Why Do You Feel Thirsty When You Eat Foods High in Sodium?

Have you ever wondered why you get so thirsty when you eat foods high in sodium? Some foods which are considered high in sodium include processed cheese, hot dogs, white bread, spaghetti sauce etc. Sodium makes you feel thirsty mainly because, it creates an imbalance within the fluid of cells present within your body. There are various reasons which contribute to such thirst; we have brought forth some studies and facts related to it.

Why Do You Feel Thirsty When You Eat Foods High in Sodium?

Why Do You Feel Thirsty When You Eat Foods High in Sodium?

Sodium is essential for healthy functioning of muscles and nerves in the body. It helps to maintain the salt, electrolyte and water balance, thus maintaining healthy cell function. However, when excess amount of sodium is consumed, the body sends signal to kidneys to release excess fluid from the body through urination. Such condition is termed as hypernatremia, where sodium levels are high and dehydration, wherein body having excess sodium gives out more water by urinating. Loss of water from the body, then triggers thirst. This is one of the main reasons why you get so thirsty when you eat foods high in sodium.

Here are some important facts that explain why you get so thirsty when you eat foods high in sodium.

  • Dehydration – When you eat foods high in sodium, the main result is dehydration. When excess salt, through high sodium foods is consumed, it is absorbed by the blood. The fluid surrounding the cells then becomes saltier and sucks fluid inside the cells. Once the fluid is absorbed by cells, signals are send to thirst center. This is when the body realizes the need to consume more water to balance the amount of sodium and water in your body.
  • Role of Thirst Center – There are sensors within the thirst centers that send signals to the brain, about the content of salt in the blood. The thirst center is triggered due to the increased amount of salt, when you eat foods high in sodium. As the body needs fluid to dilute it, it sends out the signal, which is why you get so thirsty. Apart from this, kidneys also make their contribution by diluting the salt and reducing the frequency of urination. To balance all this, more fluid is required which is possible when you drink more water. This is why you get so thirsty when you eat foods high in sodium.

Sodium not only makes your body feel thirsty but can also have serious health effects on your body. Several studies have found that most of the people have weak kidneys, which are incapable of filtering excess sodium out of the fluid. This often leads to retention of fluid and excess blood volume causing individuals to suffer from massive heart attack, stroke and high blood pressure. Thus, getting thirsty when you eat foods high in sodium is an important signal. However, people with existing problems or kidney functions problems may be at greater risk of other health problems too.

What Happens When You Eat Foods High in Sodium?

It can be very well understood that excessive sodium in your body not only makes you feel thirsty but also has various health impacts on your body. Considering the fact, here are some signs and symptoms which shall alarm you of high sodium content and guide you to control down.

Let us understand what happens when you eat foods high in sodium.

  1. Thirst – As you are now aware, increased sodium content causes a need to maintain proper fluid-salt balance. This triggers the thirst center, which is why you get so thirsty.
  2. Dehydration – For people who consume excessive salt or foods high in sodium, but do not take more water along with it, there is a risk of dehydration. There are various signs of dehydration like dry mouth, dizziness, dry skin, headache and even constipation. It is essential to treat dehydration immediately to avoid further health complications.
  3. Kidney Stones: Frequent kidney stones may be an important symptom and it is time to watch for the consumption of salt in your body. Excess amount of salt, causes you to urinate more, which can also lose other minerals like calcium. The presence of such minerals in your urine can get accumulated in the kidney and cause kidney stones.
  4. High Blood Pressure: This is one of the major indications, which signals you to cut down salt consumption. Increased sodium can raise your blood pressure. The increased blood pressure in your body can harm your body and the heart, blood vessels and kidney can get affected. The best thing to control such damage is to reduce intake of salt and see decrease in your blood pressure, which reduces the risk of many ailments.

Recommended Consumption of Sodium in a Day

An average individual consumes about 1500 milligrams of sodium in a day. It is highly advisable for individuals to keep quantity of salt to minimum, and avoid consuming it during bed time. People can avoid or reduce the consumption of salt in their body, by avoiding processed or packed foods. One must also refrain from salt containing foods like soy sauce, mustard dressing, ketchup etc. Make sure to go through ingredient label of packed foods before consuming it. It is also wise to opt for fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, milk, eggs and whole grain foods to keep intake of salt in the body to minimum.


The above facts clearly explain why you get thirsty when you eat foods high in sodium. With this, it is also important to know that foods high in sodium or excessive salt is harmful for your health and can cause damage to your organs too. It can also increase the risk of kidney stones, high blood pressure and other health disorders. Hence, maintaining a healthy balance of sodium and water in your body is necessary for a healthy life and is best managed by avoiding foods high in sodium.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 7, 2017

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