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Diet & Exercise Causing a Salty Taste in the Mouth

author image Andrea Cespedes
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.
Diet & Exercise Causing a Salty Taste in the Mouth
Sweat's salty flavor may linger on your taste buds after a workout. Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Typically, a salty taste lingers after you've downed a bag of chips or licked the edge of a margarita glass; it doesn't often occur spontaneously. Food and drink fill your mouth, nose and throat with tiny molecules that cause nerve cells to experience flavor. Occasionally, a salty taste in your mouth can arise after you've amped up your exercise routine and become more diligent about restricting what you eat. Sometimes, the origin of the taste is benign, but other times, it could be cause for concern.


If you're chronically dehydrated, you may experience a persistent salty taste in your mouth. Exercise in particular can exacerbate dehydration -- especially if your workout causes you to sweat a lot or is performed in hot conditions. Taking in a lot of caffeine to try and curb your appetite or enhance exercise performance also may make you more dehydrated and result in saltier-tasting saliva.

Nasal or Sweat Drips

Restricting your diet significantly and exercising excessively can lead to a diminished immune system. You are more susceptible to colds and sinus infections, which increase the amount of post-nasal drip. The salty taste may simply be an abundance of mucus draining down the back of your throat due to an impending or existing infection, according to an article published in Immunology and Cell Biology.

Some people sweat more or are saltier sweaters than others. If you experience the salty taste in your mouth primarily during exercise, it could simply be the effect of salt creeping into your mouth. A sweat band or hat may help minimize the sweat drips.

Serious Conditions

In extremely rare cases, a salty taste in your mouth is due to a serious condition not related to changed exercise and dietary habits. Some medications, particularly those for chemotherapy and anti-thyroid, can alter your taste sensations. Diseases that affect the salivary glands, including Sjogren's syndrome -- in which you experience dryness in the mouth and skin -- can cause your mouth to seem saltier. The salty taste also may result from a disorder of the endocrine or neurological systems. Migraines, epilepsy and Parkinson's disease have the ability to affect taste sensations. If you are concerned about the salty taste and it persists all day, consult your doctor for possible causes.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Nutritional deficiencies also can alter your taste buds and leave a salty taste in your mouth. A highly restrictive diet could leave you missing some critical nutrients, including folic acid, thiamine, vitamin B-12 and zinc. Find folic acid or folate in legumes and green, leafy vegetables, such as spinach; B-12 is present in animal foods, such as chicken, eggs and milk; thiamine is abundant in enriched breads and whole grains; and zinc is available in fortified foods as well as oysters, beef and crab. Your doctor can run a test to see if you're deficient in any of these nutrients, which can affect how your body perceives taste. A deficiency often produces a lack of taste sensation, rather than a salty taste, however.

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