Salt: To Eat, or Not To Eat?
March 9, 2022
I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about salt recently. Why we need it, how much we need, and what kind of salt to use. Salt can be a controversial health topic when it comes to answering these questions, as doctors and dietitians have spent decades telling patients to reduce their sodium intake. But just as sodium has gotten a bad rap for so many years, so did unsaturated fats that are just recently starting to be recognized as “healthy fats” that help to lower bad cholesterol. Think of butter or lard for example. Doctors have been wrong before about the dietary restrictions they recommend, and I think salt is no different.
Salt is a necessary mineral for supporting life on earth and its main purpose is regulating the balance of fluids in our bodies. Without salt, our bodies are unable to retain fluids and we become dehydrated, even if we drink plenty of water. If you are looking for more hard facts and science about the need for salt in your own diet, I highly recommend reading “The Salt Fix: Why Experts Got It All Wrong - and How Eating More Might Save Your Life” by Dr. James DiNicolantonio.
While Dr. DiNicolantonio is speaking specifically about humans’ need for salt in this book, farmers have long known the importance of salt for our animals' diets as well. When animals don’t get enough salt, their health declines and their productivity slows way down. Cows struggle to maintain a supply of milk, chickens don’t lay eggs consistently, and overall growth and health declines. At Grass Corp., we offer all of our cattle and sheep free-choice of salt and other minerals. This means they have continuous access to eat as much or as little salt as they wish, kind of like a buffet. For the pigs and poultry, we add salt and minerals to their custom grain ration.
Besides sodium, different sources of salt contain varying amounts of trace minerals. Iodine is an important trace mineral found in salt, not to mention phosphorus, bromine, boron, zinc, iron, manganese, copper, and silicon. By limiting salt in our own diets or our animals, we are denying ourselves essential minerals that are needed to maintain robust health.
But how much salt is too much and how do we know if we’ve over consumed? These are fair questions, but ones that we need not be concerned about. Humans and other animals have been given a complex salt regulating system by the Creator and Dr. DiNicolantonio describes how it works wonderfully in his book. Our appetite for salt will vary based on our need for it. Our bodies know what they need and will not overindulge in salt consumption.
Photo: This is the salt we are currently using for the animals. Note its gray color and some visible specks of minerals.
At Grass Corp. we keep salt that is rich in trace minerals on hand for the animals and in our own kitchen. We avoid using standard, white, iodized table salt that is processed at extremely high temperatures removing minerals and giving it a pure, white color. Quality salt is non-negotiable in the diets of our animals and ourselves. The salt we use is typically sourced from ancient, dried up sea beds in Utah or Kansas and the color of the salts vary depending on the minerals in them. You may even experience this when using salted butter from our farm! If you see small dark specks in the butter, I promise it’s just some trace minerals from the added salt and your body will thank you for it :)
Follow the links below for Dr. DiNicolantonio’s book and other resources about salt, including what salts are best to use and which ones you may want to avoid. You can also write in the comments to join the conversation and share your own experience on the topic.