Salt is known as a basic ingredient that adds flavor to any dish. A recent study found that a long-term high-salt diet is associated with increased hunger and decreased thirst that could lead more people to gain weight.
The new findings that were published at the Journal of Clinical Investigation contradicted the more than a century scientific theory that salty foods make people thirsty. The clinical study made 10 cosmonauts as subjects to determine the effects of lowering dietary salts in their diet.
At present, Science backs up the claim that a low-salt diet would make people less thirsty. The American and German researchers reported that after decreasing the cosmonauts dietary salt intake from 12 grams to 6 grams, the men’s water intake increased. On the other hand, a high-salt diet made them drink less water.
“It makes sense that on a high-salt diet, the body wants to prevent water loss,” Jens Titze, MD, Senior author and associate professor of medicine and of molecular physiology and biophysics at Vanderbilt University said. “So the kidneys have to find a way to increase water content—and if you have more water content in your body, you’re going to be less thirsty.”
Titze claimed that the result is not surprising. The cosmonauts revealed that they were hungrier when they consumed a high-salt diet. Titze believed that the explanation for this is derived from the fact that the body requires more energy to conserve more water. The senior author added that the men could have piled on extra pounds if they were given more food during the study.
A second research duplicated the same clinical study on mice. The researchers found the same results as the mice on a high-salt diet tend to eat more than those that are on a low-salt diet. They also observed that a high-salt diet is linked to muscle protein breakdown.
The protein is converted into urea, a compound that makes the kidneys retain water and hinders water loss while salt is expelled. Moreover, the scientists also discovered that the protein muscle breakdown is linked to higher glucocortisoids that have something to do with various diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and osteoporosis.
As per Titze the result was a breakthrough because for a long time, studies have only focused on the effect of high-salt diet, which is high blood pressure. The senior author of the study claimed that the findings are a good indication that more research should be done to back up the claims.
He believed that their findings opened a new window to study that a high-salt diet could trigger more chronic diseases due to the production of glucocortisoids, even without an issue on blood pressure. He also warned that the high glucocortisoids could pose a danger in the development of metabolic syndrome leading to diabetes and heart disease.
Titze still confirmed that for short-term consumption of salty foods, the old findings still hold true. A high-salt diet for a short while will tend people to increase their fluid intake. However, when people consumed a high-salt diet more than a day, they would tend to drink less to conserve more water.
The author and his colleagues believed that their findings could be the beginning of finding new treatments for congestive heart failure and high blood pressure. They added that it may also help them understand the link between salt and weight gain.
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