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Can Salt Sabotage Your Best Effort to Tame the Appetite?

Salt, a common seasoning and preservative, is an essential component of many of our favorite dishes. However, when consumed in excess, it can disrupt your appetite-regulation mechanisms and lead to unhealthy eating habits. In this blog, we will explore the ways in which excessive salt intake can sabotage your best efforts to control your appetite and make healthier dietary choices.

Increased Thirst

Excessive salt consumption can lead to dehydration, which often manifests as an increased sensation of thirst, unless you are constantly thirsty; then it is easy to mistake this sensation for hunger, leading to overeating or frequent snacking.[1] This can make it challenging to tame your appetite and maintain a balanced diet.

Disrupted Hormone Regulation

Salt can disrupt the balance of hormones that play a key role in appetite regulation. High salt intake can affect the hormones responsible for making you feel full (e.g., leptin) and those that stimulate appetite (e.g., ghrelin). The result is an altered appetite, with an inclination toward eating large portions and often consuming calorie-dense, salty foods.[2]

Enhanced Desire for High-Calorie Foods

Salty foods are often high in calories and can trigger your brain's reward centers increasing the desire for more. Excessive salt consumption can lead to a preference for high-calorie, salty snacks, like potato chips, salted (and often fried) nuts and seeds, and fast food.[3] This preference for calorie-dense foods can make it difficult to control your appetite and maintain a balanced diet.

Overeating Due to Salt Addiction

Some individuals may develop a salt addiction over time, where their tolerance for salt increases, requiring more salt to achieve the same taste satisfaction. This can result in overconsumption of salty foods, leading to a higher calorie intake and making it challenging to manage your appetite.

Salt is sodium chloride and while sodium is an essential part of our diet, the amount we need each day is only 500 mg. The recommend amount not to exceed is 2000 mg a day. Having more than this amount can have adverse effects on appetite regulation and undermine your best efforts to make healthier food choices during the holidays. The consequences of excessive salt consumption include increased thirst, disrupted hormone regulation, a preference for calorie-dense foods, and even the potential development of salt addiction. To tame your appetite and maintain your health goals throughout the holiday season, remain consciously aware of your salt intake. Eating a whole food, plant-based diet naturally reduces the amount of salt consumed, and improves your overall health, so you can come out on the other side of the holidays with goals intact and still moving forward!

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[1] Stricker, E. M., & Sved, A. F. (2010). Salt appetite. Physiology & Behavior.

[2] de Kloet, A. D. et al. (2016). High salt intake attenuates the obesity-induced decrease in plasma ghrelin levels: the potential role of aldosterone. Obesity.

[3] Thaiss, C. A. et al. (2016). Hyperglycemia drives intestinal barrier dysfunction and risk for enteric infection. Science.


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