People tend to consume about the same amount of sodium no matter where they live, and this amount hasn’t changed much over time. In fact, it’s estimated that 95% of the world’s population eat roughly the same amount of salt. And this suggests that there’s a biological reason for our salt cravings.
A 2014 analysis of data over 50 years and dozens of countries, from the United States to China found that the quantity of sodium that most people consume (and then excrete) falls into a historically narrow range of 2.6 to 4.8 grams per day (roughly between 4 and 8 grams of salt). Of course there are extremes, in Sweden in the 16th century, people ate 100 grams of salt per day, mostly from fish that had been preserved in salt.
This global trend suggests that somehow, we are regulating our salt consumption.
We know salt is crucial in keeping our body in healthy working order. Salt plays a vital role in water retention, muscle contraction, and digestion. Our bodies even give us signals when more salt is required. During hangovers, we often crave salt because we are trying to retain the water to fight dehydration.
Remember, next time a salt craving strikes, a lack of salt is dangerous. Sodium deficiency is a health condition where the body doesn’t receive enough sodium. This can become a problem in hot weather when the body will perspire more heavily than normal and dehydration will set in. An international study which released its findings in August tracked more than 100,000 people from 17 countries over 3 years and found that cutting back on salt actually poses health hazards. It found that those who consumed less than 3 grams of sodium a day had a 27% higher risk of suffering from health problems such a heart attacks or stroke than those whose salt intake was between 4.8 and 9.6 grams.
So there are valid reasons why your body would crave salt. Salt is more than an ingredient, it’s a mineral that is essential to life and shouldn’t be banished from your plate in protest. In fact, there’s 5 things you should know about salt and your health, find out what they are here.