The Ecology of Humans (57-1) Salt


Salt – the sovereign of spices – has more history than any other spice. Every society has salt in its cultural veins. All the great centers of civilization in the Americas were founded in places with access to salt.

Salt long had political strategic importance. It factored in alliances and conquests. Once the high seas became navigable in the 15th century, salt had no substitute to preserve food for long-distance voyages.

Many a city got its start with salt. Buffalo carved a wide road to a salt lick near Lake Erie. The town that started there: Buffalo, New York.

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The odium of sodium is its health effects when over-consumed. The appealing taste of salt means that it is featured in almost all processed foods.

The cardiovascular system suffers from too much salt in the diet. High salt intake is also associated with strokes.

For all that, how the body handles salt has been misunderstood for a long time. Contrary to conventional wisdom, eating salt does not dehydrate you.

Salt-detecting neurons in the mouth stimulate an urge to drink, but that has nothing to do with the body’s actual need for water. Salt stimulates glucocorticoid hormones which break down body fat and muscle tissue, freeing up water for the body to use.

This is how camels can travel through the desert without drinking. A camel supplies itself with water by breaking down the fat in its hump.

Eating more salt to lose weight is bad idea. Salt makes you hungry.

We really do not understand the effect of sodium chloride on the body. ~ American physician Melanie Hoenig