The Downside of Salt
What else do we have to worry about when it comes to salt? Well, it has been shown that our consumption of salt can be directly tied to weight gain.
In the short term, we might even see a couple pounds of fluid being retained after a particularly salty meal. This concept of fluid retention is just the beginning, though, and represents the short-term risk.
Long term, we can see that salt radically changes our appetite. As we adjust to higher levels of salt, we simply eat more. But, let’s look into one of the most important studies on this topic…
The Astronaut Study
The astronaut study5 was done on, you guessed it, astronauts!
What they were doing was putting a group of earth-bound astronauts on a diet that would test thirst, water requirements, and fluid balance as it related to salt.
They would put astronauts on diets that were the same, calorically, but which had varying levels of salt. Then, they would monitor:
- Fluid intake
- Overall thirst
What they ultimately wanted to see was if there was a diet that would influence fluid retention negatively. This is a big problem in space, where a lack of gravity can improperly influence fluid distribution throughout our bodies.
The interesting thing about the results was that they did not see any big changes in fluids, that were meaningful, but they saw that the saltier the diet, the hungrier the astronauts became.
This is true even when all of the diets maintained the exact same caloric load. The researchers even had to reassure the astronauts that they were getting enough food, and that they were not being starved – that is how hungry they became.