Trovato Nutrition has several adept health and wellness writers that will be sharing their knowledge with you.
Real Salt Part 2
The last article discussed how salt is not really the blood pressure-raising demon that most people believe it is. The article ended with how we needed to further clarify the quality of salt. So here we go:
What is salt? Table salt is sodium chloride. It is mined from the earth and is typically pictured to be the little bottle of white crystals sitting right next to the pepper. When you go to the store to buy salt, what brand do you buy? Does it matter? Salt is salt, right?
No. Not all salt is created equal.
The ingredient list of table salt might surprise you. You would expect to see “salt,” or “sodium chloride.” Many salts, however, contain additives like anti-caking agents and even sugar in the form of dextrose. Most salts are chemically and heat processed and bleached and are completely stripped of the trace minerals that are supposed to naturally be included.
A general rule of thumb when looking for quality salt is to stay away from any brand that is refined. Some might be honest and say refined right on the label, but others do not. Common ingredients that you can look for to tell you if the salt has been refined are Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Iodide, Silicon Dioxide, Yellow Prussiate of Soda (YPS), Sodium Ferro Cyanide (E535), Sodium Silicoaluminate, Magnesium Carbonate, Magnesium Oxide, Calcium Silicate, Potassium Iodide, Tricalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Potassium Bitartrate, Potassium Glutamate, Adipic Acid, Fumaric Acid, Polyethylene Glycol 400, Disolium Inosinate, Polysilicate, Potassium Iodide, and Dextrose. Dextrose is sugar. Yes, sugar is even hidden in some salts!
Sugar is usually added to salts when potassium iodide is being used. The sugar acts as a stabilizer for the iodide and color. Sea salt with potassium iodide and dextrose are not natural. They are chemically added and should be avoided.
What about sea salt? Is sea salt better than regular table salt?
This is a funny question because there really is no difference between the two. The term sea salt is a weird label since all salt is technically sea salt. Different brands harvest their salt from different sources. Some might come from current oceans, some from dead seas, and some from ancient seabeds, but the sea is, or was, the origin of all salt. Most brands of “sea salt” are chemically processed, leaving them just as damaged and demineralized as typical white table salt. When looking for a high-quality sea salt, check the label for terms like “unrefined” and “contains natural trace minerals,” and make sure there are no additives.
Even if you were able to find a sea salt that wasn’t processed, there is still the issue of contamination. The problem with mining salt from the sea is that most seas are polluted to some degree with toxins: Acid rain, mercury, lead, toxic waste, sewage, garbage, radiation, and oil spills. Those toxins can get into the salt crystals.
Real Salt is harvested and kept in its completely natural form. It is packaged without additives, chemicals, or heat processing of any kind. Real Salt’s pink hue and flecks of color come from more than 60 naturally occurring trace minerals.
Where does Real Salt come from?
In 1959, there was a farm in central Utah that was struggling to keep their crops growing. They figured out that there was a salt deposit that extended beneath their lands. They began mining the salt and using it to feed their animals, season their food, and sell to other local farms. People insisted that their “Real Salt” be made available for purchase and the brand was born. Geologists believe that the Real Salt deposit is the remnant of an ancient inland sea, most likely part of what they call the Sundance Sea. This would set its origin sometime within the Jurassic Period. The salt that settled at the bottom of the sea was trapped within the earth, eventually being pushed up near the surface close to the town of Redmond, Utah.
The fascinating part is that the Real Salt deposit lies approximately 30 feet below the surface, covered and protected by a layer of bentonite clay. This layer of clay has shielded the salt from erosion and modern-day toxins/contamination.
So what about these 60-plus trace minerals?
Trace minerals are what makes Real Salt so incredible. When most people think of salt, they think of the white table salt we see all the time, but the white color is a result of chemical processing, heating, and bleaching that leaves the salt acidic and void of any nutrients. Real Salt appears pink because nothing has been taken out of it. Real Salt is approximately 98 percent sodium chloride and 2 percent trace minerals, and it’s these 60-plus trace minerals that make Real Salt extremely beneficial for health.
Check out the back of the label for the exact list of naturally occurring nutrients.
Is Real Salt the ONLY salt that is OK to consume?
No. There are a few others that would be tremendously better than regular white table salt: Himalayan Salt and Celtic Salt.
Himalayan salt, just like Real Salt, is mined from ancient sea beds that formed long before modern-day toxins could have gotten to them. Himalayan Sea Salt is known for its pink appearance, so, just like Real Salt, it contains the beneficial trace minerals. Taste wise, Himalayan Salt has an earthy flavor while Real Salt is a bit sweeter. The main difference between Himalayan and Real Salt is the mining location. Himalayan salt comes from about 17 different mines around the Pakistan area while Real Salt is exclusively mined from America in Redmond, Utah.
Celtic Salt has a grayish appearance and also has a nice nutrient composition. Celtic Salts are mined from a modern-day ocean. They do a nice job with harvesting and then not processing the salt; but modern-day oceans do have the possibilities of toxins being introduced to the salt beds. The most concerning ones being heavy metals like mercury and lead as well as the petroleum products and oil spills.
Real Salt is actually less expensive than both Himalayan and Celtic Salts and is my personal favorite.
Real Salt comes in different sizes:
- Super Fine: Powdery, like the consistency of flour. Super fine is used mainly on things you want to “dust” with salt, like popcorn. It can be used in soups well because it dissolves so quickly. It is also good for pickling and canning.
- Fine Salt: This is the most common size and is the crystal you think of when you think of table salt.
- Kosher Salt: All of the Real Salt is actually Kosher in the sense that it has been certified. The term Kosher here refers to the size of the crystal. It is a medium-sized grain that you would find comparable to salt on a pretzel or margarita glass. Reasons to use this would be for meat rubs because the larger crystal size will suck blood and juice out faster without making the meat overly salty.
- Corse Salt: This is the largest crystal size. It is mainly purchased to be put in a grinder. Grinding salt at your table doesn’t make it any fresher; it is just a personal preference.
For more information, contact Anthony Trovato, Dr. Louis Trovato, and Kelley Trovato today at Trovato Nutrition!
Real Salt Part 1
“Salt is not the enemy”
|Salt has gotten a really bad reputation over the years. Much like when butter was blamed for cholesterol issues and we were all told to switch to margarine instead. Doctors (government) now realize that switching to trans-fats was one of the most idiotic suggestions in history, but, for some reason, salt is still to be avoided. Salt (sodium) is typically blamed for high blood pressure, and anyone with elevated blood pressure is told to immediately avoid foods high in sodium.|
I believe blaming sodium for elevating blood pressure is a blanket overstatement that is just not true. I do agree that avoiding foods high in sodium is a good idea since these foods are typically processed, pre-packaged foods, like frozen meals, soups, etc. But salt, in its pure form, is not elevating our blood pressure. Salt is essential for life.
One of the first things to decline on a low-sodium diet is stomach acid. Salt is sodium chloride (NaCl). The chloride (Cl) is used to make hydrochloric acid (HCl) to digest the food in your stomach. Without a proper amount of stomach acid, we can no longer digest our food properly and will most likely develop symptoms like gas, bloating, weight gain, indigestion, and acid reflux (heart burn). Even more concerning, decreased ability to digest the food will ultimately lead to poor absorption of key nutrients.
The human body is made up of 72 percent of salt water and 28 percent minerals. We need salt and minerals to survive. When you are admitted to a hospital, many patients are hooked up to an IV drip of saline (salt water) to rehydrate and remineralize the body. A 2006 study published in The American Journal of Medicine said that, “Sodium intake of less than 2300 mg a day (the maximum recommended per day) was associated with a 37 percent increase in cardiovascular disease and a 28 percent increase of all-cause mortality.” In other words, restricting salt was doing more harm than good. But “salt is not the enemy” is a statement that needs further clarifications. The quality of your salt plays a huge role in whether the salt will be a nutrient or a toxin.
We cannot live without sodium or chloride. Sodium and chloride play vital roles in nerve conduction, muscle contraction (both skeletal and heart), digestion, and blood pressure.
Wait, blood pressure?
Yes, salt (sodium) does have an effect on blood pressure—just not to the vilifying degree our government would have us believe. The kidneys maintain sodium’s concentration in our blood. If we consume more salt, the kidneys will excrete it into the urine along with water to flush it out. If we consume less salt, the kidneys will hold onto water to maintain the concentration.
The answer is no.
Normal blood pressure is roughly 120/80. Low sodium diets typically result in a blood pressure reduction around 2-5 mmHG. So if you were 140/90, a low-sodium diet might get you to 135/85.
The body is very adaptive and when people go on low-sodium diets, the body will hold onto all the sodium it can to try and maintain a balance in the body.
So if salt is not responsible for high blood pressure, what is?
Everything requires balance.
So when we consume a lot of salt, the kidneys will excrete the excess along with some water, but, in attempts to maintain balance, water is held on to and our blood pressure goes up slightly. That is where the whole “salt causes water retention” thing comes from. The same is true on the flip side. Decrease salt intake and we would see a slight drop in blood pressure.
But is this drop in blood pressure going to be massive?
Sugar has a ton of harmful effects in the body, many of them indirectly leading to a rise in blood pressure: plaque buildup in arteries, tired or weakened arteries, calcified or stiff arteries, and a weakened pump (heart).
But processed, white sugar also has a direct effect on blood pressure. When sugar, or any processed, refined carbohydrate is consumed, our body produces insulin to deal with the blood sugar and leptin (the “full” hormone). Production of too much insulin and leptin in response to a high-carbohydrate, sugar, and processed food diet has been directly linked to increasing blood pressure.
Another issue is that insulin stores magnesium. If your cells become insulin resistant due to repeated sugar and carbohydrate intake, the insulin cannot bind to the receptors and the magnesium does not get into the cells and gets excreted from the body. If magnesium levels drop too low, the blood vessel cannot relax. Constricted blood vessels lead to a rise in blood pressure.
Another interesting correlation is sugar in the form of fructose, especially high fructose corn syrup that is in almost everything these days. Fructose also elevates uric acid within minutes of consuming it. Uric acid inhibits nitric oxide production (the molecule responsible for dilating blood vessels). Without blood vessel dilation, blood cannot flow as easily, and blood pressure rises. Consuming fructose in the form of organic fruits is typically OK if it is kept to only 1-2 servings a day.
So does this mean we can just go crazy with salt and add it to all our food again? Not exactly. The quality of the salt matters. Not all salt is created equal. Most Americans are used to the standard, processed, bleached, white table salt that has been stripped of all nutrients and packed with added anti-caking chemicals such as aluminum. Some common table salt brands actually have sugar in them. No wonder salt gets such a bad reputation.
Stay Tuned for Part II of the salt discussion as I go over some of the differences in salt and which kind we should be consuming.
This is a clever twist on regular omelets. Instead of throwing the ingredients into the pan with the eggs, I simply blended three eggs with 2 cups of spinach, 1/3 onion, and some garlic. Then I poured that into a pan with some coconut oil. You can get very clever with this technique. It is like creating a typical smoothie using eggs (and a little bit of almond milk if you want). Then throw whatever vegetable you want into the blender, blend, and pour the creamy liquid into the pan! The visual presentation is fabulous and something that is sure to impress! It also helps kids who might not like the texture of vegetables still get in all the nutrients they need!
Get creative. Throw even more veggies into the blender!
Season with Real Salt. Garnish with whatever you like (strawberries shown in picture).
True Protein Pancakes: Chocolate Peanut Butter
Let’s face it. Breakfast can be a hard meal to prepare with quality ingredients.
Eggs are the obvious healthy choice and will always be the gold standard of protein perfection, but we can’t possibly eat eggs every meal for the rest of our lives. Smoothies are another great option (more posts on them later). Everything else really is made of some form of grains or starchy carbohydrate: cereals, oatmeal, grits, pancakes, waffles, toast, muffins, bagels, and Pop-Tarts®. When you think about it, there aren’t really many healthy breakfast options.
Well, I have another great addition to your breakfast rotation!
Protein pancakes! And not the typical recipe you see all over the internet (most of them are still made predominately of some oats or flour – almond, coconut, etc.). These are true protein pancakes!
These pancakes made almost entirely of protein!
3 scoops of grass-fed protein powder (2 vanilla – 1 chocolate)
1 tablespoon ground organic chia seeds (could also use flax)
Heavy whipping cream (added to consistency)
2 free-range eggs
1 tablespoon of peanut butter or almond butter
1 scoop of PBfit (or a different dehydrated peanut butter product)
1-2 teaspoons (to taste) of Real Salt or Sea Salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 packet Stevia
Dark Cacao Nibs
Dash of cinnamon
The batter is sort of like making a simple protein shake but much, much thicker.
Start by getting a large mixing bowl and a whisk.
Add in the protein powder, the ground chia or flax seeds, the PBfit (dehydrated peanut butter), and the baking powder.
Next, crack two eggs and peel one of the bananas. Add to the same bowl and mash them into the powders with a fork or masher.
Next, add in vanilla extract and then begin to slowly add in the heavy whipping cream. Mix with the whisk the entire time and get the batter to a nice and thick consistency. It should stick to the whisk when lifted and then slowly drip back into the bowl.
When you have a nice paste going, add in the real peanut or almond butter, chop up the other banana into fairly small pieces and stir.
Finally, add in the dark cacao nibs, salt, stevia, and cinnamon.
Stir again and then ladle the batter onto a griddle preheated and coated with coconut oil.
You can also put the same batter in a waffle maker, but I will warn you: they don’t stick together well and it is a mess to clean up.
I find it easier to stay with pancakes.
Health Benefits of Water
Water… H2O… The elixir of life…
Water is one of the most important nutrients we need, second only to air. The human body is over 50 percent water (our muscles contain around 75 percent of water and our brains are composed of as much as 85 percent!), and water helps run everything from temperature regulation to digestion to enzyme reactions.
You can go weeks without food but only days without water!
Not many people have problems with consuming fluids, but, unfortunately, fluids like soda, juice, and sports drinks are extremely detrimental to our health, throwing off pH, increasing blood sugar, and producing inflammation.
We need to drink more water—it’s as simple as that. Fluids made almost entirely of water are OK as long as they are not consumed in excess. Coffee, tea, and even homemade iced tea and lemonade (as long as they are not made from a package and you do not add sugar) are OK. Try the sweetener herb “Stevia” for the best option (more on that in the sweeteners section). Another healthy fluid option is raw, grass-fed, birth-to-death, organic milk.
Flushing Toxins – Water helps flush our body of toxins. Most of the toxins are by-products of cellular reactions that happen all the time. However, our body is constantly under attack by other toxins as well. Environmental toxins are higher today than they have ever been! Without enough water, our kidneys do not function at peak performance, and their ability to remove toxins becomes compromised. On top of that compromise, the liver has to step in to help the kidney, putting some of its own responsibilities on hold, which compromises overall liver function. Staying hydrated will keep our detox organs working at full steam!
Weight Loss – If you currently drink fluids other than water – like soda, juice, or sports drinks – simply switching over to pure water will result in weight loss. If you are already drinking mostly water, keep it up! Water is a natural appetite suppressant. Most of the “hunger” feelings we get are actually signs of dehydration. Also, when liver function is compromised, like mentioned above, fat metabolism slows or gets put on hold completely! A final point to mention is water retention. People who tend to hold onto water (bloat) become afraid to drink more water, thinking that drinking will worsen their problem. Actually, the complete opposite is true! The body will hold onto water when it senses potential dehydration. Drinking enough water will signal the body that it is OK to let the water go. Drink up!
Overall Energy – Even slight dehydration can drain you of energy. If you are thirsty, you have already become dehydrated.
Improved Athletic Performance – It should go without saying that if you are working out (competitive sports in general, lifting weights, cardio, yoga – it does not matter), you should be drinking water. People will argue the need to engage in electrolyte therapy like Gatorade, but drinks like Gatorade are loaded with sugar (there are better ways to get electrolytes). If you insist on imbibing a sports drink during exercise, try pouring half into another bottle and filling both bottles to the top with clean water. Cutting the drink in half preserves your goal of replacing electrolytes, the drink still tastes good, and the division allows you to cut the sugar content in half, which can create two drinks from one! (This is a great tip for parents with two kids.)
Alleviates Headaches – Another clear sign of dehydration is headaches. Instead of reaching for another Motrin, try a large glass of water!
Improved Digestion – The GI tract requires adequate water to function properly. Dehydration can result in constipation. Don’t worry about changing constipation to diarrhea by drinking too much; the body has mechanisms in place to reabsorb the water it needs into the large intestines. Drinking pure, clear water can also help pH balance.
Skin Health – Drinking water will not work overnight or like a special cream, but, if you stay consistent with drinking enough water, skin complexion, elasticity, and acne can all improve drastically.
Reduced Risk of Disease – Studies have shown that drinking the recommended amount of water per day can lower the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, high blood pressure, cancer, and more.
So what is the recommended amount of water to drink?
You have probably heard the old adage, “Drink eight 8oz glasses of water a day.” That would equal 64oz of water a day.
Another widely accepted rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces per day.
Following this rule, if you weighed 130lbs, the above recommendation of eight glasses a day would be fine. But if you weighed 180lbs, then you would need 90oz. If you weighed 220lbs, then you should try to take in 110oz. That is almost 14 8oz glasses of water!
Some people will say that half your body weight in ounces is a little overkill because we get some water from our food and other drinks like coffee, and they are right. Water requirements will also fluctuate with the amount of exercise one does.
So which rule should you follow?
The overall point is we need to drink more water!
*Please note it is possible to drink too much water, putting your body at risk for vitamin and mineral deficiency by flushing too much out of your body. This risk only occurs at extremes (drinking several gallons of water), with the inability to excrete it from your system.
A quick note on Electrolytes
Hydration with water is important, but other things play a role in how well the body utilizes that hydration (Electrolytes, for example).
Gatorade and other sports drinks immediately come to mind, but they are not what we are shooting for. They are loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients. We will cover more in a different post, but generally, multivitamins, liquid minerals, and whole food sources are all we need!
Genetically Modified Foods
Written as a school paper by Joseph Trovato
What are GMO or GE foods?
- GMO stands for “Genetically Modified Organism”
- GE stands for “Genetic Engineering” or “Genetically Engineered”
Genetic Engineering is the replacement or alteration of genes in an organism in order to produce new proteins that change its traits. (Parmalee 19)
Are GMO’s Safe?
In 1992, under pressure from President Bush’s administration, against the advice of FDA scientists, and with no long-term studies on safety, the FDA declared that GM foods are equivalent to regular foods and do not need to be labeled. (Batalion)
Biotech scientists claim GMOs are safe. Clive James, Director of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications says, [quote] “There’s a hundred million people in the U.S. and Canada who have been eating (genetically modified foods) for 10 years with not even a hint of a problem.” (Parmalee 30)
Proponents claim genetic engineering can help farmers feed the world. They say GE foods will help the farmer by increasing crop yield, improving stress, drought, and cold weather tolerance, increasing disease resistance and reducing maturation time so they can get food to the market sooner. (Katch) Genetic engineering might even be able to make tropical fruits grow in cold areas of the U.S. so farmers can sell at lower prices. (Parmalee 44-45)
Genetic engineering proponents also claim that GE helps the environment. GMO crops are resistant to pests and one source claims that 380 million pounds of pesticides are not used because of this resistance. GE’s are resistant to herbicides as well. (Parmalee 8, 52)
Avoid Consumption of GMO’s
ANTI-GE scientists believe that biotech claims are distorted or simply not realizable. More than 800 scientists from 84 countries have signed an open letter to the United Nations urging all countries to ban GE food. (Batalion) These scientists believe that GE foods are not safe. Animal studies show GE foods result in infertility, compromised immune system, increased asthma, allergy and inflammation, more rapid aging, malfunctioning of genes that control important body processes, dangerous changes in organs like the liver, kidney, spleen, pancreas, and accumulation of free radicals. (Dean and Armstrong)
GE food consumption can also result in antibiotic resistance. (McKee)
Animal studies also show GE foods result in arthritis and blood disease and increase in iGF-1 which is linked to cancer, mutated gut bacteria, and death.
As to the claim that GE helps farmers, evidence indicates that biotech corporations are NOT the farmers’ friends. Biotech corporations are winning patents on seeds and controlling the market. (Batalion)
Regarding the claim of increased production, no field trial has ever shown significant overall yield in food crops except Bt corn. (“Genetically Modified Foods Position Paper”)
Pesticide resistance is not turning out to be as beneficial as expected either. It is turning some crop pests into pesticide-resistant Superpests. These Superpests can wipe out entire useful species and more and stronger pesticides are required to control them. (Parmalee 9/Batalion) Also, herbicide tolerance of GM foods is not decreasing herbicide use. On the contrary, it lets farmers use more and spray directly on crops. (McKee)
Herbicide use in the U.S. is expected to triple because of GE herbicide-resistant Superweed plants. (Batalion)
Finally, non-biotech scientists do not believe GE promises a solution to world hunger. David Kennel, professor Department of Molecular Microbiology, Washington School of Medicine, says, “[Genetically modified] crops have nothing to do with solving hunger; in fact, there is a good chance [genetically modified] agriculture will lead to catastrophic famine in the world by greatly decreasing the gene pool of plants.” (Roleff 31)
Such a reduced gene pool can lead to a situation in which a single disease wipes out an entire species. (Parmalee 40)
Another environmental risk is cross pollination by insects and wind that contaminates natural species of plants and makes organic farms impossible to protect. (Parmalee 42, 49/ “Green America”) GMO’s could sterilize soil by killing vital nutrients and the fungi that capture nitrogen.
Hunter Lovins, Cofounder of the Rocky Mountain Institute, says, “There is the very real possibility that this technology… could create mistakes that are… irretrievable. Some could be disastrous.” (Tagliaferro 29)
In conclusion, GE foods are high risk, and people across the world are refusing to eat them. Australia, Japan, and all the countries in the European Union have banned GMOs, and another 50 countries have placed restrictions. (Katch) In the U.S., organic food sales rose from $1 billion in 1990 to $26.7 billion in 2010. (“General Logon Page”)
There is a push to mandate labeling in more than 20 states. The biotech industry, however, says mandatory labeling will confuse consumers and make them not buy GE foods. (Gilliam) The biotech industry is pushing to outlaw all labeling of GMO’s.
How to avoid eating GE foods. (McKee/“Green America”)
Look for Non-GMO labels
Avoid processed foods
In particular, avoid:
Non-organic sugar beets
All corn and corn products
Non-organic zucchini and yellow squash
GE-fed animal products like meat, eggs, and dairy
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