Uh oh, I am craving salt again. And feeling more thirsty than usual. Always a sign for me that I am not getting enough rest, have too much on my plate, and need to let a few non-necessary activities go! Craving salt can be a sign that our adrenal glands (the little glands that sit on top of our kidneys and secrete our stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, hormones like DHEA and pregnenolone, and aldosterone) are taxed and tired. Why? Aldosterone is responsible for the regulation of sodium, potassium, and fluid volume. Fatigued adrenals will secrete less aldosterone, which means decreased sodium retention, loss of sodium and water, leading to decreased sodium in the blood. And then we can end up with salt cravings, increased thirst, light-headedness upon standing (caused by decreased blood pressure), and lethargy.
What can you do to help your taxed and tired adrenals? In the morning, avoid a high fruit breakfast (which is high in potassium) and instead eat a protein rich breakfast and add sea salt if necessary. This morning I ate 2 pieces of turkey bacon and one egg lightly salted with sea salt on top of a bed of spinach. I felt my energy go up after breakfast and I will have my fruit later in the day as a snack.
A natural response to increased thirst would be to drink more water. Of course! However, if you drink more water when you have low sodium levels to begin with, you actually might feel worse because you are further diluting the amount of salt in your blood. What can you do? Add a little salt to your water, ¼ to ½ tsp. sea salt two times per day. Or you can add some kelp or other seaweed powder to your veggies or proteins. One of my favorite seaweed condiments is Eden Organic Seaweed Gomasio. Or if you have a Vitamix or juicer, make a veggie juice and add some sea salt! I am certainly not advocating excessive salt, and especially not from processed foods! Just enough to help relieve symptoms. When you no longer need the salt, you will no longer crave it.
Most people with fatigued adrenals tend to have low blood pressure. However, if you are one of those people that has fatigued adrenals and high blood pressure, I do not suggest the above strategies for you! And one last note, sea salt is not a rich source of iodine, it is important not to confuse salt with iodine.
Check out the book Adrenal Fatigue, The 21st Century Stress Syndrome by Dr. James Wilson for more information on this topic!