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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Tastebuds

These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An individual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.

Question: When eating a salty food (i.e. potato chip), is it the sodium content dehydrating our body that makes us thirsty, or the salt on the product hitting our tastebuds, etc. that makes us thirsty?

Answer: The body is closely maintained biochemically at certain levels. In general, the fluid outside the cells called extra-cellular fluid has about the same saltiness as ocean water. This is why blood tastes slightly salty. Increasing the salt intake, by whatever method, increases the salt in the body. The part of the brain and the kidney which regulate these matters act to increase thirst(to dilute the salt to the right concentration) and also to get rid of extra salt through the kidney. Tastebuds have little to do with changing the thirst.

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