Consuming Salty Food Can Make You hungrier, Not More Thirsty
You all know that salty foods can make you thirsty. But did you know that a diet high in salt , might trigger overeating and may lead to weight gain?, that is according to a recent study.
According to a recent study, when individuals increase their sodium intake long-term, they actually drink less water. But high sodium levels may also increase feelings of hunger, the researchers say, which may suggest that diets high in salt, contribute to weight gain.
Researchers from the Vanderbilt University in the US city of Nashville and Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine in Germany, studied the link between salt intake and drinking habits on a simulated space mission to Mars.
But what is the connection between Mars and salt? There is not one really, except perhaps that on a long trip, holding on to every drop of water is important. The advantage of this environment was that the scientists could easily measure and monitor all aspects of salt, food and water intake.
Ten male participants were selected and were placed into a “spaceship” for 2 simulated flights to Mars. The first group, was observed for 105 days and the second group for 205 days. The same food were given to the two group, except that over periods of weeks their food had three different levels of salt content, which are 6, 9 and 12g respectively.
The findings were published in The Journal Of Clinical Investigation. The study showed that eating more salt led to urine with a higher salt content and a greater quantity of urine. But the increase was not due to the fact that the participants were drinking more.
The researchers found that the volunteers who went from a 6 grams to 12 grams salt intake drank less, and that a mechanism conserving water in their kidneys or producing more water was triggered.
Also, the participants reported feeling hungrier, when their salt levels were higher, even though they were getting the same amount of nutrients and calories. The reason behind this, may be because it takes extra energy for the body to conserve water, explains pne of the researcher, Dr. Titze. “I do think that if we had offered the cosmonauts more food, they would have over-eaten and gained weight,” he says.
How Salt Really Works in the Body
The original hypothesis, that charged chloride ions and sodium in salt, took hold of water molecules and dragged them into the urine, had been ripped apart. The study showed that salt remained in the urine, while the water moved back to the kidneys and the rest of the body.
The scientists had to revise their view of urea, a product which was formed in muscles and the liver as a way of shedding nitrogen. Experiments conducted on mice, showed that urea accumulates in the kidneys, where it neutralizes the pull of the chloride ions and sodium.
But making urea requires energy, that is why the mice on a high-salt diet had a bigger appetite. Eating salty food did not increase their thirst, it increased their hunger.
The researchers explain that in this study, urea is therefore not simply a waste product. Urea is a compound, that binds to water and helps to keep water in the body, when it gets rid of salt. Mother Nature has found a way of holding on to water, which would otherwise be carried into the urine by salt.
Learning more about these changes may help scientists develop new treatments for conditions such as congestive heart failure and high blood pressure. Also, it may help doctors to better understand the connection between salt and weight gain.
But you all know that most sodium in the typical American diet does not come from table salt. It comes from processed foods and restaurant meals, that tend to be high in saturated fats, sugar and simple carbs. Therefore, there are plenty of reason to limit these in your diet.
The recent study also suggest that, if his team’s theories hold up, reductions in sodium content across the restaurant industries and packaged food, could potentially prevent some of these harmful effects on appetite and metabolism.
But until then, reducing sodium and managing weight is important. “If you eat less of everything, you will also automatically eat less sodium”. “Therefore, it is important to exercise a bit more and eat less in general.”