A Moment of Science

Sweet Thirst

Everyone knows salt makes you thirsty. However, did you know snacking on sugary foods makes you thirsty, too? Learn more on this Moment of Science.

Gummy candy on top of sprinkles

Photo: shadarington (flickr)

Sugary foods like this candy, along with salty foods, pull water out of our body cells making us feel thirsty

Everyone knows salt makes you thirsty.

Chow down salty chips or pretzels, and soon you’ll be guzzling your favorite drink. However, did you know snacking on sugary foods makes you thirsty, too?

Which do you think makes you thirstier, salt or sugar?

Salt and sugar act differently in our bodies, but when it comes to causing thirst, their effects are pretty much the same. Here’s why. Particles of salt or sugar are absorbed into the bloodstream soon after we eat them. As they circulate through the body, the particles act like little siphons, pulling water out of our body cells. The cells notice the change right away, and they don’t like it, so they try to hold in water, and send chemical messengers to alert the brain.

The brain also has its own sensors that detect when the blood becomes too concentrated with particles of sugar or salt. After the brain gets the message that the body needs water to dilute the sugar or salt, you start to feel thirsty.

Cookies, candy, or even very sugary soda or juice, can make you just as thirsty as salty foods. That’s because particles of sugar and salt both pull water out of your body cells and trigger the chain of reactions that make you feel thirsty.

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