If you crave salt from time to time, do not be alarmed. Salt is important to your body and your taste buds. Your body needs salt to survive. Cells float in a salty fluid called interstitial fluid and a salty solution—cytoplasm—surrounds the nucleus of your cells. Food without salt can be almost unbearably bland. Salt intensifies the flavor of food. It's even added to sweet foods to intensify the flavor.
It seems natural to crave salt, but the question is how much do you crave and why? Do you crave a few potato chips or is your craving so intense that you want to lick a plateful of salt? Here are 7 reasons you may be craving salty foods.
Dehydration can occur for many reasons. Vomiting and diarrhea can make your body lose fluid. Not drinking enough water can cause you to become dehydrated. Dehydration can also occur if you just started an exercise routine and you’re not adequately replenishing your liquids to accommodate the increased loss of fluid.
Taking medications for high blood pressure, diabetes, or sickle cell anemia can throw off the body’s balance of sodium and potassium by interfering with a regulating hormone called aldosterone, which can cause salt cravings. Salt craving could also be an indication of a thyroid disorder from the lack of iodine.
No one knows exactly why many pregnant women crave salt. It could be hormonal, or because your body is trying to regulate itself due to vomiting from morning sickness.
4. Salt Addiction
The average American consumes around 15 pounds of salt every year. The more salt you eat, the more you want and you can actually become addicted to it.
5. Adrenal Exhaustion
The adrenal glands sit at the top of each kidney and are involved in functions related to the lungs. They also metabolize blood sugar and carbohydrates and help regulate the central nervous system. They assist in cardiovascular function and hormone production, as well as gastrointestinal and liver functions. The adrenal glands help the body respond to changes caused by stress and emotions. Not getting enough sleep, stress, poor nutrition, trauma or pregnancy are just a few of the reasons adrenal exhaustion can occur.
6. Mineral Deficiency
Poor nutrition, starvation diets, fasting or diets lacking green leafy vegetables and whole grains could cause a mineral deficiency (particularly magnesium) and make you crave salt.
7. Electrolyte Imbalance
Electrolytes help control the regulation of fluids in the body. Poor nutrition or drinking too much water—which could flush minerals from your system—can cause an electrolyte imbalance, making you crave salt.
It is best to avoid any kind of processed salt—even many brands that are labeled "sea salt." Processing leaches the minerals out of sea salt so it’s important to find the type that is unrefined. Check your health food store for unrefined mineral or sea salt.
Your body requires some salt, but a little goes a long way. If your cravings aren’t satisfied by eating something salty, you might want to consider visiting your doctor.