Think Better With Less Salt

Physical inactivity and high salt intake could limit brain health

(RxWiki News) Exercise and low salt diet are known to be good for heart health, but there may be more than just benefits for the heart. Brain health is just as important as heart health.

As people age, cognitive functions slow down. Researchers believe that with a little exercise and less salt, brain health will last longer.

"Add less salt and take a stroll around the park after dinner."

Lead investigator, Alexandra Fiocco, Ph.D., a scientist with Baycrest’s Kuinin-Lunenfeld Applied and Evaluative Research Unit, believes that sodium (salt) intake impacts both heart and brain health.

The study included 1,262 healthy men and women between the ages of 67 and 84 who were recruited from the Quebec Longitudinal Study on Nutrition and Successful Aging.

Participants took food frequency questionnaires to group participants in low, mid or high level sodium consumers. A modified Mini-Mental State Examination was used to measure the cognitive function in participants once a year for three years.

The results show that a diet high in sodium and little exercise showed a large decline in brain performance in older adults. The good news is that older adults who were not very active but had a low sodium diet had no decline in brain function, Fiocco says.

The American diet is usually high in sodium, so it’s important that Americans be cautious of the salt intake for heart and brain health, Fiocco says.

The research is published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging.

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Review Date: 
August 23, 2011