Craving Salt? This Is What Your Body Is Trying to Tell You
Salt is a mineral that our bodies need (in moderation) to maintain fluid levels, transmit nerve impulses, and relax muscle fibres in the heart and blood vessels. In primitive times, humans would have to forage for what little salt sources were available in the wild. Today, we don't have it quite as tough, with a quick trip to the supermarket revealing a myriad of salty treats to indulge in.
If you've ever found yourself reaching for the salt shaker to combat your salt cravings (guilty!), then read on to learn about the common factors that might be making you feel this way, and what you can do to combat them.
Ever wonder why when you're having a stressful day your diet seems to go out the window as well? An article in the Journal of Health Psychology found that there is a significant link between chronic stress and food cravings. More research by The Obesity Society discovered that there is a link between feelings of stress and higher levels of the hunger-inducing hormone, ghrelin. The next time you're having a rough day and feel like a bag of chips, take a minute to assess how you're feeling first.
Amanda A. Kostro Miller, a Chicago-based registered dietitian states that “oftentimes thirst is masked by hunger". That salty craving you're experiencing may actually be a reminder that you need to up your fluid intake. Drinking a glass of water should be your first option.
You're working out
When you exercise intensely, you naturally lose sodium through excessive sweating. Normal day-to-day sweating is nothing to worry about, but when you're putting in an hour of long-distance running, for example, you may end up with an imbalance of electrolytes. Before biting into a sodium-rich meal, try an electrolyte-enhanced drink to get your body back to its optimal state.
You're not sleeping
By now we know how much a terrible night's sleep can impact us the next day. It turns out, according to a study by the University of California, that sleep-deprived people weren't able to resist unhealthy food temptations as well as those with regular sleep patterns. If you're experiencing issues as a result of a lack of sleep, it's best to see your GP to devise a plan together.
You're used to it
When your body gets used to a diet that's high in salt, it can become accustomed to those levels and therefore expect them regularly. Over time, you can even build up a tolerance to salty foods, meaning you might find yourself adding even more salt to your food to please your tastebuds. If this sounds like you, try reducing your salt intake for a while to keep your cravings at bay.
You have an underlying issue
Generally, a salt craving is temporary and can be cured with the simple steps outlined above. However, some medical conditions, while uncommon, can leave you feeling the salt cravings much more than usual and require more attention. If you suspect there's more to your salty addiction than meets the eye, always consult your GP to get an understanding of what's happening inside your body.
Still hungry? Try these 9 foods for a better night's sleep.