In a study carried out during a simulated mission to Mars, an international group of scientists has found that salty food diminishes thirst and increases hunger, due to a higher need for energy.
Researchers from the German Aerospace Center, the Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine, Vanderbilt University and colleagues, confirmed that eating more salt led to a higher salt content in urine, but the increase was not due to more drinking, in fact, a salty diet caused the participants to drink less. Salt was triggering a mechanism to conserve water in the kidneys.
“We have always focused on the role of salt in arterial hypertension. Our findings suggest that there is much more to know, a high salt intake may predispose to metabolic syndrome,” said the reports’ senior author, Jens Titze, MD of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center and University Clinic Erlangen, Germany.
“It’s not solely a waste product, as has been assumed,” said Friedrich C. Luft, researcher, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, USA, Charité Medical Faculty and the Max-Delbrueck Center for Molecular Medicine, Germany. “Instead, it turns out to be a very important osmolyte, a compound that binds to water and helps transport it. Its function is to keep water in when our bodies get rid of salt. Nature has apparently found a way to conserve water that would otherwise be carried away into the urine by salt,” added Luft.
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.
Salt plays an important role to preserve water in the body. It gets discharged in the urine, but it moves water back into the kidney and the body.
High quantities of salt intake can hamper our health by leading to high blood pressure, small amounts of it may prove to be beneficial.
The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.