One You Pop, You Can't Stop: Why Salty Food Makes Us Eat More [VIDEO]
There just might be some truth on a popular snack chip's tag line, "Once you pop, you can't stop". A new research revealed evidence that the high sodium content in salty food can cause us to eat more and drink less.
An international team of researchers tested food consumption in two separate groups of 10 men in simulated trips to Mars. One group simulated space travel for 105 days while the other went for 205 days. Both groups had identical diets but differed in salt levels, New York Daily News reported. The results showed that the salty food caused the test subjects to drink less water.
The long-term results of the study surprised the researchers. They were able to see that there was a mechanism triggered by the saltier diet that conserved water in the kidneys. This mechanism was tested out on laboratory mice and hinted that urea might be involved, which the muscles and liver uses to rid itself of excess nitrogen. The urea accumulated in the kidney proved to be an important compound that helps hold on to the water in when the body gets rid of excess salt, MDC Insights reported.
What caused the test subjects to eat more salty food was because the high salt content causes the body to break down more muscles. Muscle catabolism means that there is a lot of energy involved when the body needs to get rid of the salt while trying to conserve water. The body is then induced to eat more just to replenish the energy caused by the muscle breakdown.
The original goal of the study was to simulate an environment where every aspect of their nutrition and water consumption could be controlled. Space travel requires balancing the maximum efficiency in conserving fuel in long voyages with how much food you could give to your passengers.