When it comes to salt cravings, your body could be telling you that you have a need. This could be what you require to maintain health or even to heal.
When we are craving salt, we have a feeling inside that wants to have salt or salty food. Cravings can be due to several reasons.
First thing to rule out...habits. Sometimes our salt cravings may be due to habits. If we grew up salting our food without tasting it, we may have developed a salt-a-holic habit. As a general rule, we suggest not salting foods when cooking with unprocessed sea salt or mined salt. This is to avoid loosing the mineral content with the cooking process. Then salt to taste when the foods are cooked.
The most common is probably Fluid and electrolyte imbalance: Less than bodies needs.
In very rare instances, some have a genotype that result in their bodies not holding on to salt very well. As a result, they need and crave salt.
Some people lose too much salt. This can be due to a number of reasons. The most basic is drinking too much water and not taking in enough salt. A number of diseases cause people to crave salt.
Addison's disease causes the decrease in production of hormones by the adrenal glands, resulting in dehydration, and electrolyte (salt) imbalances. Those with Addison’s disease may have other symptoms including low blood pressure (hypotension), loss of appetite, fatigue and chronic diarrhea.
If your salt craving is not due to a disease process and is only caused by an imbalance, then it may easily go away once your body is back in a state of balance. Attaining balance not only requires salt, there is also a need for water.
If you are severely dehydrated, you are at risk for shock and death. You have a medical emergency. It is especially important not to drink sports drinks as the sugar could cause further complications. Some symptoms to note: confusion, unconsciousness, lethargy, cold clammy skin, no or very little pee, then you need emergency medical help. If this is happening to you, you may not recognize and do something about it. This information will help you know what to watch for in others should you observe these signs in a friend.
Addison's disease (adrenal insufficiency) can cause us to crave salt. Adrenal insufficiency is diagnosed by a blood tests. There is a special stimulation tests that can indicate inadequate levels of adrenal hormones.
Some of the Signs and symptoms of Addison's disease:
- Body aches
- Craving for salt or salty foods
- Loss of body hair
- Low blood pressure
- Muscle aches and weakness
- Nausea and abdominal pain
- Low blood pressure
- Skin discoloration (hyperpigmentation)
- Weight loss
A number of symptoms that have no specific diagnoses sometimes get called adrenal fatigue. It includes symptoms like body aches, fatigue, nervousness, sleep disturbances and digestive problems.
While it is not currently an accepted medical term, remember, there was a time that chronic fatigue was not considered real. Fibromyalgia was once thought to be all in the head.
Adrenal fatigue is most often found in alternative medical sites. At WaterCures.org, we do not take a side against or for the diagnoses. We know that if the body is properly hydrated, most health problems disappear.
The adrenal glands produce various different hormones that we need in order to live. Adrenal insufficiency (Addison's disease) refers to not producing enough of these hormones. See above for the signs and symptoms.
Some claim that adrenal fatigue is a mild form of adrenal insufficiency that results from chronic stress. There is a great deal of frustration on all sides of this issue, the medical, those suffering and those who are involved with profit from the treatments.
Sometimes craving salt could be a symptom of a kidney disorder called Bartter syndrome (it is rare) where you lose too much sodium through the kidneys.
At WaterCures.org, we follow Dr. Batmanghelidj's recommendation that those who have kidney disease and congestive heart failure not use the Water Cures protocol unless under the supervision of an experienced doctor.
Just as thirst could be masked by hunger, likewise, salt cravings can be masked by hunger or food cravings. Some foods, while not tasting salty, are high in salt. These include corn flakes, breads, and cookies. Then there are the obvious, chips and pretzels.
In the meat isle, there is bacon, sausages, cheese and especially dried, smoked and kippered meats.
Things like olives, food seasoning blends (that have salt added), fish sauce, coconut aminos and celery have salt, either naturally or as part of the process.
While many advocate reducing salt consumption, the reality is, we probably need more than we are getting. You can have too little salt and it is unhealthy.
Why do I crave salt when the US population get over 75% of their salt from processed foods? The average sodium intake is less than 3,500 mg. The recommendations are 2,500 mg unless you are older where it drops to 1,500. Yet the studies show that people on low-salt diets are more likely to die than those on higher salt diets.
Consider: Most people get a saline IV, the standard treatment most people get on entering the hospital. A liter of saline has about 1 5/8th tsp of salt. Add this to the processed food that is consumed during the stay and the average hospital patient has way more than the recommended amount of salt. And that salt is given to people by the same doctors that say eat less salt.
This is not an easy question to answer. Sodium, and especially pure sodium chloride may raise blood pressure. Monosodium Glutamate or MSG has been associated with increased blood pressure.
Most find that unprocessed salt lowers their blood pressure.
There are exceptions, although they are rare. In our experience, less than 5 of the tens of thousands we have helped as of 2015 experienced an increase in blood pressure. One possible reason is their use of MSG.
Monosodium Glutamate is related to a higher increase in blood pressure over 5 years: findings from the Jiangsu Nutrition Study of Chinese adults.J Hypertens. 2011 May;29(5):846-53. doi: 10.1097/HJH.0b013e328344da8e
CONCLUSION: MSG may raise blood pressure, especially among women and those taking hypertension medications.
Increasingly, evidence is showing that unprocessed salt is safe and healthy.
The IOM report found that blood pressure was not affected by salt intake, even with the salt as part of the foods. Link http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=18311&page=R1
Salts controls the balance of fluids in our body. We have two oceans of water in our body. One inside and one outside our cells.
What about blood thinners and salt? People speak of blood thinners. What they are actually talking about is the clotting ability of the blood. The thickness of the blood, the viscosity range is very small. Salt helps maintain the blood at the proper viscosity.
If we drink too much water without the salt on our tongue or food, we can deplete the salt in our bodies, causing an imbalance that could eventually become a life-threatening condition called hyponatremia or low blood salt levels. Rehydration requires both salt and water to be done properly.
Salt is also necessary for our growth and reproduction. One study noted that sodium free diets, bone growth and development stops and growth of all tissues stops except fat.
Note, this study was with table salt, not unprocessed salt with the vital minerals we recommend and are the result of the various benefits many users of the water cures experience.Those on a no salt diet, growth of bone and all other tissues stop, except for fat cells.Salt Craving: The Psychobiology of Pathogenic Sodium Intake
"Accumulating evidence suggests that plasticity within the central nervous system as a result of experience with high salt intake, sodium depletion, or a chronic unresolved sodium appetite fosters enduring changes in sodium related appetitive and consummatory behaviors."
Additionally, the....“Clinical and experimental observations in humans, [and] animal studies suggest that a persistent and unresolved sodium appetite can induce behavioral characteristics that are qualitatively similar to psychological depression”Unresolved salt craving results in behaviors similar to psychological depression.
Salt and Sugar
While the current thinking is to reduce salt and sugar intake, we have found something interesting when it comes to pain management. Sometimes sugar cravings may be salt cravings. Sometimes when we ask the question, why am I craving salt, there is another answer.
When we are craving salt, we may need sugar. We need both.
Try the water cures challenge to see how you react.
Caution: This is not for people with salt-related diseases (chronic kidney disease or congestive heart failure) or those on low- or no-salt diets--for that, talk to your doctor.
For healthy people, salt and sugar are not the enemy, and providing for your needs. Listen to your body, it may provide improved health.The 3 Minute Water Cures Challenge
Other Causes of Salt CravingsYou're Dehydrated
Our bodies and brains were designed to enjoy the taste of salt. The salt receptors of our tongue are on the very tip end. As we eat salt, our brain signals the release of pleasure-chemicals helping us to feel good.
Sodium works for us by helping water get into the cells of our body. When our body becomes out of balance in both water and electrolytes like salt, we enter a state of dehydration.
We lose water and or salt every time we breathe. We lose it more rapidly when we are sweating, exercising, or are in very hot conditions.
Certain medications, alcohol (beer, wine and liquor) can cause us to lose water and result in dehydration.
Prevent Dehydration: We need at least half our body weight in ounces of water daily. This amount divided by 5 or 6 is how much we need each time we drink water. Ideally, drink the water 1/2 hour before meals and 2 1/2 hours after eating.
The 8 glasses is a logical fallacy. Think, does a 4'5 woman need the same amount of water a 6'4" person needs? The amount of water we need is based on our weight, then our activity. The more we are doing, the more water we need.
As we loose water, we also loose salt. Salt cravings indicate a lack of essential minerals in addition to salt.
You Minus the Minerals
We need minerals for health.
For optimal health, we need sodium, calcium, magnesium, zinc and numerous other trace minerals. These are needed for the various hormones our body creates and to manufacture the many chemicals in our body.
Salt cravings also signal the craving for these other minerals. So salt craving may also be mineral cravings. The cravings will continue until the mineral needs are met.
To boost our minerals, we need another source. Vitamin and mineral supplements do not effectively provide the necessary nutrients that our bodies need.
Certain foods are more mineral dense. Sea vegetables like nori, kelp, and dulse, super seeds like hemp and chia provide numerous essential minerals.
Your Adrenals are Sluggish: The Wild Card
So often, when our body speaks, we do not listen. When it comes to low-functioning adrenals, the problem is understanding exactly what they are saying.
When our adrenals are sluggish or low functioning, we may crave food, minerals or just salt. Additionally, low blood pressure may be present. When we overuse adrenalin, at some point, our body gets tired and it slows down in the production of certain hormones.
Adrenaline is made from the adrenals. Think of them as the add-renal or the glands on top of the renal or kidneys. One of the hormones they make is adrenaline. Adrenaline is the fight-or-flight hormone. When we drink caffeinated beverages, for some people, the adrenals get overused and overstressed.
Signs and Symptoms to Watch
If you have salt cravings, low energy and bags under your eyes, your adrenals may be telling you something.
In general, food cravings are an indication of your body lacking something. It can be nutritional such as low minerals, emotional such as stress from family issues or physical like a sluggish adrenal system.
A blood test can tell what is going on with your adrenals.
Final Thoughts on Salt CravingsWhen it comes to salt cravings, one of the first things that may be wrong is a lack of salt and a lack of water. Our salt cravings may also be a cry for sugar. The easiest way to find out, do the 3-Minute Water Cures Challenge (noted above). List off what you are feeling. See what happens when you use the salt. See what happens when you use the sugar. You may just find the answer to your salt cravings is that you need more salt. But only use the right kind of salt. Unprocessed salt with the minerals.