Eating a high-salt diet, like most Americans do, appears to increase stress. In a new study published in the journal Cardiovascular Research, researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland looked at the effects of high salt consumption on stress and the brain in mice. They observed that eating a large amount of salt-rich food activated the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which regulates the body’s response to stress. A high-salt diet also increased hormones that affect cardiovascular, cognitive, immune, and metabolic functions. In other words, in addition to salt playing a role in heart, kidney and blood vessel function, it also influences the way our bodies and brains handle stress.