Nourishing Traditions Book Review: Part V – Salt Spices & Additives, Beverages, Food Allergies & Special Diets

Our next instillation of Nourishing Traditions is hot off the press!  Enjoy!

Salt Spices & Additives:

Sally Fallon states that salt is one of the most controversial topics in the medical world.  How much do we need?  What is the best kind?  What health problems does it cause?  And on and on.  Traditional medicine constantly preaches that if the salt intake is too high it will cause high blood pressure, however there is very little scientific proof to support this.  Salt is very important and necessary for the proper functioning of the nervous system and digestion of carbohydrates, BUT excessive salt will actually deplete potassium and calcium causing a whole other host of problems.  A salt free diet can help cure acne, but it is also needed to activate enzymes in the intestine which are important for proper and effective digestion.

Common salt is highly refined similar to sugar, flour and vegetable oils.  Magnesium and trace minerals are removed and aluminum is added to help keep it dry.  Then potassium iodine is added since the natural iodine is removed in the processing.  Also dextrose is added to stabilize it which alters the color to purple, so it needs to then be bleached back to the white color we all know.  Do we really want to eat that?

Traditionally salt was sun dried which still had very small and minute sea life still in it which added an organic form of iodine.  Iodine is super important because too much or too little reeks havoc on the thyroid and can cause substantial problems.  The resulting color of sun dried sea salt is a light grey and is high in moisture and trace minerals.  The best quality and nutrient dense natural sea salt is from Brittany or red sea salt from Hawaii.

Now on to spices… in general the hotter they are the more magnesium they contain.  It is best to use fresh herbs and spices if at all possible because of the additives in the processed versions.  Also, the majority of spices are irradiated, so be sure to purchase those that are not.  There are a lot of sources for purchasing these types of products listed in the book.

MSG, as most are now VERY aware, tastes great, but is terrible for the body.  Most of us know we should stay away from it, but do we have any idea what it can do to us.  It is a neurotoxic substance that can cause dizziness, diarrhea, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, all of which are neurological disorders.

Another scary fact is that many times MSG isn’t labeled on the package or it is listed by another name.  Those other names are listed in the book, but too many to name here.

Most additives are harmless… in healthy people.  If you have an over taxed digestive system, then the effects could be devastating.  Best just to stay away from them and eat unprocessed foods.

Frozen, pickled, fermented, cultured and sun dried are other options to add variety and change in flavor as well as amazing health benefits.  Also Fallon advises staying away from foods that have been subjected to high temperatures in the form of pasteurization, high temp drying, high temp and pressure processing of grains, and high temp and solvent extracted oils.

I know I mentioned irradiation a few paragraphs ago and Fallon talks a little bit more about it.  The food is not treated by high temperatures, but it still chemically alters the food.  It causes blood abnormalities in kids and seeds treated with irradiation will no longer sprout.

Fallon also recommends limiting the amount of canning because it destroys enzymes and vitamins, although tomatoes are fine to can and hold up well to the heat.  Actually tomatoes are better for you after being canned.  She again stresses the importance of trying to eat as organic as possible, but especially onions and potatoes because the specific types of chemicals they are treated with. Also try to avoid soft flesh fruit shipped from a distance because these have most likely been sprayed with chemicals to help preserve them in transit.


The beverages of the normal American today consists of A LOT of sugar.  We now consume double the amount of sodas that we did in the 70s.  Currently Americans ingest 43 gallons of soda per person per year.  And this accounts for about 35% of US sugar consumption.

High fructose corn syrup is bad, we know, but soda is actually even worse.  The additional ingredients add up to a very unhealthful cocktail.  Some of the ingredients Fallon goes into a bit more include the artificial sweeteners in diet sodas and the caffeine.

Nutra-sweet or aspartame is actually a neurotoxin.  There is no way to list all of the illness, diseases and maladies that could be linked to this sweetener alone.  The ones that captured my attention was the risk of possible birth defects, depression, brittle bones in kids, osteoporosis and the fact that when broken down it produces a known poison called Methanol.  The FDA knows that this is the case, but there is no recommendation about how much Methanol is too much.  But if it were me… I’d rather just not ingest any poison at all, just the way I think!!!

She also talks a lot about caffeine.   I will say that there isn’t much that I haven’t agreed with in this book.  And I don’t necessarily disagree with her here; I just don’t want to believe it!  I LOVE my morning and/or afternoon cup of coffee and I really don’t want to give that up.

I never knew how caffeine worked!  Fallon explains that it stimulates the adrenal gland to release a substance that causes the liver to release sugar into the blood stream.  This gives the “lift” we often feel after drinking a cup of coffee or a soda.  It all comes back to sugar!  Prolonged caffeine use has been linked to cancer, bone loss, mental disorders and birth defects… and no… I still don’t want to give it up.  What can I say!  I’m still a work in progress!

Fallon highly suggests that all caffeine and related substances be avoided.  That would include coffee, colas, tea, decongestants, aspirin, diuretics, and unfortunately chocolate.

Sodas also contain artificial flavorings, coloring and preservatives which lie in question as well.

This could come as a surprise.  Avoid fruit juices.  I’m sure many of you are already aware of this, but maybe not so much of the science behind it.  I just love Fallon for this!  She doesn’t just say it isn’t good for you, but goes into the whys and the effects it causes on the body!

Fruits are good for us, but the same as anything, in moderation.  We often can’t sit down and eat 5 apples or a peach, and apple and a pear all at once and yet we would drink that much juice at a time!  If we eat too much fruit and not enough veggies or meats then we will be consuming a diet that is mineral deficient.  Also, fruit juices are usually filtered and pasteurized.  1-2 oz of juice is equal to about 1 piece of fruit and is all we should drink at once and it should be diluted with water.

Which brings us to the next topic. Water. Here is another widely contested topic.  What kind of water is best?  City, well, filtered, spring, and if filtered, what type of filter? Hard is better is the claim Fallon makes.  Stating the people drinking harder water have a lower incidence of heart disease and stronger bones.  Also, people ingesting mostly soft water, tend to have more cases of cancer, heart attack and stroke.  Sodium is used to soften water and the higher the sodium content the less minerals there are.

Another issue is that water is often contaminated by runoff from farms, gardens or treated with chlorine and fluoride.  Fluoride is an enzyme inhibitor and is linked to bone loss, bone deformities and cancer, and there is no proof that it significantly strengthens our teeth.

Fallon definitely talks more in depth about the different types of filters out there, what they are capable of and what they remove from the water.   Very briefly, carbon and ceramic filters remove chlorine and heavy metals, but not the fluoride.  Reverse osmosis is good for removing fluoride, but also removes other valuable minerals.

Last but not least, beneficial beverages include lactic acid fermented drinks.  These are excellent drinks while doing hard physical labor.  They contain minerals and small amounts of natural sugar as well.

About Food Allergies & Special Diets:

This section I found very fascinating.  Fallon discusses how allergies are a manifestation of other problems.  There are some true allergies, but many are linked to a poorly functioning digestive system.  And knowing Fallon she definitely explains it in depth!  Fallon also discusses some of the most current and most popular diets of today and the benefits and downfalls of each of them.  Some I had heard of and some were completely new to me.

A large portion of the US suffers from food allergies. Sometimes allergies are manifested as hives, rashes, itching, IBS/upset stomach, constipation, and a whole other host of symptoms.  More severe diseases including cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia are also linked to allergies as well.

The most common of all allergies are those to dairy and grain.  Most primitive cultures would soak or culture both before eating which made it much easier to digest.  That is rarely done today.  By expecting the body to do all of the work taxes it and stresses it even more.

“Gluten intolerance is associated with a family history of alcoholism, arthritis, Down’s syndrome and mental disorders such as schizophrenia and dementia.  Gluten intolerances have been linked with vitamin B6 deficiency.” (Page 56)

There are genetic predispositions to allergies, but more often than not it is most commonly caused by a poorly functioning digestive system or overtaxed or stressed immune system.  Another cause could be related to the fact that we no longer eat from the 4000+ species of foods we used to.   We now only eat from about 30 different varieties and eat them over and over again. Too much of a good thing, isn’t a good thing anymore!

Healthy diets depend on so much.  What can or should be eaten depends on a person’s allergies, genetic inheritance, race, age climate, occupation and more.  Pregnant women, young children, elderly all have different dietary requirements.  Those who do hard physical labor need a steady supply of animal protein, while those with thyroid dysfunction would do better on low fat diets. There is no way to say that one diet is exactly what you need through your whole life time.  It will change as your life changes.

Some of the diets that Fallon reviews include carbohydrate restriction, those based on blood type, PH balances of foods and blood, food combining systems, those suggesting eating starches and proteins at different meals, macrobiotic diets and others.  Some are effective for weight loss in the short term and other can be outright dangerous if there are pre-existing health conditions like diabetes or hypoglycemia.

“Nourishing traditional foodways- which include traditional animal fats, a wide variety of properly prepared whole foods, some raw foods, homemade fish and meat broths and lacto-fermented grains, vegetables and beverages – can and should be incorporated not only into macrobiotics, but into every diet – Asian, Middle Eastern, African, Latin American, European and plain old American. The living laboratory of human society has demonstrated that diets based on these wise and ancient principles, regardless of specific ingredients, promote optimum physical mental well-being and healthy offspring, generation after generation.” (Page62)


Hopefully this has been helpful.  Stay tuned for more in two weeks on the closing of this section, a few kitchen utensils she recommends as well as a few tips!

Read Part VI

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