Salt, so important to human health and disease, is also prominent in HUMAN HISTORY. Civilization has required it from earliest times. Cereal grains, the ‘Staff of life” is relatively low in SODIUM CHLORIDE, salt, making it a desirable food additive.
PRESERVATION of food before refrigeration required salt. Natron (Natrium is latin for salt, and Na is its chemical symbol) was the Egyptian city known for its salt. Salary was an income supplement to Roman Legionnaires for purchase of salt.
Salt, gold and slaves were prominent in north African trade, and salt was often as valuable, ounce for ounce, as gold. “Below the salt” in medieval times meant the “cheap seats” in Feasts; only the “high table” had salt.
SEA WATER was about 0.9% salt at the dawn of Life, and that is presently the salt concentration in EXTRACELLULAR FLUID.
TASTE BUDS are happy with salty foods, and one set is specialized to pick up salty favors. The 4 others are sweet, sour, bitter and umami. As you can see, these taste buds were pro-evolutionary in our paleolithic ancestors.
The extra salt, sugar, and fats that taste so good in our present modern, excessive society are over-generously supplied by capitalistic producers intent on enhancing sales. Portions keep getting ever larger to encourage us to eat more.
Salt supports BLOOD PRESSURE, and sometimes ER Patients in shock are given saline infusions. More commonly, HYPERTENSION is treated by salt restriction, as illustrated in the accompanying Infographic.
POTASSIUM is the most common cation in the INTRACELLULAR FLUID, just as Sodium is most common in the Extracellular fluid. Our bodies fastidiously defend narrow concentration limits of Sodium, Potassium and other electrolytes which are important constituents of the famous Milieu interieur.
It is interesting that the Sodium-Potassium ATP Pump requires a large percentage of the ENERGY used to keep us alive. This pump also keeps our cell membranes POLARIZED, so important in NERVE TRANSMISSION.
So eat a lot of NATURAL FOODS, high in potassium, and avoid the catsup, sauces and condiments that riddle our high sodium, Fast food, modern diets.