Salty Diet Makes You Hungry, Not Thirsty

News ID: 1382649 Service: Science
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TEHRAN (Tasnim) - New studies show that salty food diminishes thirst while increasing hunger, due to a higher need for energy.

We've all heard it: eating salty foods makes you thirstier. But what sounds like good nutritional advice turns out to be an old-wives' tale. In a study carried out during a simulated mission to Mars, an international group of scientists has found exactly the opposite to be true. "Cosmonauts" who ate more salt retained more water, weren't as thirsty, and needed more energy.

For some reason, no one had ever carried out a long-term study to determine the relationship between the amount of salt in a person's diet and his drinking habits. Scientists have known that increasing a person's salt intake stimulates the production of more urine.

Researchers from the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC), Vanderbilt University and colleagues around the world took advantage of a simulated mission to Mars to put the old adage to the test. Their conclusions appear in two papers in the current issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

What does salt have to do with Mars? Nothing, really, except that on a long space voyage conserving every drop of water might be crucial.

The results confirmed that eating more salt led to a higher salt content in urine -- no surprise there. Nor was there any surprise in a correlation between amounts of salt and overall quantity of urine. But the increase wasn't due to more drinking -- in fact, a salty diet caused the subjects to drink less. Salt was triggering a mechanism to conserve water in the kidneys.

The new findings change the way scientists have thought about the process by which the body achieves water homeostasis -- maintaining a proper amount and balance. That must happen whether a body is being sent to Mars or not.

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