Scientific researchers are claiming that the brain is addicted to salt.
The latest findings reveal that the reason many people find it extremely difficult to cut back on their salt intake despite being aware of the pressing dangers of heart disease, strokes and high blood pressure, is due to the addictive nature in the way that salt works.
The brains addiction to salt works the same way as the need for cigarettes or hard drugs, they trigger the same genes, brain cells and brain connections.
American and Australian scientists used mice in their research keeping some of them on low-salt diets and giving others a salt-drip.
They then recorded the activity in the creatures brains and compared them to mice that had been fed normally.
Mice were also studied that had been starved of salt for three days and then given salty water to drink freely.
The study revealed that when the mice were in need of salt their brains cells produced more proteins usually linked in addictions to substances such as nicotine, heroin and cocaine.
“In this study we have demonstrated that one classic instinct, the hunger for salt, is providing neural organisation that subserves addiction to opiates and cocaine.
“The study revealed that after salt was taken, the brain believed that it had received its fix well before it should be physically possible because the changes made by salt cravings disappeared well before the salt could have left the gut and entered the blood and got to the brain.
“It was amazing to see that the genes that were set off by the loss of sodium were already beginning to get back to the original state within ten minutes.
“It is an evolutionary mechanism of high survival value because when an animal os depleted of water or salt it can drink what it needs in five to ten minutes and get out which makes it less susceptible to predators”, reported Professor Derek Denton of Melbourne University.
From the study of the mice the scientists claim that the importance of salt to the overall health stems from an ‘ancient instinct’ and explains why many people find salty foods so enjoyable.
Experiments that stopped the mice from getting the feel good pleasure of eating salt went on to partially quench the animals appetite for salt to which fellow researcherÂ Doctor Wolfgang Liedtke of North Carolina Duke University added:
“We were surprised and gratified to see that blocking addiction-related pathways could powerfully interfere with sodium appetite.”
The amount of salt intake per day for an adult is recommended at no more than 6g.