If you crave salt it often means you are losing more sodium than you normally should. The mineralocorticoid aldosterone, secreted by your adrenal glands, works with the kidneys to hang onto sodium (and chloride), which not only keeps sodium in your body, but also water. This is to maintain the electrolyte and water balance within your body. Stressed out adrenal glands, especially in the later stages of chronic stress, tend to produce less aldosterone and therefore more sodium is lost – so you crave it (or salted pretzels!). This may cause your running shorts or cycling helmet chinstrap to become white-coated with salt after a workout. It may also cause your dog to uncontrollably lick your leg after a long summer workout! Since you will lose more water with a lowered sodium level from the lowered aldosterone, you will become dehydrated more easily. Even though you lose more fluid with the lowered adrenal gland function, edema (swelling that occurs especially around the ankles), is a common occurrence as your body tries to regulate the electrolyte imbalance. However, the problem arises when a physician thinks that the patient is holding onto too much water and prescribes a diuretic to help remove the fluid. That can only make things worse in the long run although it might help remove excess fluid initially. A diuretic will deplete potassium levels so then you’ll be depleted in two major electrolytes, (sodium and potassium), which are necessary for many health processes.
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