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UCSF Study Shows How Brain Cells React to Thirst and Drinking


Researchers at the University of California at San Francisco just released a study showing how brain cells can predict the hydrating effects of drinking well water.

According to MedicalXpress, this new discovery challenges the current views of how our brains respond to thirst, which is that the brain tells us to stop when it detects a change in liquid volume or blood concentration. For years, scientists have wrestled with a simple problem in this line of thinking: as soon as we drink water, our thirst is sated, long before our body actually absorbs and responds to that water.

So how does our body know we should stop feeling thirsty, even while our cells are technically still dehydrated?

The new study shows that subfornical organ neurons make us feel thirsty when they receive signals that blood volume has decreased or the blood is too concentrated. But those same signals can’t work in reverse when it comes to telling us to stop drinking water.

USCF’s Zachary Knight, PhD, and the senior author of the study, states that those signals won’t work in revere action because thirst is satiated immediately after someone starts drinking.

“You drink a glass of water and you instantly feel like your thirst is quenched,” said Knight, who also teaches physiology at USCF. “But it actually takes tens of minutes for that water to reach your blood. You eat something salty and you instantly begin to feel thirsty even though that food is just in your mouth. The dominant model that thirst is a response to changes in the blood didn’t explain that.”

The study was first conducted on mice, where researchers targeted specific neurons in their brains to shine with light when active, and they used fiber optic probes to determine the activity of these neurons whenever the mice were drinking water. The researchers found that as soon as the mice started drinking water, the SFO neuron activity stopped and the mice stopped drinking. By studying the mice, UCSF researchers determined that these SFO neurons must also be connected to nerve sensors in the throat and mouth that can detect water and food consumption immediately.

In roughly 37% of Americans, their thirst mechanism is often mistaken for hunger because it’s so weak. This new research will help us better determine what makes a person’s thirst mechanism weak and how we can improve it. Drinking water is the most fundamental requirement for life on earth, and even today many people rely on their own sources of water.

Residential water well drilling specialists can locate an area of your property, decide where and when to begin the drilling process, and then provide you and your family with a residential water well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 15 million U.S. families rely on household water wells for their drinking water, which equals out to 79.6 billion gallons of well water per day (the equivalent of 2,923 12-oz. cans for everyone in the country).

If you’re interested in developing your own residential well, then contact DCA Drilling today to learn more about having a water well on your property.