Salt has had a bad rap for too long. And it’s led to nausea, headaches, depression, and more. Yes, salt is actually essential for good health. Darryl Bosshardt is a salt expert, who has studied salt and minerals his whole life. Today, he explains what natural, well-sourced salt in the diet can do for us. He explains how salt, one of the world’s most prized foods, got its bad reputation in the first place. And he offers simple steps to ditch the fake stuff (industrialized table salt) and find the real deal that will nourish our bodies well on multiple levels.
Listen to the episode here:
Within the below transcript the bolded text is Hilda
Nausea, headaches, depression and more can be the result of a lack of salt in our diet. Salt, a much-maligned nutrient is essential for good health. This is Episode 311 and our guest is Darryl Bosshardt. Darryl from Redmond Real Salt is a salt expert, having studied salt and minerals his entire life. He explains the importance of natural well-sourced salt in the diet. He busts the myths that it causes high blood pressure. He goes into how salt, one of the world’s most prized foods, got its bad reputation in the first place. Finally, he shares simple steps to ditch the fake stuff and find the real salt that will nourish our bodies on multiple levels.
Welcome to the show, Darryl.
Hilda, it’s great to be on your program. Thanks for having me.
You are the salt king, newly dubbed by me. I want to know. I can’t believe you’re promoting salt because isn’t salt bad for us? I’ve heard a lot of recommendations to lower our sodium intake. What’s that all about?
We often hear that salt’s bad for us but yet at the same time, we might go into the hospital. The first thing they do is give us an IV of saline solution, which is saltwater. Salt’s not the problem. It’s the form that it’s in and the foods that it is on that become the problem.
Can you explain more?
From The Weston A. Price Foundation, the idea of healthy nutrient-dense foods and fermented foods goes hand in hand. All of your readers are probably aware of those things but the nature of salt changed. If we went back before the invention of the refrigerator, all of us would have eaten more salt because we would have had more meats in salt to preserve the meats in our jerkies. We would have had more fermented foods, sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles. Salt is necessary for food preservation. Around the turn of the century, we got the refrigerator, so people started eating differently and then the nature of salt also changed.
If we look at salt in nature, salt occurs as a complex chloride. Not only do we have sodium and chloride, which we have come to associate with table salt but seawater occurs with potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, calcium chloride and then dozens of other elements, minerals and trace forms. Things like iodine, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, manganese and all of these other trace elements. Around the turn of the century, the companies realized that they could take out these other complex fluorides and then still sell the demineralized leftover salt as solid. Some companies realize that they could take out some of these other minerals that occur in seawater.
Why would they even bother to take them out? Couldn’t they make table salt with those minerals in there?
They could. That’s the way it had always been done. One of the neat things about Weston A. Price, as you know, is the untold story of milk. The real value and the nutrition in milk aren’t the white liquid. It’s the cream and the fats that are with that milk. At one point, everybody bought milk as a whole product. The fat, the cream and all of that were sold together. At some point, they realized that a farmer could take off the cream, which is the nutrient-dense part of milk, could sell that to another company to use for butter, for cream or for ice cream. They could still sell the leftover, the flight part of milk. In effect, it increased their revenue because they could sell them off separately. Salt companies realized and started doing the same thing.
Darryl, I have the feeling money was going to be the bottom line here. Often when I do a deep dive to find out what’s behind the change, somebody is looking at the financial bottom line.
It seemed to make logical sense at the time because I don’t think people thought through the ripple effects. We weren’t looking at foods as holistic. We weren’t looking at medicine being our food. These ripple effects, as you know, were pretty devastating.
What happened next? Did the general population start to suffer from conditions that they wouldn’t have had if they had more salt in their diet?
After this change, we start seeing some studies linking salt to some problems. There’s another part of that story that we still haven’t talked about yet. Salt in nature is hygroscopic. Hygroscopic means sucks water out of the air like a dehumidifier. If you take a salt crystal and put it on your countertop on a very humid day, the salt crystal sucks water out of the air. This is important. We’ve talked about how salt is essential for life and why we get it in an IV in the hospital. One of the salt’s primary functions in the body is to regulate moisture. It regulates the inner cellular and extracellular fluids.
The way that nature has solved interacting with moisture is critical. Unfortunately, what happens when you have salt and is sucking water out of the air, the salt tends to clump and gets sticky. In a lot of places, people will put maybe rice with their salt or you’ll have to tap the shaker a little bit to break up the salt crystals. That’s normal. Around the same time, some salt companies got together and said, “What kind of chemicals can we add to salt to stop its ability to interact with moisture?”
In this campaign, they found several chemicals that they could add to salt that would coat the salt crystal and stop its ability to interact with moisture, which stops it from taking. The nice thing about that was you could have salt in a container on a rainy humid day and the salt will still pour out of the shaker. The marketing tagline with The Little Girl and The Umbrella that says, “When it rains, it pours” was because when it rains outside and it’s humid, the salt will still pour out of the shaker. It’s a fun look into history. At the time, I don’t think people thought anything of it. It was a great idea. We’re trying to revolutionize and bring food to this higher level but these ripple effects are pulling out the nutritional value of milk or pulling out these other trace minerals and salt.
When we add this chemical that stops moisture to salt that’s supposed to regulate moisture, it causes some problems. These chemicals are things like yellow prussiate of soda, which is sodium ferrocyanide, calcium silicoaluminate or sodium silicoaluminate. This is a similar anti-antiperspirant, anti-moisture type of chemical that salt companies started to add to salt to stop it from clumping. The challenge though in trace amounts, it’s probably okay. I can guarantee if you and I took two licks of antiperspirant before breakfast, we’re going to have some problems.
Some of them would be mental from the start because why would we be doing that, but I get you. This is the same thing that we see over and over again in our food, products, even in our cosmetics that they say, “We’ve tested it. This small trace amount isn’t going to hurt anybody.” It’s the cumulative effect that can be detrimental.
With those two issues, even though the demineralization of salt. We know that ascorbic acid is good for us. Oranges and citrus have ascorbic acid. If you would take an orange, you sucked out all the vitamin C and ascorbic acid, you sold that to a supplement company and then you sold the orange to the grocery store, you might not think anything of it at first but you stopped to think about where are the nutrition. The great part of the orange isn’t the color. It’s the citrus, the bioflavonoids and all of those things that make the orange special. Salt is the same way. Once we take out these other trace elements, the complex chlorides and we then add a bunch of chemicals that stop salt from doing what salt is supposed to do in the body.
The third part is that if we’re eating processed foods out of cans and boxes, there are high amounts of salt in those items. Salt is a natural preservative. You can make food cheap. You can make cheap food last longer by adding salt to it but the salt they’re adding to it is the demineralized and chemical version of salt. This trifecta of lack of minerals, a bunch of additives and then the food that the salt is on is generally cheap and bad food. If you go back to nature, you’re eating fresh and you’re intentionally going out of your way to find nutrient-dense food, then it becomes important to go out of your way to add good, healthy salt. You won’t be getting all of that processed salt once you switch over to a more natural and healthy living food source.
You’re making me think that you’re preaching to the choir because a lot of readers are doing what you said. We’re going out of our way to seek whole real foods that are nutrient-dense. We might as well do the same with our salts. Help us get started. If I wanted to find a naturally mineralized salt, where would I begin?
There are three questions that I tell people to ask. I’m a big fan of Redmond Real Salt that we harvest here in Utah but there are a lot of other great salts on the market. As much as I would like to say, “Use our salt. It’s the best,” I don’t say that because there are a lot of other good products out there. If you ask yourself these three questions, you’ll end up with a healthy, great salt. You can use those same three questions to find a great source of raw milk. You can ask it to find a great source of eggs, organ meat or whatever it is that you’re basing your diet around. These three questions are universal.
The first one is who’s producing it. When it comes to salt, knowing the producer becomes a bit of a challenge because you might walk into a grocery store or a big box store and buy sea salt, pink salt or something off the shelf but it’s hard to know the face of the person that’s producing it. Once you can find that person and know who that person is, it makes the second two questions a lot easier. The second question is to know the source. There are a lot of places you can get salt from. It can come from a current ocean like the San Francisco Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, the Sea of Japan, the Mediterranean. The dead sea like the Dead Sea in Israel or the dead sea here in Utah or an ancient seabed. Those are the three potential places you can get salt from.
What’s number three?
The number three is, what’s the process? There are a lot of different things that people can do to salt or to anything. If you know who’s producing it, you know the source and you know the process, whether you’re getting raw milk, eggs, cheese, kale or natural salt, you’ll find a lot better product.
I was thinking about how we have bumper stickers that say, “Know your farmer.” We could say like, “Know your salt farmer,” but that would be harder to find. We can identify the source. We can identify the process as we get closer to the source. I’m glad you’re mentioning this because I see a lot of salts for sale that look good on the outside but I can’t tell if they’re the real deal. I’ve even heard there’s fake pink Himalayan salt. Is that possible?
It’s not fake. That would be a little bit harder. The challenge with the pink salts is there are dozens. I’ve heard hundreds of mines that produce that product. It gets sent out largely from Pakistan to the coast. It’s co-mingled and then shipped across to the US, resold and then repackaged. Buying a pink salt, knowing which of those mines it came from, what processes they’re using, what labor practices they’re using do become a bit of a challenge.
The other thing is somebody told me they might be commingling pink sea salt with regular sea salt. On the back of one of the little packages of salt my friend got, it had both labeled that said pink sea salt and then it says sea salt. She’s like, “I wonder if they’re mixing it up.”
It’s possible. A lot of that salt is dumped into a big general category. It’s packaged and resold. There are some Himalayan pink salts and there’s a great pink salt that comes from Bolivia. It’s called Bolivian pink or Bolivian Rose. The real salt here in Utah, they are all geologically very similar. They’re all ancient seabeds. The scientists or geologists would say they’re 150 to 250 million-year-old seabeds, because they get co-mingled and they ship so far, if you can know the source, know who’s producing it, it becomes a lot easier to know what processes they’re using.
Let’s talk about those processes. What is the most natural process that you are aware of?
If we go back to history, the ways that mankind always sourced salt was either from a current ocean. You go to the coast of Brittany, France, seawater occurs at about 3% salt and seawater can hold a maximum of 26% salt. The salt will fall out of suspension. The way humans have always gathered salt would be to take that seawater from the Mediterranean or wherever the coast is. Pull the seawater into a clay line pond. They line the pond with clay, so the water doesn’t seep into the ground. By lining it with clay, it’s a barrier. That clay was typically in the Mediterranean area, a gray clay. As the saltwater evaporates and leaves salt crystals, it leaves the salt a light gray color because it’s picking up the gray clays, which enriching minerals in addition to the natural seawater. In Hawaii, they would do it the same way. In Hawaii, that clay was a red clay pond. You get this Hawaiian red salt that has a dusty flavor. They are both are great products.
The other way to do that is you watch animals. Animals will find their way to natural ancient seabeds. They will paw or dig at the surface and find those minerals, those salt beds that are under the earth. That’s how the deposit in Utah was found as well as the Bolivian and the Pakistan, Himalayan deposits were found. We’re watching animals. Humans watching animals and seeing them access to salt. Salt is essential for life. The civilizations would start around access to those salt deposits. The other way you can make salt is you use that same process. You pull the water out of the San Francisco Bay. Instead of leaving it altogether, you use a different membrane that lines that pond.
You can leach out the different chlorides based on what liner you have in that pond rather than having that whole sea product sea salt together, you can still sell it as sea salt because it starts at the sea but you can still leach off those different minerals. The one other way is called solution mining. You can take fresh water and pump it deep into the earth into a salt deposit from an ancient seabed. Suck the water back out that has salt with it and then evaporate it at that point. When you do that, typically you would end up adding other chemicals to it, so the salt crystals don’t clump.
If we want to get to the bottom of how salt is processed by a company that we’ve come across or a producer, do we scour their website? Where is this data found? It sounds to me like, no pun intended, you’ve done some deep diving into this stuff.
It’s like any food source. Some companies are a lot more transparent. You can see and find the information you’re looking for on their site. Oftentimes it’s hard just by looking at a label because with some labels, you don’t have a lot of room and it’s not as detailed as maybe we would like as a consumer. If you can’t find the answers online, picking up the phone calling the salt company, calling the dairy or calling the farmer and say, “I’m interested in your products. Can you tell me a little bit more? What soil is this grown in? What chemicals are you using in the process? What heat and processes are being used?” Being a little more conscious, aware and a little more engaged in our food, we will end up with a lot higher, more nutrient-dense food choices.
There might be some people saying, “That’s going too far. I would never call the salt company.” Let me tell you this. Having conversed with Sally Fallon Morell and other experts on the show, including yourself, I am well aware of how important salt is for our diet. We got one testimonial from a young man who said he was depressed and when he started adding real mineralized, naturally mineralized salt into his diet, his depression lifted. I’m not saying it’s a cure at all but the point is for healthy brain function and hormonal function, we need salt.
In fact, if you look at the human body and the human process, visiting here one minute and being dead the next minute outside of a spiritual discussion, the real difference is the absence of an electric current. My hand moves because an electric current passes through from my mind down to my hand to tell my fingers to move. Our bodies have to conduct electricity. Salt is an electoral light because it conducts electricity. If our salt levels drop, all kinds of bad things start happening, depression, nausea, being ornery. We talk a lot about hydration and how important it is to drink water but if you don’t have salt with the water that you’re drinking, you’re flushing all of those electrolytes.
If you’ve ever tasted your tears, they’re salty. If you’ve tasted your sweat from your arms, it’s salty. I wouldn’t recommend it but if you tasted your urine, it will be salty. We are flushing salts all of the time through our bodies because salt is so essential. Those salt levels drop because we’re working, we’re exercising, we’re sweating, we’re eating great clean foods but we’re not adding the natural mineral salt, our digestion starts to go. Our sleep ability starts to go and our headaches. There are all kinds of problems that start to creep in when our salt levels are too low. Eventually, we can even die because of hyponatremia, which is low salt.
My mind is blown when I think about how important it is to our bodies. I know that the word salary, for example, the root of it is salt. People used to be paid in salt, didn’t they?
They did in the times of Rome. Salt was so essential for life, so they were paid a salary. The Roman soldiers were paid in salt because they could use it universally to trade. The old saying, “Is a man’s worth its salt,” comes from the same idea. If you’re getting paid in salt and you’re not earning your keep, you’re not working hard enough, then you would say this, “Is this man worth his salt? He’s getting paid and he’s not working hard enough to justify his salary.”
Darryl, this is great. Let me ask you about one more element, iodine. We know it’s good for us. I’ve interviewed some folks who say it’s critical for our health. What about iodized salt?
Iodine next to salt is so important. No discussion on salt without iodine would be amiss because iodine is so essential for life. As you point out, most of your readers, including you and me, are probably a little bit iodine deficient because it’s such an important nutrient. Salt and iodine weren’t always tied together. The reason that we think about those elements together is that around World War I, the US was drafting men from all over but in the Midwest, particularly, they noticed that there was an iodine deficiency causing a greater problem in the Midwest. Keep in mind about this time people are eating a lot of processed foods in the Midwest. They don’t have access to good sources of fresh seafood and seaweed, which are rich in natural iodine.
The government got together and said, “We need to find a way to stop this greater problem because we can’t draft a man in the military if they have a goiter.” I would hope that in this discussion, these bright minds of the world said, “Why don’t we have a campaign that says, eat more iodine or eat foods rich in iodine? Let’s eat more kelp, more seaweed, more fish and more of those, even mozzarella cheese and these other natural foods that are rich in iodine.” That didn’t happen or if it did, that’s not where they ended. What they ended on was trying to find a food source that they could put process iodine with to force more iodine consumption. Similar to how in some municipalities, fluoride is added to water supplies to encourage or to force people to eat fluoride.
What they found was they tried to add iodine to different things people always ate. They tried to add it to flour. I would assume they looked into the water. I don’t know for sure. What they ended up on was salt because they could take potassium iodide, specifically. They could add it to salt and it was shelf-stable. People have to eat salt to live if they force or put iodine with salt. In effect, it forces people to eat more iodine. It worked. It did solve the problem. People started eating more iodine. The challenge though is that when you take potassium iodine and add it to salt, it’s less than 10% bioavailable. Iodine is essential for life but when you put it with salt, it’s a very poor nutrient version of iodine. I encourage everybody to seek out great foods rich in iodine but iodized salt is a poor way to get iodine.
Thank you for that. I was wondering about that. Let me ask you. If real salt is what we need to be adding to our diet, how much do you recommend per day?
There are a couple of great books. One of my favorites is from several years ago but the book is called Your Body’s Many Cries for Water written by Dr. Batmanghelidj. Dr. Batmanghelidj said that we should fall apart food liberally, assuming you’re eating natural, clean, unprocessed foods. For every quart of water that we drink, we should add a quarter a teaspoon of salt to that quart of water. Most of us probably aren’t drinking enough water. People are drinking too much other stuff but not water. As you drink enough water, which in his book, he suggests at least half your body weight in ounces.
Some professionals think that might be too little or too much but using his half your body weight in ounces. If I weigh 150 pounds, I should be drinking about 75 ounces roughly three quarter, give or take of good, clean, natural water and adding a quarter teaspoon of salt to offset that water to give us that great mineral electrolyte balance in our body. That’s a good place to start. Not being afraid of salting our food liberally. As we listen to our bodies talk, our bodies crave things. It craves water when we’re thirsty. It craves salt when we’re low on salt.
Because of the Standard American Diet, as people are eating better natural clean foods, their level of salt drops. We talked about how important salt levels are in the body. We need to go out of our way to add great healthy salt and food. If we listen to our bodies talk, we can find those better food sources. Unfortunately, sometimes we think we’re craving sugar or we’re craving potato chips but what we’re craving is salt. What I recommend is putting a natural mineral salt on your countertop with larger pepper corn-sized crystals of salt. As you walk past, if you have a food craving, if you think you’re craving sugar or processed foods, put those little salt crystals under your tongue. Most people realize that satisfies a lot of those cravings.
That is great advice. I know our readers are going to love it. I do. Darryl, let me ask you as we start to wrap up. You may have already answered this question along the way but if you could give the reader one piece of advice, one thing they could do to improve their health, what would you recommend that they do?
For me, what I’ve found is trying to live intentionally. Sometimes we’ll set big audacious goals and it seems overwhelming. Having awareness or trying to live more intentionally then accomplishes the small parts of those goals. If I try to live intentionally and seek out better foods rather than having all this list of do’s and don’ts, I find that my mind, my body, my preferences and the way I look at life starts to change. If I had one piece of advice, it would be to try to live intentionally and then see where it takes you.
Thank you so much for this conversation, Darryl. I enjoyed it.
Hilda, thanks for having me on your program.
About Darryl Bosshardt
Darryl Bosshardt is passionate about healthy living, healthy eating and life-long learning.
Darryl grew up working for the family mineral business in Redmond, UT and then earned a Bachelor of Science degree at Southern Utah University followed by an MBA at Western Governor’s University.
- Darryl Bosshardt – LinkedIn
- Sally Fallon Morell – Previous episode
- Your Body’s Many Cries for Water
- Wise Traditions – Apple Podcasts