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Brain cells that monitor water, mineral, and salt levels in the body influence what kind of drinks you crave when you are thirsty.

Krisanapong Detraphiphat / Getty Images


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Krisanapong Detraphiphat / Getty Images

Brain cells that monitor water, mineral, and salt levels in the body influence what kind of drinks you crave when you are thirsty.

Krisanapong Detraphiphat / Getty Images

Researchers seem to have shown how the brain creates two types of thirst.

This process involves two types of brain cells. One responds to the loss of water in the body and the other monitors the levels of salt and other minerals. Report In the journal Nature..

Together, these special thirst cells seem to determine whether animals and people crave pure water or something like a sports drink that contains salt and other minerals.

“Our brain can detect these two different stimuli with different cell types,” he says. Yuki Oka, Professor of Biology at California Institute of Technology and lead author of research.

The results of this survey seem to help answer “this question we have been asking for decades, decades, and decades.” Sean Stocker, A professor at the University of Pittsburgh, studying the balance of water and salt in the body. Stocker was not involved in the study.

Oka’s research is part of an effort to understand the underlying brain biology of behavior found in humans and many animals.

For example, a person who has just completed a long sweating workout often experiences a special type of thirst.

“Pure water doesn’t work, right? That’s not enough,” says Oka. “We need water and salt to recover. It’s easy to imagine what we’re craving for under such circumstances. [a] Sports Drink. “

Sports drinks like gatorade usually contain a mixture of salt and sugar, as well as water.

To understand what causes this type of thirst, Oka’s team studied cells in two regions of the mouse brain. Both areas are known to contain neurons involved in the sensation of thirst.

The team induced two types of thirst in mice. One was due to lack of water in the body. The other simulated the loss of water and minerals that occurred during sweaty training.

And each type of thirst seemed to produce a reaction from different types of cells.

To confirm that these cells are really involved in drinking behavior, Oka’s team conducted an experiment to give mice access to two bottles. One contained pure water and the other contained a mixture of minerals including water and salt.

Then the team used a technique called Optogenetics Stimulates each type of thirst cell in mice.

When they stimulated the water-only thirst cells, the mice immediately went to a bottle of pure water and “began to drink violently,” says Oka.

However, when the team stimulated cells that responded to salt levels, the mice began drinking a combination of pure water and salt water. In essence, they reached for a mouse version of a sports drink.

The team focused on how cells in two brain regions affect thirst. However, scientists say that these and other cell types are probably involved in the regulation of a wide range of physical functions and behaviors.

“Is it just related to thirst, or does it affect heart rate, blood pressure, and thermoregulation?” Claire Gizoski, Postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco. “These are all interconnected,” she says.

It’s very likely to be associated with blood pressure, says Stocker. Decades of research have shown how salt and fluid levels in the body change a person’s blood pressure.

Stockers Original research We found a link between the brain cells involved in thirst and the brain cells involved in blood pressure. And he says, many blood pressure drugs are likely to act on the same areas of the brain that regulate water and salt intake.

Understanding how thirst cells work in the brain can also help people with certain illnesses and athletes.

“Fluid balance is one of the top 10 factors that can cause you to be hospitalized when you come to the ER,” she says. Some of these trips may be avoided if scientists can develop sensors that function in the same way that the brain monitors water and salt levels.

“This is a great way to know how much gatorade an athlete is supposed to drink for optimal performance,” Gizowski said.

Gizowski believes that the next frontier in the science of thirst is to understand how the brain predicts the need for water and salt.

“Sometimes you’re drinking and you don’t even realize you’re drinking or thirsty, because your body is just doing these things without you knowing it. “She says. It’s probably to protect you later from “the consequences of not drinking water or being properly hydrated.”

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