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A study on the early metabolic effects of salt and fructose consumption: the protective role of water.

Increasing serum osmolality has recently been linked with acute stress responses, which over time can lead to increased risk for obesity, hypertension, and other chronic diseases. Salt and fructose are two major stimuli that can induce acute changes in serum osmolality. Here we investigate the early metabolic effects of sodium and fructose consumption and determine whether the effects of sodium or fructose loading can be mitigated by blocking the change in osmolality with hydration. Forty-four healthy subjects without disease and medication were recruited into four groups. After overnight fasting, subjects in Group 1 drank 500 mL of salty soup, while those in Group 2 drank 500 mL of soup without salt for 15 min. Subjects in Group 3 drank 500 mL of 100% apple juice in 5 min, while subjects in Group 4 drank 500 mL of 100% apple juice and 500 mL of water in 5 min. Blood pressure (BP), plasma sodium, and glucose levels were measured every 15 min in the first 2 h. Serum and urine osmolarity, serum uric acid, cortisol, fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21), aldosterone, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) level, and plasma renin activity (PRA) were measured at the baseline and 2 h. Both acute intake of salt or fructose increased serum osmolality (maximum ∼4 mOsm/L peaking at 75 min) associated with a rise in systolic and diastolic BP, PRA, aldosterone, ACTH, cortisol, plasma glucose, uric acid, and FGF21. Salt tended to cause greater activation of the renin-angiotensin-system (RAS), while fructose caused a greater rise in glucose and FGF21. In both cases, hydration could prevent the osmolality and largely block the acute stress response. Acute changes in serum osmolality can induce remarkable activation of the ACTH-cortisol, RAS, glucose metabolism, and uric acid axis that is responsive to hydration. In addition to classic dehydration, salt, and fructose-containing sugars can activate these responses. Staying well hydrated may provide benefits despite exposure to sugar and salt. More studies are needed to investigate whether hydration can block the chronic effects of sugar and salt on disease.

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