Like the low-fat diet trend of the past 2 decades, salt has been demonized when it comes to our health. Salt has been blamed for health issues like high blood pressure, and some women restrict it to prevent swelling during pregnancy.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s research to show sodium is linked to high blood pressure and encourages fluid retention (aka swelling).
But what most people don’t realize is that…
sodium and salt are not the same thing.
Sodium refers to white table salt. The salt you find in restaurant shakers, in processed snacks, and in fast-food meals. Sodium is added to food because it makes food taste better.
Table Salt vs Real Salt
White table salt has been stripped of minerals so only sodium and chloride remains. It can offset blood pressure and make you retain fluid (aka bloating or swelling).
On the contrary, real salt like sea salt and Himalayan pink salt contain the minerals your body needs to function at its best. These salts have been minimally processed so they contain the perfect balance of minerals like magnesium, iodine, and potassium for healthy brain, nerve, and hormone function.
These minerals also help regulate blood pressure.
And contrary to what people think, salt helps reduce bloating and swelling. Minerals in sea salt or Himalayan pink salt help balance your body’s fluid levels. This can prevent your body from retaining water so you’re less likely to bloat. Or less likely to experience swelling during pregnancy.
Personally, I didn’t experience any swelling during my pregnancies even though I was guzzling water like crazy (I was 9 months pregnant in the sweltering heat over summer). I attribute this to a (mostly) real food diet and eating the right type of salt.
I liberally apply sea salt to my cooking. And I use Himalayan pink salt on almost everything I eat. Check out my IGTV avocado toast video and see for yourself! ?
Salt during pregnancy
Pregnancy is no exception to when your body needs salt. In fact, pregnancy is a time you need more salt (the right type of salt) because you need more trace minerals for your baby’s development. And for your body’s health too.
Here’s 4 ways salt helps you during pregnancy:
Salt helps prevent muscle cramps
One of the key minerals in salt is magnesium which helps nerve transmission. Magnesium deficiency can lead to muscle cramps and Charlie horses.
Salt restores electrolytes
This is even more important if you’re vomiting due to morning sickness. It’s also important if you’re sweating and working out.
Salt supports a healthy pregnancy
One of the key minerals in salt is iodine. Iodine is needed for healthy thyroid function, especially in the first trimester. Your thyroid helps regulate the hormones you need throughout pregnancy, so it’s important to be getting enough iodine if you’re trying to conceive or pregnant.
Salt can prevent swelling
Salt helps regulate your body’s fluid levels. With the correct mineral balance in your blood, your body won’t retain fluid.
Note: some degree of swelling is common during pregnancy but if you experience sudden swelling, or if you’re worried at any time, contact your doctor.
What to do?
Invest in real salt. I personally love to sprinkle Maldon sea salt on my lunch or breakfast. I use Himalayan pink salt in my salt grinder for salads and eggs.
This one packet of Himalayan pink salt (that I bought on Amazon for $17) has lasted for over a year!
Sea salt comes from evaporated sea water. It is minimally processed so it’s rich in minerals. It varies in color from white to gray in the case for Celtic sea salt.
Himalayan pink salt
Naturally pink in color, Himalayan salt comes has a high mineral content and a milder taste.
White table salt
Table salt has been mined from underground salt deposits. It has been bleached and heated so important minerals have been removed. It contains calcium silicate to prevent it from clumping.
Iodized salt is regular table salt that has been bleached and stripped of minerals including iodine. That’s why iodine has been added back into it. Iodine deficiency has been linked to many health problems, including thyroid dysfunction and miscarriage. That’s why it’s important to be getting enough iodine if you are trying to conceive or are pregnant.
Food manufacturers add sodium to food as a preservative and a flavor enhancer. You only have to walk down the frozen food aisle or look at the back of packaged snacks to see that sodium has been added. Chips, canned food, pretzels, baked goods, lunch meats, and sauces are among the many foods with added sodium.
Just like sugar, food manufacturers use many names for sodium.
Watch out for
- sodium acetate
- sodium benzoate
- sodium dictate
- sodium nitrite
- sodium sulfite
They all mean the same thing… sodium!