Intake of Excess Salt May Reduce Thirst, Increase Hunger

Disadvantages of eating too much salt are plenty. To be precise, intake of excess salt will make you suffer with a variety of ailments, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, kidney stones and even stomach cancer.

Adding to the growing list of serious health issues related to high salt intake, an international team of scientists has revealed that salty foods may diminish you thirst and increase your hunger.

Conventional wisdom has suggested that when we eat salty food, we get thirsty and drink water. But the
Current study by researchers from the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), the Max Delbrück Centre for Molecular Medicine (MDC), and Vanderbilt University casts doubt on that assumption.

As per the researchers, people may feel thirsty in the short-term post intake of excess salt, but within 24 hours, they actually get less thirsty because their body starts to conserve and produce more water.

In order to determine a connection between salt intake and water drinking, senior study author, Jens Titze, M.D., associate professor of Medicine and of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, and colleagues carried out a mock mission to Mars, where they used two groups of ten Russian male cosmonauts packed into a mock spaceship for two simulated flights to Mars.

Both the groups had identical diets having three variant levels of salt in their meals. One group of volunteers was examined for 105 days, while the second group was tracked for over 205 days.

The researchers found Russian cosmonauts who ate more salt retained more water, had higher salt content in urine, weren’t as thirsty, and needed more energy. They discovered an association between amounts of salt and overall quantity of urine.

Prof. Titze said: “We now have to see this process as a concerted activity of the liver, muscle and kidney.
“While we didn’t directly address blood pressure and other aspects of the cardiovascular system, it’s also clear that their functions are tightly connected to water homeostasis and energy metabolism.”

The findings from the study appear as a set of two papers – “Increased salt consumption induces body water conservation and decreases fluid intake” and “High salt intake reprioritises osmolyte and energy metabolism for body fluid conservation” – in this week’s issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation.