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Two totally different mind circuits affect our style for salt, research finds : NPR

Two totally different mind circuits assist regulate salt consumption, in accordance with a research within the journal Cell. One adjusts salt cravings, the opposite determines whether or not we discover salty meals scrumptious or disgusting.


Meals and drinks which can be actually salty might be interesting someday and off-putting the following. Now scientists suppose they know why. NPR’s Jon Hamilton reviews on a research that discovered two separate mind circuits that affect our style for salt.

JON HAMILTON, BYLINE: Our relationship with salt is difficult. Yuki Oka, a scientist at Caltech, says sodas, sports activities drinks and even faucet water all include slightly salt, often known as sodium chloride.

YUKI OKA: You take pleasure in low sodium water, however for those who think about very excessive focus of sodium like ocean water, you actually hate it.

HAMILTON: Except your physique is admittedly low on salt. That is fairly uncommon in individuals as of late. However Oka says experiments with animals present that when salt ranges plummet, the tolerance for salty water goes up.

OKA: In case your physique wants sodium, then animals instantly begin liking ocean water.

HAMILTON: They crave sodium, and so they can tolerate it in excessive concentrations they’d usually keep away from. Oka wished to know the way this method works within the mind, so he and a crew of scientists studied mice. They confirmed that one set of neurons towards the again of the mind regulates the yearning for salt.

OKA: In the event you stimulate these neurons, then animals run to sodium supply after which begin consuming.

HAMILTON: One other group of neurons towards the entrance of the mind usually units an higher restrict on salt tolerance, however when salt ranges get low sufficient, Oka says, these neurons get switched off.

OKA: Which means the sodium craving and the sodium tolerance are managed by utterly several types of neurons.

HAMILTON: The discovering, which seems within the journal Cell, is a part of a rising area of research known as interoception. It offers with inside sensations like starvation and ache. Stephen Liberles, a cell biologist at Harvard Medical Faculty, says scientists already know so much about how the mind offers with sensory data coming from the eyes, ears, nostril and pores and skin.

STEPHEN LIBERLES: The mind additionally receives tons of sensory data from the physique, from the center, the lungs, the abdomen, the gut, and the way these work has remained extra mysterious.

HAMILTON: The brand new research means that mind cells concerned in salt tolerance are managed by hormone-like substances known as prostaglandins. These substances, which flow into within the bloodstream, are finest identified for his or her function in inflicting irritation, fever and ache. Liberles says it now seems that prostaglandins additionally play a job in salt tolerance.

LIBERLES: So the query is, how is identical chemical, the identical prostaglandin molecule re-used throughout organic techniques in several contexts?

HAMILTON: Answering that query may make it attainable to develop a prostaglandin drug to discourage salt overconsumption. Nirupa Chaudhari of the College of Miami says we are likely to eat an excessive amount of salt as a result of evolution ready our our bodies for a world through which salt is scarce.

NIRUPA CHAUDHARI: Wars have been fought over salt just some centuries in the past. So we consider sodium chloride – desk salt – as so plentiful in our eating regimen and in the environment nevertheless it wasn’t at all times.

HAMILTON: Chaudhari says an excessive amount of salt can result in hypertension and coronary heart illness.

CHAUDHARI: Salt ingestion is a serious concern. Calorie ingestion is a serious concern. So it turns into actually vital to grasp how all of those totally different techniques work.

HAMILTON: She says understanding how the mind processes saltiness might assist meals firms develop a palatable salt substitute. At the very least one earlier effort failed badly.

CHAUDHARI: It tasted actually foul, so individuals did not need to use it.

HAMILTON: Chaudhari says discovering a greater possibility could require extra analysis on not solely how the mind screens salt consumption however the way it interacts with our style buds. Jon Hamilton, NPR Information.

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