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Which Makes You Thirstier, Salt Or Sugar?

Chow down salty chips or pretzels, and soon you'll be guzzling your favorite drink. But snacking on sugary foods makes you thirsty, too.

pretzels close up with salt

Photo: Morten Nisker Toppenberg (Flickr)

Look at all the salty goodness!

Everyone knows salt makes you thirsty. Chow down salty chips or pretzels, and soon you’ll be guzzling your favorite drink. But snacking on sugary foods makes you thirsty, too.

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

Sweet Snacks

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 they 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.

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 makes you feel thirsty.

So why don’t bartenders offer free sugary foods to make customers thirsty, instead of the usual salty pretzels or nuts? Cookies would do the trick- except that the bartender isn’t trying to sell you a glass of milk!

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