Did you know that eating too many plant-based foods and not enough salt can wreak havoc on your body? This type of diet can result in excessive potassium levels, which affects the absorption of nutrients in the intestinal tract and even the production of serotonin! With vegan, raw, low-carb, and gluten-free diet trends on the rise, we wanted to bring attention to the importance of adequate sodium intake.
Potassium Signals “Hot, Sunny, and Vitamin D” To Kidneys
Fruit and vegetables contain high amounts of potassium relative to sodium. According to renowned naturopath Dr. Jonn Matsen, N.D., the kidneys interpret high potassium and low salt levels as an indication that the body is in a warm fruit-abundant climate and is thus receiving vitamin D from sunlight. This deactivates vitamin D stores from being released into the body and in turn leads to low calcium levels, since calcium needs vitamin D to be distributed throughout the body.
Low Vitamin D and Calcium Levels Weaken Ileocecal Valve
Matsen says that low calcium levels weaken the ileocecal valve, the area between the small and large intestine. This is problematic because the ileocecal valve prevents yeasts and acidic bacteria (such as acidophilus) from moving from the large intestine into the fragile alkaline environment of the small intestine. The small intestine contains enzymes that absorb nutrients and if the pH balance is thrown off, nutrient malabsorption may occur and pathogens such as yeasts and fungi can multiply.
Consequence: Candida (Intestinal Yeast)
Intestinal yeast, also known as Candida yeast, are members of the fungus family and normally inhabit the large intestine. If yeast move into the small intestine, they can destroy vitamins and digestive enzymes, so the body can no longer digest lactose and gluten. Yeast also diminish the amino acid tryptophan, which is the precursor to the mood-elevating hormone serotonin. Yeast secrete a chemical known as salsolinol, which can cause extreme cravings for – and addiction to – sugar and alcohol. Yeast thrive on the sugar we eat, they digest them and turn them into alcohol in the body, creating toxic “phenols” that can overwhelm the liver.
Yeasts thrive in the alkaline environment of the small intestine and can multiply quite easily there, presenting difficulty with eradication and long-term complications ranging from malnourishment, weight gain, and fatigue to depression. Since candida yeast is most well known as a consequence of antibiotic use (other factors that can disrupt intestinal flora include chlorinated water, antacids, and cortisone), we were surprised by the impact of a diet “too high” in fruits and vegetables and not enough sodium. Dr. Matsen says that for those of us living in the northern hemisphere, when you eat a banana in November “the kidneys think you’re in Hawaii. ”
Conclusion: The Seasonal Balanced Diet
Dr. Matsen recommends only eating fruits and vegetables that grow in your local region, adding that they can be eaten raw when in season and you are getting sun exposure, otherwise they are best eaten cooked. Matsen also recommends consuming fruit and vegetables with Celtic Sea Salt (image below is a purchase link) to balance out the potassium, which is especially important for foods that are not native to your geographic region. So for us in the North, it is important to add salt to citrus fruits, bananas, avocados, etc. He recommends organic meat and Celtic Sea Salt as healthy sources of sodium. Matsen’s book, “Eating Alive II” contains strategies for eradicating candida yeast and strengthening the ileocecal valve.