Am I Drinking Enough Water? How the Gut Knows…
Water Gut Health Hydration

A new UC San Francisco study states that the brain communicates with the gut in order to regulate water composition in the body.

Until recently, scientists believed that a brain region called the hypothalamus makes us thirsty when it detects a drop in the hydration of our blood.

But UCSF neuroscientist Zachary Knight, PhD, realized that this couldn’t be the whole story because water begins to quench our thirst almost as soon as it touches our lips, despite taking 10 minutes or more to actually change overall hydration.

To see whether these signals could be coming from the gut, the researchers infused liquid directly into the stomachs of thirsty mice while watching the activity of their thirst neurons.

Zimmerman said. “…signals from the gut are needed to quench thirst, but that you actually need to become dehydrated to trigger thirst in the first place.”

The researchers showed that the gut’s hydration signals travel via the vagus nerve to activate thirst neurons.

“This is the first time we’ve been able to watch in real time as single neurons integrate signals from different parts of the body to control a behavior like drinking,” Dr Zachary Knight said.

“This opens the door to studying how all these signals interact, such as how stress or body temperature influences thirst and appetite.”

Read more: Is Gut Health Influencing Mental Health

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