Well we all know the answer to that one dont we boys and girls?
Its an essential chemical compound (Sodium Chloride that is) needed for sustainable life and without your mums cooking wouldnt taste so good right? Most people think of Salt purely in terms of that little white food seasoning found in shakers on virtually very food table the world over.
Well in reality, salt is a little bit more complicated than just this but certainly does play an important role in our day to day lives.
Salt has been an important commodity over the past few millennia. Wars have been fought over Salt supplies and certainly the capture of a nations Salt supplies has certainly played an important part in the nature of military campaigns.
Salt has inspired literature and many of todays more semi philosophical sayings (To be taken with a pinch of salt, Salt of the Earth etc) come from a fascination with Salt.
The oldest record of Salt being used in any form of culinary utilisation or pharmacological manner comes from a Chinese Publication, the Peng-Tzao-Kan-Mu published roughly some 4700 years ago which documents the utilisation of more than 40 types of salt and this publication surprisingly describes two methods of extracting salt and manufacturing it into usable form that are not dissimilar to the processes we use today.
The adult male actually requires a mere 250 mg of sodium per day but the average Western Male actually consumes nearer 3,300 mg a day so it comes as no surprise that Salt as a single substance is not only vitally important to our well being but also as one single substance probably causes us more harm than any other single substance (along with sugar).
Given our addiction to the over consumption of Salt, it comes as no surprise that a great many of the Worlds Health Organisations actually recommend that people try and limit their intake to below 2.400 mg. This is still more than 7 times the amount actually required and goes some way to emphasise our dependency on this white granular substance.
So if this substance tastes so good how can it actually be so bad for us? Well a simplistic response would be that basically too much salt contributes to a hardening of the arteries and also leads to excessive clotting of the blood, too much salt causes the stomach to make too much hydrochloric acid
leading to an erosion of the stomach lining leading to Stomach ulcers etc. The link between excessive salt intake and High Blood Pressure is about as solid as you are likely to get.
That having said, as has been mentioned earlier without it we could not function at all. In our Blood System, Sodium helps to maintain the bodies PH balance and the transmission of nerve impulses in our nerve system depends partly on Sodium. With regards to our metabolism, Sodium helps assist the cells in our intestines in absorbing food and lastly, with sodium, the muscles in your body would not be able to contract and therefore we would not be able to move.
So there you have it, an essential substance for the furthering of life as we know it but too much of it and it will kill you!
A perfect example if ever one was needed of all good things in moderation perhaps?