Why do we feel thirsty after consuming salt?

You’ve spent your whole afternoon on your couch, watching the football championship on your smart TV, while munching on your favorite chips, a hot and fresh pizza, some stocks of barbecue, and some sprinkle of salt for added pleasure to your taste buds. Soon enough, you got unbelievably thirsty and drank water to the brim.

Getting thirsty inevitably happens when we eat salty things. But why do they do so?

Salty things, such as ham, hotdogs, white bread, spaghetti sauce or processed cheese are all high sources of sodium. However, your body requires an only minimal amount of sodium for healthy nerve and muscle function. If you eat too many salty foods, it disturbs the fluid balance inside your cells. With that, the complex mechanism of your body transmits signals to the brain that it has to eliminate the excess sodium through urination. If your body doesn’t have enough water but has too much sodium, it experiences a condition called hypernatremia.

Hypernatremia can be identified through many symptoms, and one of the most imminent sign is the thirst that you feel after eating salty foods. But how does it happen?

First, the blood sucks up all the excess sodium. Then, the fluid around your cells starts to get salty and absorb all the liquid from the cells. Being exposed to that condition, the cells transmit information to the brain’s so-called thirst center. It works by determining extreme levels of sodium in your body fluid and sends a signal to the body to drink more water to restore the body fluid and sodium balance in your body.

Though salty foods make you thirsty, there is a reason cited why you are still enticed to munch on these sodium-filled foods. Experts say that it may be because you are unconsciously yearning for these salty foods to ease stress. A result of a study released in 2011 showed how extra salt affected the behavior of experimented rats. They found out that the surfeit of sodium increases the oxytocin levels in the body. It is a hormone released by the outer lobe of the pituitary gland, a tiny structure situated at the bottom of the brain. The hormone is responsible for eliciting the feeling of being in love or the feeling that you’re interacting with people. Thus, it is also called as the ‘love hormone’ or the ‘cuddle hormone.’ The study noted that the rats also went to the water source after consuming a high amount of salt.

As salty food makes you thirsty, it is believed that drinking establishments, such as club and pubs, offer nuts, pretzels, and chips as snacks to trigger your thirst and keep getting to alcohol bar.

While indulging on salty food is undeniably a sheer pleasure, eating them won’t only make you thirsty. Through, it can cause adverse effects to your body. Experts say that not all people’s kidney is equipped enough to filter the extra salt they consume. If it fails to do its job, it results in a spike in blood volume and retention of fluid. That can then lead to higher blood pressure, heart attack or stroke.

With that, most experts suggest a daily intake of sodium not exceeding 1,500 milligrams. On average, Americans consumes around 3,400 milligrams of sodium, placing them on higher risks of illnesses. Prevent surpassing the daily limit by avoiding or eating processed in moderation. Increase in consuming vegetables, fruits, fish, milk, eggs, and whole-grain foods. Finally, resist that temptation of the salt-shaker.

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