Updated: Aug 7, 2019
8. Mineral Deficiencies
Do you think your brain just regulates the calories your body takes in? If that’s the case then why are so many people, especially Americans, constantly hungry even though they get plenty of calories?
Being overweight is thought to imply one thing - and excess of calories. This is true but the excess calorie intake may be due to being "malnourished" in essential minerals
Essential minerals are substances essential to your health that your body cannot produce on its own. Humans, and the pets we feed, are the only species on earth that, on average, consume far more calories than are needed to survive and thrive. Maybe it's the quality - not the quantity - of the food that's causing the problem in both these cases.
Your brain is your master regulator. It oversees energy, repair, and recovery. Repair and recovery is arguably more important than getting calories. Ponder this concept next time you have a sleepless night and struggle to function the next day. We must repair and recovery constantly but we don’t have to eat constantly because of our calorie reserves (stored fat).
Repair and recovery needs may actually explain, at least in part, not only hunger, but cravings. Food cravings are considered by many experts to be the body's subconscious way of filling a nutritional need. When the body lacks a specific nutrient, it naturally craves foods that are rich in that nutrient. For instance, chocolate cravings may be related low magnesium levels and pickles in expecting moms for the salt and probiotics. Nutritional studies show that up to 90% of us are either magnesium deficient or insufficient. Cravings for meat or cheese are often correlated with low iron or calcium levels. Iron is important to maintain proper oxygen levels in our body while calcium is needed for every single heartbeat. Thank God for craving - it may be a simple survival response.
Fulfilling your cravings, then, may be an important signal to help your body meet its nutrient needs and correct the nutrient deficiency. However, all too many are getting mixed signals from slick marketing which directs us away from the actual needs of our body.
Mineral Deficiency and its Role in Hunger and Cravings:
Sodium plays a critical role in maintaining the body's fluid balance and is necessary for survival. For this reason, cravings for high-sodium, salty foods may be a response to sodium needs. Looking at this issues from the other direction, studies on people deficient in sodium often report strong cravings for salty foods. Similarly, people whose blood sodium levels have been purposefully lowered, either through diuretics (water pills) or exercise, also generally report an increased preference for salty foods or drinks. How many people that you know are on a salt-restricted diet?
Sodium salt (table salt) is just one of the many “salt” nutrients our body needs and craves when deficient. Potassium may be the actual source of salt cravings. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for Potassium is 4.7 grams whereas that for Sodium is only 3.4 grams. Our food supply, especially processed and restaurant foods, is very high in sodium and relatively low in potassium. Excess sodium but a lack of potassium may be the actual source of “salt” cravings and hunger.
Accusing any single mineral, like potassium for example, for cravings and a hunger response may also be a bit naive. In actuality, most of us are mineral deficient in general. The following link discusses, “The 27 Essential Vitamins and Minerals - Deficiencies and Toxicity.” https://huel.com/pages/information-on-vitamin-and-minerals-in-huel-deficiencies-and-toxicity Browsing this may give you an appreciation for the scope of potential deficiencies. I have many mid-Western clients who live in the “goiter belt.” Goiter is a preventable thyroid condition caused by a deficiency in the mineral form of iodine.