Why am I Craving Salt?

bowl rock salt on platter

Everyone is guilty of indulging in snacks from time to time. No matter how many healthy snacks are in your kitchen, the call of our favorite snack seems to get us eventually.

These snacks are usually salty and satisfy us quite well. It’s not unusual to crave salty foods and snacks. In the past, salt was hard to come by. Since salt was crucial to survival our bodies learned to yearn for it.

While salt is important for bodily function such as nerve transmissions, most people consume well over the daily recommended value of 2,300 mg. A meal at a fast food restaurant can contain almost a full day’s value. Food at any restaurant can be filled with a ton of salt.

So it’s no surprise we crave salt. But sometimes people feel they are missing something because they are craving salt far too often. Below are some reasons why you could be craving salt all the time.

1. Dehydration

glass water being filled

A lot of people don’t drink enough water throughout the day. Without enough fluids, your body naturally starts craving salt to encourage you to drink more fluids and eat some food that has some salt. This will help retain water and keep the body functioning properly. Be sure to drink at least 8 cups of water a day. To keep your body running as smoothly as possible, drink close to a gallon of water a day.

2. Stress

overview girl desk working stressed

Everyone feels stressed. Sometimes, however, we have to deal with stressful situations for days or weeks. Constant stress can lead to stress eating. We reach for something high in fat, sugar, and, you guessed it, salt.   

Research also suggests that elevated sodium levels reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol is your body’s stress hormone. Individuals who already have high sodium levels will also release less cortisol in stressful situations.

Consuming sodium because of stress isn’t healthy, however. It can lead to plenty of bad habits. Instead of opening a bag of chips, try a stress-relieving activity. Exercising is a great way to relieve stress and release endorphins.

3. Sweating/Electrolyte Imbalance

man running trail sweating

Ever tasted your sweat? If you thought it tastes salty that’s because it contains sodium. The more you sweat, the more salt and water you need.

Sweating due to activity throws of your electrolyte balance so consuming salt can help. Drinking sports drinks like Gatorade can also help replenish electrolytes. If you are athlete or you exercise intensely, be mindful that your body is sweating out a decent amount of sodium. The recommended daily value of 2,300 mg may be low for you.

4.  Lack of Sleep

Poor sleep, or lack of it, can lead to salt cravings. This again relates to the stress hormone cortisol. Poor sleep leads to the release of cortisol. It’s no wonder that a lot of us are craving unhealthy, salty snacks all the time.

A study in the Journal of Sleep Research found that one night of inadequate sleep could raise Ghrelin, the hunger hormone, levels by 10%. It’s important to maintain a good sleep schedule because constant elevation of Ghrelin levels can cause weight gain and even obesity.

5. Kidney Disorders

close up kidney model

Generally the reasons for salt cravings aren’t cause for concern. It’s when salt cravings are accompanied by other symptoms that a trip to the doctor might be a good idea.

Addison’s Disease is a condition where the adrenal glands don’t produce enough hormones- mainly cortisol. When this happens, salt cravings can occur. More importantly, however, there are symptoms that accompany the disease. Fatigue, muscle and joint pain, dark pigmented skin, and low appetite are common in individuals with the disease.

Bartter Syndrome is a condition where the kidneys cannot reabsorb sodium. Because of this a majority of sodium is lost in urine. Because of the low levels of sodium salt cravings will occur. People with this condition experience frequent urination, low weight gain, cramps, constipation, and kidney stones. This syndrome is typically diagnosed during childhood and can be managed through supplements.

Conclusion

It seems more often than not we are craving a salty snack. There really is no reason for concern as there are many reasons why we crave salt. Salt itself isn’t bad, but too much of one thing is always bad. Remember that the daily recommended intake for salt is 2,300 mg. We can easily surpass this number by lunchtime if we are not careful so in order to keep ourselves running like a well-oiled machine we need to watch what we eat.

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