Tag Archives: WHEAT


Is salt good for me?

We’ve been told for decades that we should reduce our salt intake, but what if salt is actually good for you?


Salt (or sodium chloride, as it’s scientifically called) is made up of about 40% sodium and 60% chloride. The words ‘salt’ and ‘sodium’ are often used interchangeably, as salt is the highest dietary source of sodium, however, sodium is also found naturally in foods, such as seafood, spinach, celery and beetroot.


Sodium is an essential nutrient that is required for the normal functioning of our body:

  • Our bodies use salt to balance the amount of fluid in our tissues and blood.
  • Salt facilitates nerve and muscle function and helps to maintain healthy blood pressure.
  • The chloride in salt is used to produce hydrochloric acid, which helps to break down food in our stomach and helps absorb nutrients.
  • Adequate amounts of salt are necessary for thyroid and adrenal function.
  • Salt also plays an important role in food preservation.


In fact, it’s impossible to live a life without any salt – it’s essential to life!


Our bodies constantly lose salt through bodily functions, like sweating, so it must be replaced. But it’s all about balance – consuming too much sodium (particularly refined salt) may lead to oedema (swelling), increased blood pressure, and other conditions.


And salt isn’t just salt – your standard white table salt is considerably different from the salts you find in nature.


Table salt is a refined form of natural salt that has been processed; heated to extreme temperatures which change its structure and destroys many beneficial compounds; bleached white; treated with chemicals to remove all trace minerals. The problem is that these trace minerals are essential for our body and our health.


Unfortunately, it’s this refined salt that is used in most packaged and processed foods, like breads, processed meats, soups and sauces, and salty snacks.


Refined table salt is not a health ‘food’ and should be limited in your diet.


So, what’s the healthiest salt?

Choose an unrefined salt that is found in nature. Unrefined natural salts contain sodium and chloride as well as other essential minerals that act as important electrolytes in the body.


Pink Himalayan salt comes from ancient seabeds in the Himalayan mountains. Himalayan salt is rich in minerals, in fact, it contains all 84 essential trace elements required by your body. Its pink colour comes from the rich iron content.


Celtic Sea salt is an unprocessed, natural salt from the coastal regions in France near the Celtic Sea. Unlike regular, refined table salt, Celtic Sea salt retains the beneficial trace minerals and nutrients, like potassium and magnesium, needed by the human body.


Murray River salt flakes are produced from using the mineralised brines from the ancient saline aquifers of the Murray Darling Basin. The brine is pumped into shallow lake beds and dried out in the sun, leaving layers of salt to be harvested. As well as sodium, Murray River salt contains other important minerals (magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium and iodine).


Similarly, unrefined sea salt is produced by pumping seawater into ponds and allowing the water to evaporate leaving salt to crystallize on the floor of the pond. It is then scooped up, washed in seawater, dried and packaged.


Australian Pink Lake salt comes from a lake in Western Victoria. The lake is fed by natural salt aquifers and dries out each summer to reveal a bed of salmon coloured pink salt. This natural salt is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulphur, iron, manganese, zinc and copper.


How much salt should you have?

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommends a suggested dietary target of 2,000mg of sodium (which is equivalent to about 5 grams or 1 teaspoon of salt) for adults daily. But it’s easy to get much more than this when you are eating a lot of processed and packaged foods.


About 75% of the salt we eat comes from processed foods, rather than from salt added to cooking and foods.


On the other hand, eating a mostly real, whole food diet – consisting of lots of fresh vegetables and fruit, quality protein, healthy fats, whole grains, legumes, raw nuts and seeds, and water – will naturally help to keep your daily salt intake within a healthy range.


Listen to your body… When you are eating a mostly real food diet you can let your taste buds guide your salt intake. Salt your food as you cook, keep the sea salt grinder on the table and enjoy fermented foods (such as pickles and sauerkraut).


The take-home message… Salt is an essential nutrient. Avoid refined salt, limit your intake processed/packaged foods (which contain high levels of refined salt), and use an unrefined, natural salt to taste.


And remember that you may need more salt on days when you are sweating a lot and/or drinking lots of water.

Written by Nicole Bence. You can book with Nicole here.

*Note: If you have hypertension or kidney disease, please consult your health care practitioner before you make any changes to your consumption of salt.


Coeliac, gluten and autoimmunity

If you’ve been following me even for a short while, you should know I am not a ‘gluten is evil’ kind of nutritionist. However, early diagnosis of coeliac disease and recognising when someone may have a genuine issue with gluten is important for avoiding serious, long-term health consequences.

Here are 10 important considerations concerning coeliac and gluten generally:

  1.  If you have a first degree relative with coeliac, you have a much higher chance of having the condition yourself. You should always mention family history to your GP or any health professional, as it may help their ‘differential diagnosis’ (see note below). We always take a comprehensive family history during our initial fact-finding appointment.
  2. Coeliac disease seriously compromises your absorption of nutrients. Usually, one of the first issues to show up in pathology results is iron deficiency. Ongoing iron deficiency, despite supplementation and a balanced diet, in combination with other signs and symptoms may indicate the need for coeliac testing. A nutritionist can test for coeliac disease.
  3. Coeliac disease is not the same as being gluten intolerant. Please do not self diagnose yourself as coeliac, but not bother getting tested. You do need to know. And, if you are coeliac, you need to share this information with blood relatives because it’s important to know you have a genetic predisposition to certain conditions. See point 1 again.
  4. Coeliac is an autoimmune condition. Knowing you have an autoimmune condition, I believe, is important. Not only do you need to avoid gluten forever, but you do also really need to look after yourself. Look at your lifestyle, try to minimise stress and eat well to avoid ongoing nutrient deficiencies, as these are physically taxing to the body. Why? Because having one autoimmune condition increases your chance of others developing. It’s not a life sentence – but an awareness of your overall, holistic health is critical. In an ideal world, we should all think like this, but it’s even more important for those with coeliac and/or other autoimmune conditions.
  5. Newly diagnosed coeliacs benefit from nutritional counselling. There are many traps for new coeliacs – many foods contain trace amounts of gluten and cross-contamination can also be an issue. Being a coeliac = absolutely. No. Gluten. Ever. The end. (I’m sorry, ut you will thank me in the long run.)
  6. Gut work and supplements are often important initially in coeliacs, to correct deficiencies and assist with the healing of the ‘villi’. Villi are the finger-like projections of the small intestine that are responsible for the absorption of nutrients and are severely damaged in newly diagnosed coeliacs.
  7. If a coeliac is left undiagnosed for a long time, there can be all kinds of consequences… poor bone density, absence of periods, exhaustion and depression, infertility, dental issues. If you have any of these issues, it’s time to speak to a health professional even if it’s not related to gluten.
  8. Being gluten free has become somewhat trendy these days. Coeliac isn’t trendy. It is serious. In all honesty, I don’t really think that many people have serious issues with gluten – more have serious issues with wheat than gluten (which are different things – see point 9). However, coeliac disease is a serious issue. And it’s also seriously missed. Too often.
  9. Wheat and gluten are not the same. Gluten is in wheat, but gluten is also in other grains, including rye, oats and barley. Some people may be fine with rye, oats and barley, but not wheat. Others may be fine with all types. Please don’t judge your tolerance for gluten on how you felt after eating a Big Mac or even a cheap, white loaf of bread from the supermarket.
  10. I do believe that gluten intolerance is a thing. Research suggests that people who carry a gene for coeliac may be more sensitive to gluten without actually being coeliac. Some cases of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) do improve dramatically with gluten elimination. However, we are not all gluten intolerance. And you do not have to avoid gluten in order to be healthy.

*Differential Diagnosis: If someone presents with fatigue for example in the clinic, there’s a gazillion reasons why they might be feeling exhausted. They could have a virus, they could have blood sugar imbalances, maybe their thyroid is out, or perhaps it’s as simple as them not sleeping. The more facts we have about a person’s health history and the more details they can provide about their symptoms, their diet and their lifestyle, the more certain we can be about what is going on that might be making them feel so rotten. This is the process of differential diagnosis – taking someone with symptoms and narrowing it down to what is most likely may be caused by.

If you suspect you have an issue with gluten, or perhaps you are an overwhelmed, newly diagnosed coeliac wanting some guidance, please book an appointment to see us.