Excess salty food spices our body with… stress!
A diet high in salt may contribute to increased stress levels, a new study suggests. Scientists have found in mice studies that a high-salt diet increases stress hormone levels by 75%.
Experts hope the findings will encourage a review of public health policy around salt consumption, with the aim of manufacturers reducing the amount of salt in processed foods.
The recommended salt intake for adults is less than 5 grams per day, but most people regularly eat about nine to ten grams, almost double that. This can contribute to high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and vascular dementia.
The effects of salt on the health of the heart and circulatory system have long been researched, but little was known about the impact of a high-salt diet on stress levels. To study this, experts from the University of Edinburgh used mice, which usually have a low-salt diet, and fed them high-salt food to analyze the hormonal response.
They found that the hormonal response of mice fed the high-salt diet to environmental stress was double that of mice fed a normal diet.
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Eating salt increased the activity of genes that produce proteins in the brain that control how the body responds to stress.
Experts say further studies are already underway to understand whether high salt intake leads to other behavioral changes such as anxiety and aggression. The study is published in Cardiovascular Research. It was funded by the British Heart Foundation and Kidney Research UK.
Matthew Bailey, Professor of Renal Physiology at the University of Edinburgh’s Center for Cardiovascular Sciences, said: “We are what we eat and understanding how high-salt foods change our mental health is an important step towards improving well-being. We know that eating too much. salt damages our heart, blood vessels and kidneys. This study now tells us that high salt in food also changes the way our brain handles stress.”
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