Today in Science: To Stop Your Cravings, You Need to Cut Out This Ingredient

Victoria Hoff
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Adding a sprinkle of salt to a meal might seem relatively harmless, but here's some new research that might make you take pause: Though the general thinking has always been that excess sodium makes you crave water, scientists have discovered that it really just makes you crave more food. In fact, people who consume more salt over time tend to drink less water. What you're left with is a combination of sodium bloat and excess hunger pangs. No bueno.

While observing Russian astronauts (since their dietary and fitness plans were so controlled to begin with, they were ideal candidates), scientists from Vanderbilt University gradually increased their sodium intake. Ultimately, they found the participants began drinking less water (while retaining more of it), and they reported feeling hungrier than before.

The scientists who conducted the study concluded that this might have to do with the fact that the body requires more energy to conserve water, which explains the hunger cravings. At the end of this round of research, they hypothesized that such conditions could eventually lead to weight gain—and when they followed up on this idea with a second study (this time using mice), they confirmed it to be correct. And not only did the mice eat more, but they were also more prone to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

The takeaway, of course, is to monitor your sodium intake (and make sure you're drinking lots of water, regardless). Our tip is to use salt-free seasonings like Mrs. Dash's ($3) or Bragg's ($3) to enhance the flavor of your food, no bloat (or cravings!) necessary.

Next up, read about the unhealthiest vegetable you can eat, according to scientists.

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