Salt makes you eat more

The classic view that salt increases the desire to drink is not entirely accurate but above all incomplete. The saltier the food, the more you want to eat.

It was therefore under extremely controlled conditions that this work was carried out: two groups of 10 people were closely monitored for 105 and 205 days respectively during a preparation mission for March. Conditions mimicking a situation where every drop of water counts. The investigators tested 3 levels of salt intake (12, 9 and 6 g per day) for several weeks, without changing anything in the other nutrients.

More salt: more water retention

As expected, the researchers found that the high salt content of the diet led to increased urinary osmolyte excretion. But unexpectedly, this does not lead to an increase in the amount of water drunk. On the contrary, the salty diet causes more fluid retention, which explains why the participants do not drink more. The researchers further found that salty food leads to an increase in appetite. This had already been shown in animals, in which a salty diet leads to an increase in energy intake.

More salt, more desire to eat

The explanation of the phenomenon would be due in part to urea, hitherto considered as a simple by-product of protein metabolism which must be eliminated through the urine. This new research shows that when eating salty food, there is an increase in the production of urea, and that this urea plays a role in fluid retention. It would also be the increased production of urea by the muscles, a costly process in energy, which would explain why salty food leads to eating more.

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Rakova N. et al: Increased salt consumption induces body water conservation and decreases fluid intake J Clin Invest. 10.1172/JCI88530


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