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Why am I so thirsty?

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I've searched the site but haven't found the answer to this perhaps obvious/ridiculous query. Why is it that you can eat a meal at a restaurant that tastes great and not overly seasoned, but the next day [or even a few hours later] you're drinking literally litres of water and you're parched like the Sahara? This happened to me after eating at an Italian resto yesterday, but has happened to me with all varieties of restaurant cuisine [I must add that it happens about 20% of the time, not all the time]. My point is, if it's the salt, it would have tasted too salty and I would have noticed- if I put even a tad more salt than normal in home-cooked meals, it practically ruins the dish with its overpowering saltiness. If it isn't the salt, then what is it? It's not the alcohol- I usually have one glass of wine, whereas I would have 2 or more glasses at home, so it's not dehydration. I'm stumped! Hounds?

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  1. Quite a few people seem to get this reaction when there is more sodium content (ie the combination of salt and MSG and whatever else the resto uses). It may be that everything you ate has salt and or MSG, just below the "salty" level, but the combination from all sources pushes your sodium intake up.

    2 Replies
    1. re: hannaone

      I get this with MSG too.

      1. re: rockandroller1

        Hint: If so, it's because of the 2nd letter in 'MSG'

    2. A lot of restaurants add salt in different stages than what a lot of home cooks may do at home. It doesn't taste overtly salty because it's not added at the end (which I find a lot of home cooks to do), but there's a lot of salt in the dish. And the Italian restaurant may use a lot of cheeses in their food which has a lot of salt. If you put cheeses in at an earlier stage of cooking (eg. simmering tomato sauce with parmesan rinds), the cheesiness is not pungent as if you grated it towards the end. But you still get all the salt from the cheese.

      If that's not it, you may be sensitive to hidden MSG. It's not only Chinese restaurants that use it. I'm not saying that they'll have a bag of Accent lying around, but it could be hidden in a lot of processed ingredients they use. Thank goodness I don't have the issues some may have with excess MSG like headaches, but after an MSG-laden meal, I need to drink a ton of water.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Miss Needle

        Plus, parmesan is very high in natural MSG, so if your sauce was simmered with parmesan rinds, and then you put parmesan on top, you're getting a lot of MSG. LIke hannaone, I also get dry mouth from artificial sweeteners.

      2. Another thought is artificial or substitute sweeteners. I get a serious case of dry mouth/throat from every sweetener I have ever tried, including those derived from sugar like Splenda.

        1. If you were to fast for a few days you would become more aware of the high salt content of many restaurant foods. Sometimes the salt content is not obvious. In a tomato sauce that has wine and sugar added the salt will be less noticeable. I had this experience Saturday night after dinner at Grand Sichuan. I kept drinking water throughout the meal. I like to keep 2 bottles of water on my nightstand to take my bedtime medication and supplements. During the night i finished both bottles of water. After dining in a New Orleans type of restaurant I was parched for 2 days. Have you ever noticed that the most used ingredient for Emeril to season with is Salt? Sometimes 2 or 3 times in a single dish.

          So it is probably the salt whether you taste it or not.

          1. Ditto what others have said.

            It's probably some combination of salt, MSG, and the higher fat content of restaurant meals.

            1. Why don't you start drinking water in addition to wine, and more throughout the day? This should solve your problem, I'd think.

              1. My husband's family always complains that they get totally thirsty from garlic. I never get thirsty for any reason so I can't say, but they swear that's it.

                1. Does this just happen recently or have you always had this reaction? If it's a recent phenomenon it would be a signal for diabetes. Check with your doctor.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: PeterL

                    That was my first thought. Extreme thirst is a symptom of diabetes. You may want to have your blood sugar checked just to be certain it's not a medical issue.

                    1. re: lynnlato

                      My first thought when I saw this thread was diabetes as well.

                      1. re: lynnlato

                        As someone who's been living with diabetes for 8 years, believe me, if there's a chance you've got it, the earlier you catch it, the easier it is to treat. Being a typical male, I hadn't seen my doctor from ages 40-44 except to treat some minor sports injuries. Finally, after prodding from my wife, I had a physical and that's when I found out my blood sugar was off the charts. By that time, I had probably been a diabetic for 3-4 years, and the damage had already started.

                        The blood test can be as simple as not eating after 10 pm one night, and seeing your doctor before 10 am the next day (no food or drink other than water). He'll prick your finger, and test a drop of your blood. You'll know within 15 seconds if you're at risk. If you are, and it's early, you can often control Type II by simply adding some exercise and making some simple changes to your diet. When you learn the consequences of diabetes: decreased vision/blindness, risk of amputation, increased risk of heart attack, etc. - believe me, it's worth it to find out. Good luck!

                    2. Another thought is that restaurants use way more butter/margarine than we do at home. The salt in the butter is probably a factor.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: rworange

                        Restaurants typically use unsalted butter, at least in my experience. Use of salt can be rampant in all sorts of otherways though.

                      2. Might you be eating more when you eat out? So even if the food doesn't taste saltier than your home cooking, you're eating more period.

                        My gut reaction, though, is that restaurants use a lot more salt than home cooks do. Perhaps it's a combination of the two.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Angela Roberta

                          I think it's both. Many restaurants use more salt than the typical home cook and they tend to serve bigger portion sizes, too.

                        2. The saltiness in some food is buried beneath other flavors.

                          The thirstiness may not be related to salty food, and may be related to exercise (when you dine out do you work out more or longer beforehand), kidney function, type of wine you're drinking, electrolytes or diabetes.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: maria lorraine

                            Salt, garlic and too much wine (Fess up!)?

                          2. Sounds like this just happens when eating out. If it happens all the time, get screened for diabetes.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: lgss

                              Hi all- I didn't expect so many replies, and while I'm touched that many of you brought up possible health concerns, I think I worded the headline poorly - it should have included "... when I eat at restaurants?" I want to stress that the phenomena is resto-based only, as lgss says, and I think the posters who hit on the MSG may have it. Because I don't get the classic MSG headache, I wasn't aware there were other symptoms too [FYI, a Canadian student just proved this week that MSG destroys cells in the organism that eats them; I'm sure this'll hit the news shortly]. And Passadumkeg, I fully admit to too much wine at home- but never in a restaurant, I'm usually [a] too cheap or [b] going to be driving for that! :-)

                              1. re: Smorgasbord

                                Not quite. It was 2008-2009, it was a high school student in Calgary working in the lab of a neuroscientist, and they put the neurons into a solution containing MSG.

                                http://www.canada.com/edmontonjournal...

                                A similar study the following year: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/artic...

                                I am not saying MSG is good for you. I'm saying that there was only one study that showed brain cell damage from ingesting MSG. It was in neonatal mice that were force-fed extremely high doses. No one has ever been able to replicate those results. In order for ingested MSG to damage brain cells, the MSG would have to survive the digestive process intact and then cross the blood-brain barrier. So first, the issue is not MSG per se, but glutamate, which is the break-down product. Well, glutamate is the most abundant free amino acid in the brain. In other words, it is there already and it needs to be there. It is an important neurotransmitter. And, of course, glutamate is found many foods - beef, pork, poultry, fish, peas, corn, and other vegetables. Among its many functions, L-glutamate plays a critical role in synaptic maintenance and plasticity (McDonald and Johnston 1990); it also contributes to learning and memory through use-dependent changes in synaptic efficacy, such as long-term potentiation and long-term depression. Under pathologic conditions, excess release of L-glutamic acid and other excitatory amino acids can lead to excitotoxic lesions in brain from overexcitation of nerve cells. Under normal conditions, most free L-glutamic acid in brain is derived from local synthesis from L-glutamine and Kreb’s cycle intermediates. A considerable fraction is also derived from recycling from brain protein. Generally, the blood-brain barrier prevents glutamate circulating in blood plasma from entering the brain but there are some areas of the brain that do not have this barrier and glutamate can enter in these areas and then move through the brain. However, it would have to be a very large intake of glutamate to raise plasma concentration to the point that it causes a significant increase in glutamate levels in the brain and the brain has a system for regulating the levels of amino acids. If you have a disease that impairs the blood-brain barrier, you might be concerned.

                                There are epidemiological studies in humans that show an increased risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome, but otherwise, every single independent expert panel in the US and Europe has concluded that MSG is safe for consumption.

                                1. re: Just Visiting

                                  Check the date on Smorgasbord's post- when s/he said this week, that was probably accurate.

                                  1. re: Hobbert

                                    Oops! Sorry. Still, the rest of my answer holds.

                            2. this is a question more suited for your physician, not untrained strangers on a food board. just my humble opinion.

                              1. MSG is dangerous because it 1) destroys brain cells and 2) is only half a salt. Sodium chloride; salt, is necessary to survive. If a meal is too SALTy you will notice it by taste. But MSG has sodium and no chloride. Since it tastes like salt, you may get cravings for more of it, such as when you eat Doritos and it is unlikely you'll put them away before the bag is empty. Try eating kale chips and you will easily put them away after like 7 chips, and be satisfied. This is because your body is receiving an excess of sodium when it ingests MSG, and no chloride. Your body wants more of the thing that tastes salty, because salt contains chloride, and your body is wanting chloride, and therefore is wanting salt, not MSG. Both sodium and chloride are essential carriers of various things, including electrolytes. Drinking masses of water after ingesting MSG may not help, because you are not low on water but rather are low on chloride. Some people even say that drinking a slightly salted water instead of regular water will help more. This makes sense because it will get you chloride.

                                Aspartame has very similar effects on the brain as MSG does, so it may make sense if aspartame makes you thirsty, by basic logic though if it does the science would be different.

                                If it's alcohol then yes you are low on water - notice that when alcohol causes thirst, water fixes the problem, but when MSG causes thirst, you will drink many gallons.

                                If everything you make at home is made with fresh vegetables and doesn't come out of a box, then it is highly likely that the MSG content of restaurant foods is higher then that of home foods.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Rayvn7

                                  Sorry to repeat myself, but the science does NOT demonstrate that ingested MSG destroys brain cells. When you eat something with MSG, you end up with glutamate circulating in your blood plasma. Glutamate is an important neurotransmitter that is abundant in the brain. The blood-brain barrier prevents additional glutamate from entering the brain. Many of the foods you eat are high in glutamate, too, so if this non-scientific myth were true, your brain would be destroying itself and you would be destroying your brain by eating beef, chicken, pork, fish, and many vegetables such as peas and corn.

                                  1. re: Rayvn7

                                    What if you make kale chips with msg?

                                    1. re: Rayvn7

                                      The brain cell hoax was disproven nineteen years ago.

                                    2. I know this is an old post but I am going to add my 2 cents.

                                      There is an autoimmune disease called Sjogrens Syndrome. It is not curable and I have it. With it the white blood cells attack mucous producing glands. This comes and goes. Sometimes at night my eyes get so dry I have to wake up and use drops. I always have something to drink with me and again when it is bad that it wakes me up in the night with my mouth feeling like it is full of sand.