I thought nothing of adding healthy sea salt to my homemade bone broths. But then I read this article by Chris Kresser in which he says paleo diets were very low in sodium.
As we can see, there is an enormous range in the daily dietary sodium intake of various cultures around the world, ranging from quite low (1150 mg) to fairly high (5175 mg). Additionally, we know that the healthy kidney is capable of adjusting to fluctuating levels of sodium in the diet in order to maintain fluid homeostasis. Finally, we know that hunter-gatherer and Paleolithic diets were very low in sodium, and that salt was rarely, if ever, added to food. Therefore, it would seem that limiting salt in the diet to those levels recommended by the AHA and USDA would not have any significant consequences, and would be an ideal dietary choice when mimicking the diet of our ancestors. However, evidence is mounting to the contrary: a low-salt diet may actually lead to serious health consequences and higher overall mortality, particularly in conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
What's a salt loving paleo guy to do? Is it generally agreed upon that primitive people didn't consume much salt? If so, thoughts on what that means to humans today?
My strategy? When I'm tired, I sleep. When I'm thirsty, I drink. When I crave salt, I add salt to my food. When I crave sweet, I eat something sweet. For a while, I thought I was smarter than my body and didn't do the last two things. I paid for that decision with my health.
The way I see it, I'm not sure what Grok did and I don't think it's always the right question to ask. One thing he didn't do is change his oil but I'll keep doing that too ;)
Unless you are salt-sensitive (and you could know you are if your blood pressure increases when you increase your salt intake), I wouldn't worry about adding salt to your food. I actually believe that people on a lower-carb version of the Paleo diet and people with adrenal fatigue can BENEFIT from adding salt to their food. Use UNREFINED mineral-rich salt.
I had to add salt back in. At this point I even add a pinch when I brew coffee. My blood pressure tends to be low. When you go paleo, your salt intake drops dramatically just by virtue of avoiding processed foods. It is a good idea to salt to taste under these conditions. Some athletes even have to supplement with it. I believe I have heard this a few times from others as well- low blood pressure and related side effects. I think some of the original research may have underestimated what our ancestors did when they actually found salt in their environments. Deer seem to go pretty crazy on it; why wouldn't our ancestors do so as well, and start carrying it around at the first available opportunity?
I can tweak my blood pressure just through the change of salt in my diet. Not enough salt- hands/feet fall asleep easily, hands/feet feel cold, feel light-headed when I stand up, trembling hands, feel exhausted by 4 in the after noon. However, when I was still eating a modest amount of processed foods, eating out more etc I had unusually high blood pressure for my age (I tend to go to either extreme because of a heart condition). I think there is a healthy balance- not enough is bad, and too much is bad.
I would highly doubt that the "perfect amount" is the same for everyone. Just like some people have high blood pressure in the family, others have low blood pressure (I have one friend with freezing hands and feet- and every family reunion there's at least one fainter). Because there is probably individual variability, I wouldn't be sure how to go about finding out what an ideal amount is besides just saying that "some" would be good.
I freaking LOVE salt. Not that I'll dump it all over my (already) salted food (I like to taste my food, but not have it taste like a salt-lick), but I much prefer salty over sweet. I've also learned how to balance it in my diet. When I'm feeling bloated, I'll reduce salt and increase magnesium. When I'm drinking water all day and still feeling thirsty, I'll up my salt so that I retain some of that hydrating goodness.
There's a real danger in becoming sodium-deficient when switching to a whole-food diet. Low sodium is recommended by and large because ALL restaurant food and processed food is outrageously and unnecessarily high in sodium. Meeting the minimum sodium requirements, when taking processed food out of the picture, is actually quite difficult to do.
I've always thought that optimal salt intake is one of the things that can vary greatly from person to person. It's a bit of cognitive dissonance for me; I've seen some paleo people recommend a potassium:sodium ratio upwards of 16:1, yet through experimentation I find I feel best at a ratio as low as 2:1. I tend to have low-ish blood pressure though. I usually go by taste. If I'm feeling salty, I'll have some salt.
Here's a wacky idea (that is probably completely bogus): if magnesium and other minerals are much lower in our water supply today than they used to be, maybe sodium is too? Maybe water was a bit more salty way back when? Cure my paleo salty cognitive dissonance!
I think if you're eating home-cooked food and no packaged stuff salt is likely not an issue. A word of caution if you DON'T salt: My mother-in-law has had BP problems for years (crappy diet of mostly Lean Cuisines and high stress) and was on meds. Cut all added salt and started cooking, which helped some. But then she started exercising and got rid of the meds, and getting nutrition advice to eat more whole foods. One day a couple of weeks into her gym class she had a BP drop so far that she had to be picked up by an ambulance and held at the hospital. She then started eating some salt again in food she cooked at home, and the problem ceased.
If you're eating whole foods and cooking them yourself, I doubt you'll end up with far too much salt. I have recipes that call for a teaspoon of salt for something that serves 6-8. 1 "serving" of salt is something like 1/4 tsp, and that's well under RDA for the day.
I think there's some truth to minimizing salt intake. Cordain claims it contributes to Osteoporosis but I don't recall the reason why. Otherwise, sodium can be found in a variety of foods and numbers I've read are much much lower than 1500mg for healthy living. It seems to be well tolerated but like sugar the processed food industry tests those limits. I'm not surprised that there's lots of studies showing that it doesn't cause this or that but it's hard to prove that it doesn't cause anything. For a counter example, consider sleep apnea, which is suspected to be mediated in some cases by a high salt diet. I say treat it like sugar - a sprinkle here and there isn't going to be a big deal but conservatism is warranted.
I wouldn't add a lot of salt to your broth, but frankly, eating clean paleo foods cuts a LOT of sodium out of your diet. I eat a restricted sodium diet due to a health condition, and I sometimes STILL need to salt my food to get UP to 1200mg. Unless you're eating good sized servings of bacon, luncheon meat or cheese on a regular basis (not the best paleo foods anyway), and particularly if you're active, you're probably absolutely fine adding salt to your bone broths.