The Real Reason You Feel Thirsty After Eating Sugar

Spicy food, an intense workout, or a little too much time spent in the sun can all leave you feeling parched. But can the same be said for sugary treats? If you've ever enjoyed a brownie, ice cream sundae, or even a soda — only to immediately feel thirsty afterward — science may be able to offer an explanation.

Sugar affects the body both physically and mentally, reports Independent. As sugar makes its way through our digestive tract, it goes through many transformations. Enzymes in our small intestines go to work turning it into glucose to be dispersed into our blood. From there, it makes its way to the cells of our organs and muscles where it is used in its final form as energy. Sugar also influences brain function. Once introduced into our system, sugar triggers the release of happiness hormones — specifically, serotonin and dopamine. As a result, the brain's reward system becomes activated.

So we now know that sugar plays a role in energy production, as well as our brain's neural connections — but where does that leave thirst?

The importance of staying hydrated

The answer lies in our body's careful balance between water and sugar. According to research published by Indiana Public Media, as sugar (glucose) travels through the bloodstream, it draws water from our cells. As our cells try to retain their water, the brain becomes aware of the body's need for more hydration. As a result, we then feel the urge for a cool beverage.

Experts at Medical News Today explain how sugar can further exacerbate feelings of thirst if we're already dehydrated in the first place. The more sugar we consume, the harder the body works to filter that sugar out through our urine in an effort to restore balance in our cells. As your body produces more pee, the more fluid you'll lose. Therefore, it's important we regularly provide our body with the liquid it needs.

Experts at the Mayo Clinic suggest that men should aim to drink roughly 15.5 cups of fluid on a daily basis in order to stay adequately hydrated. Women are encouraged to drink 11.5 cups of liquid per day. Of all your various fluid options, however, experts say that water is your best bet. So the next time dessert arrives at the dinner table, remember to keep a glass of water nearby to help quench your thirst.