The MÖ Aesthetic Clinic

Salt Cravings

The Salt of the Earth

Your body consists of over 60% water. Salt is one of the electrolytes that help your body maintain an appropriate balance of fluids. Our bodies actually need salt: the right type and amount stabilizes our electrolytes, lowers stress and improves brain function.

You need to eat about one teaspoon of salt each day to maintain healthy salt levels in your body. You get much of your daily salt requirement from salty foods, and there is little need to add extra at mealtimes and certainly no need for the excessive amounts found in take away meals and ready made meals.

You may find yourself craving salty foods when you try to cut these foods out of your diet because your body is accustomed to salt. The good news is that these sorts of salt cravings will eventually stop when you lose the taste for salty foods.

Natural salt contains a number of trace minerals not found in table salt. If you’re craving salt but don’t have any additional medical symptoms, your salt cravings could be the result of a trace mineral deficiency. Eating salty foods temporarily relieves cravings of this type, but they come back when your body fails to absorb any trace minerals from the salty foods you eat.

Poor nutrition, starvation diets, fasting or diets lacking green leafy vegetables could cause a mineral deficiency (particularly magnesium) and make you crave salt. (A magnesium deficiency can also result in leg cramps and insomnia. Interestingly, Magnesium helps fight fatigue. When your Magnesium levels are low your body demands more oxygen—and energy—during physical activity, and therefore you tire more quickly).

Salt cravings can also be the result of mild dehydration. When you sweat, you lose salt from your body. If you have salt cravings after exercise or after sweating on a hot day, you’ve probably lost too many electrolytes.  Electrolytes come standard in sports drinks and energy bars, but they’re usually accompanied by a massive helping of calories, artificial sweeteners and added sugar. A far better way to replace these electrolytes (Sodium, Chloride, Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium), is to eat and drink whole foods containing these nutrients. Good sources of these electrolytes can be found in bananas for Potassium, milk, for Calcium (if you tolerate milk well), vegetable soups, tomato, lettuce and celery for Sodium and Chloride, and nuts, lentils and green leafy vegetables or peanut butter for Magnesium.

 

What can a salt craving tell you?

1. You’re dehydrated

Aim to drink about half of your body weight, in ounces, of water each day. For a 140-pound person (63.5 kg), that’s 70 ounces (about 9 glasses). If you tend to crave salt in the afternoon, try drinking more water in the mornings. Spring water has the best electrolyte value because it comes straight from an aquifer which means it retains beneficial minerals. Electrolytes are important because they help regulate how and where fluids are stored and distributed through your body.

2. You’re fatigued or stressed out

The right amount of salt helps soothe the adrenal glands and lowers the stress hormone Cortisol. When your stress levels are under control, your metabolism hums along smoothly and your body is more likely to burn fat as fuel rather than store it on your hips. I LIKE the sound of this one!

So, before you make a beeline for the nearest can of Pringles, ask yourself if you’ve been drinking enough water and eating enough good quality, electrolyte rich foods. Try upping your water intake to meet your ounce-per-day goal.

 


By Claire Butler

South African-born Claire Butler is the Clinical Nutritionalist at Scandinavian Skincare Systems and holds a BSc degree in Clinical Dietetics and a postgraduate diploma in Hospital Dietetics. She is also a Consultant at the MÖ Aesthetic Clinic in the Cotswolds working with private clients for weight management and well-being.

Claire has previously managed the Diabetic and Weight Management Outpatient Facility of a major South African hospital and has worked in the Pharmaceutical industry focusing mainly on nutritional education for Doctors, Nursing staff and Pharmacy staff.

claire@scandinavianskincaresystems.com

 

 

 

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