Craving salty foods is a classic sign of adrenal fatigue. Salting foods before tasting them can be as well. It can also indicate a need for electrolytes. If you find yourself regularly craving salty foods, you may want to consider having testing done to assess your adrenals (Adrenal Stress Index Test). In the meantime, do not fear adding good quality sea salt to your diet, as those with adrenal fatigue really need it. It’s also really important to make sure you are getting electrolytes in your drinking water. Drinking too much purified water without adding electrolytes can flush out more minerals and further exacerbate your condition. Unfortunately, this is something we have to keep in mind because our water supply is no longer safe and we can’t all just get it from a nearby mountain stream or even from safe well water.
The adrenals help with mineral balancing through the mineral corticoids. The hormone aldosterone causes the re-absorption of sodium and chloride. It helps to regulate the sodium and potassium levels in the body, as well as the concentration sodium, potassium, magnesium and chloride in the blood. Often aldosterone is compromised in those with adrenal fatigue, and the craving for salt is a direct result of that. Imbalanced aldosterone, namely low, will cause excess sodium and chloride to be be lost.
Why You Crave Salt
If you crave salt, and have adrenal fatigue, it’s likely because you have low levels of aldosterone. When aldosterone levels are low, sodium is excreted in the urine and it takes water with it. It is really critical to stay hydrated appropriately in this situation. Adding a pinch of good quality sea salt to your water will be an important thing to do a couple of times per day until your adrenals heal and your output of aldosterone returns to normal. You also want to be sure you are getting a good balance of water, salt and potassium.
In his book ‘Adrenal Fatigue, The 21st Century Stress Syndrome’, James Wilson recommends drinking small repeated doses of water accompanied by a little food sprinkled with kelp powder. Kelp contains both potassium and sodium.
I must note that those with hypothyroid and Hashimoto’s will need to work with their doctors if they want to use kelp, as it also contains iodine. Iodine in those with autoimmune thyroid can cause a reaction. We are beginning to understand more why this occurs, but it’s critical to work with a qualified practitioner when dealing with iodine and autoimmune thyroid (namely Hashimotos).
Ways to Consume More Minerals & Electrolytes
- Bone broth would be good to sip on throughout the day. I personally think we all could stand to consume more bone broth. 1-2 cups per day is a good idea for anyone with adrenal fatigue, up to a quart would be even better.
- Beet kvass is another great addition for those with AF, as it is loaded with bio-available minerals and electrolytes, not to mention a good source of enzymes and probiotics. I wouldn’t recommend drinking it all day, but a small glass in the am and pm would be a great way to help balance those electrolytes, as well as offer added benefits.
- Kombucha, is also a great option with bio-available minerals, electrolytes, vitamins and probiotics.
- Another good option would be to add some Cell Food to your drinking water. Cell Food is a liquid mineral, electrolyte, amino acid and enzyme solution all in one, it’s a bit more expensive than just using sea salt, but it has way more to offer.
- Nettles Tea is a fabulous option as well. I recommend 2 cups a day. At least 1 quart during times of stress or more (I’ve consumed 2 quarts at times and found it to be a huge support). Here are two of my recipes for nettles: Cranberry Nettles Tea and DIY Kool-Aid. Other mineral rich tonic herbs are oatstraw, dandelion, horsetail and chickweed.
Ideally you want to get 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water per day. You could certainly mix this up by choosing to drink some of the other options I mentioned. It’s really important to make sure you get your electrolytes in – there have been issues with people drinking way too much water, flushing out minerals and creating unwanted health concerns. There is no exact formula for everyone, that is just a basic guideline to follow as we do need water for many biological processes in the body. (See here for more on the role of water in the body.)
It’s also important to avoid diuretic beverages when you have adrenal fatigue. This just further depletes your electrolytes and adds to issues of dehydration. If you do drink diuretic beverages such as coffee, caffeine, juices or alcohol be sure to add 1 1/2 times the amount of what you drank along with some sea salt, or choose one of the other options I mentioned above to ensure adequate electrolytes are consumed.