalayan Pink Salt comes from mining ancient sea salt deposits from the mountains in the himalayan mountains. To be impressed at the number of minerals you may find in salt, have a look at the analysis of minerals found in Himalayan Pink Salt here

Here are some of the benefits of salt:

1. Keeps you hydrated

Sea salt is extremely beneficial in keeping us hydrated, which may surprise us as we know if we were stranded at sea and only had sea water to drink we would suffer. The amount of electrolytes in sea salt help our cells to absorb the water. Therefore a little salt in our water may also satisfy our thirst for a longer period of time and allow us to absorb fluids, rehydrating us.

Because of this comprehensive mineral content, sea salt is a great source of electrolytes like magnesium, calcium, potassium, and sodium. These electrolytes are also vital for muscle, brain and heart health and cellular function.

Try making your own effective electrolyte drink; adding a pinch of sea salt to a glass of water with a squeeze of lemon or orange.

2. Reduces fluid retention

 
Eating real food (instead of processed foods) and season your cooking with sea salt may to help eliminate bloat and water retention.

3. A great source of minerals 

So most sea salts have been shown to contain up to 84 trace minerals that we can absorb. These may help us to redress any micronutrient deficiencies we may have to nourish and strengthen our body. Our soil has shown to be been depleted of these essential minerals because of over farming, mono cropping and chemical pesticides used. This is showing a potential deficit in essential minerals that used to be prevalent in our food produce. Sea salt also has a more complete symbiosis of minerals in the right ratios, this makes those nutrients more absorbable and useable in the body, far better than single nutrient supplements and even some multi nutrient recipes.

Use a pinch of sea salt each day can really add up that extra nutrient profile.

When your electrolytes are low, you can experience muscle soreness, cramps, low energy levels, and even restless leg syndrome. The lack of minerals (especially magnesium) may keep the muscles from relaxing and cause muscle tension that is not necessarily due to workload on the muscles. Salt baths can be recommended for any kind for muscle fatigue or excessive cramping.  With the osmosis process, toxins will be drawn out of the body in a salt bath and the mineral profile will be absorbed.

Add 1/2 cup of sea salt to your bath water and use any of your favourite essential oils for a relaxing and replenishing bath

5. May  help balance bacteria levels. (see here)

Salt may help to balance some types of bacteria levels on the skin, in wounds and in the intestines by using the osmosis process. The water in the bacterial cells is effectively sucked out of them. Without water, bacterial cannot function and eventually the cell collapses in on itself and dies. Some bacteria have a built in system to resist this process. Others seem to consume the salt. Studies on salt and bacterial balance are still being done to understand this. Brines in preserved and fermented foods help to maintain an acidic environment which also prevents mould to thrive.
 
Consume salt fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi.

6. Great for skin health

Have you ever noticed that your skin feels softer and smoother after some time spent at the sea? You may have even noticed cuts, grazes, rashes, eczema, and psoriasis heal faster. Many people notice skin improvements after a holiday where they will go for a swim in the sea. As discussed before, our bodies contain the same concentration of minerals and nutrients as seawater does.  Salt water is full of with skin-necessary minerals like magnesium, calcium, and potassium, which are then are easily absorbed into your body through the skin. These nutrients also may play a role in anti-inflammatory effects beneficial for skin and whole body health. It is no surprise that there are many beauty products that use sea salt, like salt scrubs that while exfoliating skin, also help to increase circulation, and providing the skin with nutrients. 

Use salt with coconut oil as a drawing out salve for acne, or as a scrub or cleanser.

7. Improves digestion

Sea salt is necessary for the digestion system, which begins in the mouth. Salivary amylase, which is an enzyme which helps break down carbohydrates found in your saliva, is activated by the flavour of salt on the tastebuds on the tongue. The nutrients in salt play a stimulating role in the making of hydrochloric acid, which is secreted and necessary in the stomach for the breakdown of food, especially proteins and fats. Many people are insufficient in quality and quantity hydrochloric acid, and this may in turn, lead to  numerous digestive issues like bloating, gas, heartburn, indigestion.

Season your food whilst cooking or on your plate. Or make the replenishing electrolyte drink seen above.

8. Nourishes the adrenal glands

Adrenal fatigue may occur from prolonged stress (fight or flight mechanism) and poor diet. With adrenal hormone level insufficiency, one of the main symptoms you may experience is salt cravings. This is because the body is craving the nutrients it finds in sea salt. Among their numerous demanding functions, our adrenal glands release hormones that target the kidneys to regulate sodium and potassium levels. To make  this particular job easier, the adrenals favour a balance of these minerals through the consumption of high quality sea salt. By giving the body the nutrients the body’s cells need for optimum function, the nervous system is also calmed and rest and recovery becomes more possible.

Instead of eating a salty packet of crisps or processed food, try having a pinch of salt in a glass of water or a salt bath to satisfy the body’s cravings.

9. Regulates blood pressure

It may be surprising, but sea salt is even greatly beneficial for regulating blood pressure. If the nutrient profile in the blood is the right ratio of water to nutrients, the blood can flow easier and inflammation may become reduced. The rise in blood pressure may often the result of inflammation in the body, potentially caused by a high sugar, processed food diet devoid of most nutrients. This may create a deficient in blood nutrient ratios. With all of the benefits as above, balancing bacteria levels, improving the immune system, increasing hydration levels, removing toxins and calming the nervous system we may also seen a benefit to the circulatory system, in particular blood pressure.

So there you have it, salt still remains as a precious commodity. One that needs a presence for the interior and exterior of your body…

 

How to Ferment; Kimchi

Kimchi is a traditional Korean ferment. There are hundreds of variations using cabbage, radish, scallion or cucumber as the main ingredient. The paste can contain a variety of ingredients. There may be more than 187 different varieties, all from different regions of Korea. Traditional ingredients will may use garlic, ginger, red pepper, some also add sugar, vinegar, fish sauce or paste to add to their recipe. Families will pass on their different seasonal varieties and they are traditionally buried in the ground to ferment.

Traditionally made by brining the vegetables and then mixing in a paste before packing it into a fermentation vessel to become full of probiotic bacteria and flavour.Kimchi Loula Natural

Fermented cabbage has a long history of providing benefits for many different health conditions (see my sauerkraut here and a flavoured version here). The fermentation process produces the living probiotic microorganisms that are beneficial to the digestive and immune system, plus making nutrients in the foods being fermented come to life and are more accessible.

The fermentation process increases the bioavailability of nutrients rendering Kimchi even more nutritious than the original starting points.Brining Kimchi Loula Natural

Salt is one of the most amazing natural products. Hugely beneficial to the body when consumed in the right way. I am often asked which salt to use- these are my salts of choice:

Sea salt – originates from drying the sea water in the sun, salt lakes or other methods. This is what I prefer and generally prefer those from Wales, France or Scotland. Sea salt nutrients can vary and may contain up to 80 or more minerals than table salt (which is refined down to one or two) it will hugely depend on where the sea salt was obtained.  In addition to sodium and chlorine, you are likely to find potassium, phosphorus, calcium, sulfur. Trace minerals in sea salt can include iron, iodine, manganese, zinc, bromine, boron, copper. 

Pink Himalayan salt – this salt is traditionally harvested in the Pakistan  side of the Himalayan mountain range and the pink colour may be due to the salt containing iron oxide. Harvested from caves of ocean salt settled into geological pockets. It is an unrefined, unprocessed raw mineral, mainly mined by hand. The salt can be up to 250 million years old, which is pretty cool! Its nutrient content is similar to sea salt (since they both originated from the sea). 

I use these two salts in fermenting, in cooking, in the bath, as a scrub, as salt lamps and also on the carpets to help deep clean them. 

Kimchi
This is a basic Kimchi recipe. There are around 187 different variations of Kimchi, this one uses Chinese cabbage, daikon radish and carrot. I have made this one sugar free and suitable for vegans and vegetarians as it is also seafood free.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 head of Chinese cabbage thinly sliced
  2. 1 daikon radish thinly sliced
  3. 2 carrots thinly sliced
  4. 1.5% weight sea salt/ pink Himalayan salt
  5. 10 garlic cloves
  6. 1 ½ inches fresh ginger
  7. 1 ½ tbsp. Korean red pepper
  8. 1tsp coconut sugar (optional)
  9. 1tsp Fish sauce or water
  10. 1tsp fish paste (you can also use seaweed)
Instructions
  1. Weigh cabbage, radish and carrot to work out how much salt is needed.
  2. Try and retain one of the out side leaves for later. Add the thinly sliced cabbage to a non reactive bowl (plastic or ceramic)..
  3. Weigh and add the salt to the vegetable in water. Mix into the cabbage with your hands to massage and work in the salt. Leave for 1-8 hours.
  4. Make the paste by adding the remaining ingredients to a mini chopper and pulsing until a paste.
  5. Drain the vegetables from the brine, taste to determine saltiness. (note the saltiness will mellow). Rinse if necessary.
  6. Wearing gloves, mix in the paste, massaging the vegetables.
  7. Add to your fido jar pushing the vegetables down with a wooden spoon, potato masher or fingers. You will notice the brine being created and rising up to the top of the cabbage.
  8. When all the vegetables are in the jar then you place the retained cabbage leaf on the top- this will ensure all the stray bits remain under the brine. You may weigh down the cabbage with either ceramic baking beads, marbles, rocks or a shot glass. This step is not compulsory but does help the first few days of fermenting as it makes it easy to continue to push the kraut down to keep the cabbage in the brine.
  9. Leave for 1-2 weeks on the counter and taste, depending on the temperature and humidity levels of your fermenting spot- leave for up to 28 days. Ferment to taste so continue to taste and then refrigerate when you like it!
Notes
  1. It is optional to use 1tsp fish paste, you can also use seaweed in the paste.
Loula Natural https://loulanatural.com/
 Mixing in paste Loula Natural

Here is my video on how to make the paste to add to your vegetables:

When it comes to flavoring your Kimchi the only limitations are what you have available!

You can add anything. Play with other root vegetables, using vinegar, fish sauce and other spices in your paste (like turmeric, cumin or coriander).

Kimchi is added to most foods, soups, noodles, stews, pancakes and so on. It is really nice mixed in to sauces like BBQ, mayo and ketchup. Kimchi is also delicious with cheese and also eggs…

Kimchi Cheese on toast Loula Natural

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