Why You Are Probably Craving Salt
By Janet Early
Cravings are signs from your body telling you that it needs something. While it seems like cravings are conniving manipulators keen on corrupting your health goals, they are actually helpful signals that you could be doing something more to optimize your body and mind’s performance.
Even those so-called “bad” cravings, which have you reaching for cookies in the middle of the night, represent key issues going on inside your body. These sugar urges are usually distress calls from your system, begging you to clean up your act and clean out the processed, junk foods from your cabinets.
However, sometimes cravings are more complicated.
What if you follow a healthy nutrition regimen minimal in processed foods and still find yourself craving something? It could indicate a nutrient deficiency.
In this article, we’ll dive into why exactly you may be craving salty foods.
What is sodium, exactly?
Found in nature, the nutrient sodium has critical roles in maintaining healthy muscle and nerve function, electrolyte balance, cell health and blood plasma levels. It also has digestive benefits, because of its involvement in stomach acid production it enables healthy fluid and balances pH.
You’ve likely been warned about salt like it’s the bad boy on campus who will break your heart. You may have heard that salt causes high blood pressure, strokes and kidney disease. However, recent studies have found that salt, possibly similar to those bad boys, is really just misunderstood. They have determined that many of the past findings are founded on poorly conducted studies and over-exaggerate the negative impact salt can have on health. In fact, there is evidence that suggests that too little sodium intake can cause an assortment of health problems.
Get Ready For Some Mind-Blowing Salt Facts!
- 75% of the sodium the average American consumes comes from sodium added to processed and restaurant foods
- 90% of America’s sodium consumption comes from table salt
- The average sodium intake per American is 3,436mg
- The recommended daily intake is 2,300mg, which equals 1 teaspoon of salt
- The minimum adequate daily intake amount is 1,500mg
- The average sodium intake for someone who lives a processed food-free lifestyle is 790mg
If you look at the statistics above, you’ll see that someone who lives a processed food-free lifestyle is consuming nearly half the recommended minimum daily amount and about one-third of what an average American consumes. Therefore, if you are a healthy adult eating a diet free of processed foods, there is no real need to restrict your sodium intake.
Of chief importance is the type of salt consumed. Briefly, table salt is the bad guy, while sea salt and Himalayan salt are the ones you want.
Table salt is so manufactured that it loses all of its nutritional benefits. And what it gains are: anti-caking chemicals, iodine, MSG and/or white processed sugar and aluminum derivatives. Not good. Unfortunately, this processed version of salt is the bad apple of the family that completely trashes the salt name.
The good news is that Sea Salt and Himalayan Salt (the purest form of salt on the planet) boost your adrenal, immune and thyroid function, while fueling your body with healthy electrolytes such as magnesium.
Here are some important benefits of these 2 salty powerhouses:
- Promote stable blood sugar levels
- Alkalize the body
- Reduce muscle cramps
- Keep the body hydrated
- Regulate heart rate, blood pressure, and cardiovascular health
- Produce enzyme enhancers that aid digestion
- Promote sinus health
- Reduce the signs of aging
The list goes on!
This brings us to the main point of this article: If you have salt cravings, what causes them and is it OKAY to give into them?
If you are eating a Standard American Diet rich in junk food and processed goods, then giving in to your cravings could worsen the situation. But if you follow a whole foods-based diet and are still experiencing salt cravings, it’s a good sign, telling you that your sodium levels are lower than what is optimal for you.
You may be deficient in sodium if:
- You are a heavy exerciser
- You drink large amounts of water regularly
- You experience:
- Muscle spasms, cramps, or weakness
- Depressed moods
- Slow recovery from exercise
- Confusion and fatigue
- Low energy
- Nausea or vomiting
In a nutshell, salt helps control the balance of fluids in the body and leaves the body through sweat. A healthy balance between water intake and sodium intake needs to exist for optimal body function. So, if you sweat frequently and/or drink lots of water each day (as we all should!), make sure you balance it out with adequate levels of sodium.
If you suspect you may be deficient, here are three key tips to fix your body’s sodium levels:
1. After workouts, rehydrate with a drink containing electrolytes.
2. Salt your food to taste. Your body’s smarter than your mind regarding what it needs. In other words, fulfill your salt cravings!
3. Pay attention to other cravings. Sometimes what feels like a sugar craving is actually you misinterpreting what your body really needs. Try having something salty and watch to see if the other craving goes away.
At the end of the day, it’s a relief to know that salt is no longer the enemy! With more and more credible studies examining the health impacts of sodium, salt’s rep is finally getting some redemption (too bad the same can’t be said for that campus heartthrob!).
Note: These tips are recommended for generally healthy adults who eat a diet minimal in processed foods. If you have health issues such as hypertension, kidney disease, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease, check with your doctor before altering your sodium intake.
Janet Early is a health enthusiast living in Los Angeles and working as a researcher for a major television company. An aspiring writer, Janet discovered her passion for wholesome nutrition and natural healing while navigating the struggles of balancing food sensitivities in a modern world. In addition to nutrition, she enjoys traveling, storytelling and embarking on daily adventures.
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