Long Overdue 15 April 2014–for Tonya and Katie….two lovely thinkers
(Base root of Sal*utations = sal = salt, life)
Salt. If it came down to either salt or sugar, I would choose salt 100% of the time. I love salt. If it were socially acceptable, I would carry around a salt lick. I hate to admit it because these days salt is a 4-letter word in our social ‘dangerous-bad for you food’ category.
I often wonder why salt & I are in love, and our relationship sometimes makes perfect sense. FYI, I do not eat a lot of salt, I am a low salt person, yet, I love salt, I am very aware of my love for salt and keep myself in check. 🙂
Are you ready for my MANICAL rant? (and mind you, I consider my need for salt a huge co-conspirator to the way my mind perseverates with over enthusiastic thoughts).
Here it comes:
1. Salt is the original building block of life. When the mountains were pushed up, the salt molecules were pushed into the water systems that is the ocean.
Salt = building blocks of the life in the sea. Without salt, the microbes and beasties would not have evolved or eventually walked up on land.
2. Salinity of water = eggs. The sea has a salinity of about 3.5% and humans about 0.9%–with the exception of the water in homo sapiens in utero–then that saline womb ocean egg raises to 3.5%. Cool hun? Women carry around the ocean! But WHY?
–> Evolution: Earliest forms of life “microbes” lived in the salty sea…then they evolved into swimmers–>tadpoles–>amphibians that moved from the salty ocean to the non-salty land. Hun? How’d they do that? They took the ocean with them! They put the ocean in their eggs. These cool new land beasts laid HARD SHELLED eggs. The saline concentration of eggs? 3.5%. (Go ahead, look up all my numbers. I did my research and have for years. Yet because this is a blog post, everything I write could actually be a lie). Evolution has transported the ocean with the new land beasties for procreation.
3. Salt is in essential in the wiring of our brains. Our brain fires with neurotransmitters (chemical charges) with many needing the single mineral chargers: Na+ & Cl- (together human intakes these minerals as salt–see how cool the salt puzzle is?)
4. There are 5-neurotransmitter types in the family, the most interesting to me is the “Monoamine Transporter” (MATs) group. The MATs group activates the dopamine transporter (DAT 6), which is a protein that pumps dopamine out of our synapses. Dopamine chemicals play into our reward system, and is also linked to ADDICTION. Furthermore, norepinephrine (NET) & serotonin (SERT) transmitters are part of the MATs group. Can you make these connections? (If your brain is sufficiently lubed with Na+ / Cl- you may be experiencing some dopamine reward -ding-ding-dings right about now). In short, the MATs group of the 5 categories of neurotransmitters has some very interesting implications.
Okay…let’s go deep with the MATs group and talk about addiction. Let’s say a brain that is not efficiently doing its job of re-uptaking their associated amine chemical neurotransmitters, and the body is left with an abundance of (serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine) the feel good chemicals…that wouldn’t be such a bad thing would it? Who doesn’t want to feel good all the time? If you are a nicotine junkie, or using heroin or cocaine, the dopamine system is flooded and inhibiting re-uptake of dopamine and that is what in modern layman term is called an “Addiction”. A chemical (nicotine, cocaine etc..) is the surrogate for the natural dopamine chemical workload. New ‘receptors’ are created (and grow) in order to house the extra chemicals and voila! You have an addiction. (Picture a ladder that continuously grows–the user will need more and more junk to get high). Now, we are talking about an addiction from the neural lens, not the ‘behavioral’ lens–that is a whole different blogpost.
The MATs groups has an interesting categorical group of disorders, which have serious implications stemming from perhaps…yes, too much or too little salt and the brain. Here is a list of some disorders regarding failures of the MATs neurotransmitter group. Needless to say, chemical drug therapy is VERY effective in treating these disorders, especially combined with cognitive behavioral therapy.
- ADHD (not ADD) Attention deficit HYPERACTIVITY disorder
- Cocaine, other opiates or alkaloid addictions… and what I would consider, yet the science is not there yet: Smoking.
Now…how many smokers to you know that are not only hyperactive, yet also highly stimulated with major ups and downs? Are they skinny? It is my experience that people who are nicotine addicted have expressed needs to ‘feed’ the brain with stimulants, AND THEY LOVE SALT (unless you are envisioning a large obese humanoid who does little exercise of mind or body and just smokes and sits on the couch eating chips–well, did you know salt is also connected to depression? Depressed people can be avid eaters and hoard salty snacks like chips. Offer a coke-head cake or chips? Coke-heads when they do eat, usually choose salty foods. Fat smokers addicted to salt is another blogpost in which I do not want to cover here.)
A body that moves A LOT needs A LOT of Na+ Cl- to keep the synapses firing…A brain that does a lot of thinking and connecting uses a lot of Na+ & Cl- (think about school and learning–are you more hungry during focused learning sessions? Have the munchies for something salty?) What about a brain that is schizophrenic? Those brains makes WAY more connections and burn heaps of calories spinning their mind-wheels. Personally, I do not know any schitzos, yet if I did, I would ask them what they like to eat.
As I tend to be more on the mover/shaker/neurotic & vain type of personality, I like to learn about myself and I have spent a LONG time thinking about why my body likes so much salt. Just for the record: My blood pressure is normal, and I display a lower than average resting heart rate. Wonder if my low heart rate has anything to do with my craving for salt? Hmm…
ps. i altered the photo above. I don’t know who took the original or i would give props yo!
pss. here are some links about salt. here and here and thank you Big History* for your program on SALT 🙂