News Stories

Should We Ban Salt?

Most people consume far too much salt, and researchers are trying to figure out why we crave it. It might put us in a better mood (but there are other things that do this as well).

Psychologist Kim Johnson found that when rats are deficient in sodium chloride (common table salt) they shy away from activities they normally enjoy, like drinking a sugary substance or pressing a bar that stimulates a pleasant sensation in their brains. Johnson days, "[This] leads us to believe that a salt deficit and the craving associated with it can induce one of the key symptoms associated with depression." (Who would have guessed it? The last food we heard was good for depression was chocolate).

The idea that salt is a natural mood-elevating substance could help explain why we're so tempted to over-ingest it, even though it's known to contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and other health problems.

High levels of salt are contained in everything from pancakes to pasta these days, but once upon a time, it was hard to come by. Salt consumption and its price skyrocketed around 2000 BC when it was discovered as a food preservative. Roman soldiers were paid in salt; the word salary is derived from the Latin for salt. Even when mechanical refrigeration lessened the need for salt in the 19th century, consumption continued in excess because people liked the taste and it had become fairly inexpensive. Today, 77% of our salt intake comes from processed and restaurant foods, like frozen dinners and fast food.

Evolution might have played an important part in this, since humans evolved from creatures that lived in salty ocean water. But as man evolved in the hot climate of Africa, perspiration robbed the body of sodium.

Matthew 5:13 says, "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 by men." This might have inspired columnist John Tierney, who in the April 7th edition of the New York Times, complains that New York City is using people as unwitting test subjects by pressuring restaurants to cut the amount of salt they use in half during the next decade (and people in that city are already grouchy enough already)!

Someone whose PERSONALITY might be described as salty is Jim Marrs, and he's one of the speakers at our upcoming Dreamland Festival in Nashville. Last year, aside from his regular talk, he had wide-ranging discussions in a nearby bar with other beer drinkers. For this year's festival, he has his drinking spot picked out already!

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