Research

High salt intake makes you hungry, not thirsty, research finds

French fries, popcorns, peanuts all taste better with a pinch of salt. And all will make you thirsty. But it has observed that added salt might also make you hungry.

A new study turned some scientific views on their salty heads, according to Dr. Jens Titze. He is an associate professor of medicine and molecular physiology and biophysics at Vanderbilt University, and the report’s senior author.

The outcomes were published as a two-paper set in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. Working with German scientists, the Vanderbilt team looked at the body 18 to 24 hours after the intake of salt.

“Everyone believes that if you eat salty food, you will drink more,” Titze said. “But your body modifies to a greater salt intake. There’s water generation in your kidneys after 18 hours. As body produces more water, so you feel less thirsty.”

Salt and water

According to conventional perception, dietary salt excretion certainly leads to water loss into the urine. Thus, there is a decline in the water content of the body.

Actually, that’s not what the scientists found. Instead, they revealed that the natural principle of salt excretion is, in fact, water conservation and its production. Therefore, the body retains its own water balance, Titze said. Usually, he said, about 70 percent is excreted in urine. The rest of it goes through the lungs or somewhere else. “For example, if it’s warmer, you’d sweat more,” Titze noted.

The researchers assume that the results might provide new understandings into the Western epidemics of diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. “Our results propose that there is much more to know like a high salt intake may cause metabolic syndrome,” Titze said.

“We had a huge problem with what we found,” he added. “Nephrologists consider what goes in must also go out. Yet urine output reduced.”

Research on cosmonauts

To study what happens to salt inside the body, it is required to control what goes in and what comes out. This could be rather problematic to do in most populations.

Therefore, between 2009 and 2011, the researchers conducted long-term sodium balance studies in Russian cosmonauts. These cosmonauts were participating in a space flight simulation program at a research facility in Moscow. “We required subjects where we could collect every morsel and every urine drop,” Titze noted.

Surprisingly, by the increase of dietary salt from 6 to 12 grams per day, the men drank less water, not more. This proposed that they produced or conserved more water.

A successive study in mice found that high salt intake makes a catabolic state by glucocorticoids. That breaks down muscle protein, which is changed into urea by the liver. Urea aids your kidneys to reabsorb water thus preventing water loss while the salt is excreted.

Basically, the body cannibalizes itself so as to provide more water. This cannibalization certainly makes you hungry. Furthermore, increased glucocorticoids level is an independent risk factor for obesity, osteoporosis, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Reducing salt

From this finding, Titze is persuaded people need to fundamentally reduce their salt consumption. “It’s easy to reduce your food ingestion by 35 percent,” he said. “If you consume only two-thirds of each meal it would reduce salt, too.

Kristin Kirkpatrick, a registered dietitian and manager of wellness nutrition services at Cleveland Clinic, wrote about foods to eat in her book. “I’d rather explain about which foods to eat than to just eat less of any food,” she said. “But I can also see the reasoning in this instruction as limited to 70 percent decreases all components of that food”.

For Kirkpatrick, the key is to “Eat real food. And try to make your diet at least 70 percent plant-based.” “By eliminating most foods, you can also avoid a lot of sodium in the diet,” she said.

However, Kirkpatrick found the study motivating. “It denoted an aspect of sodium we had not realized before. Dehydration or thirst can be confused by hunger.”

“I don’t consider it alters any recommendations for obesity, diabetes, or heart disease, however,” she added. “There are several studies from the past that show that high sodium in the diet increases the risk of chronic diseases, especially stroke and heart attack. Possibly if something it may provide even more inspiration for persons with diabetes and obesity to limit sodium even more.”

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