Older adults with little amount of physical activity and consume high sodium in their diet may be at risk of cognitive decline, says study.
A study led by Baycrest researchers - in collaboration with colleagues at the Institut Universitaire de Geriatrie de Montreal, McGill University and the Universite de Sherbrooke - has found evidence that high-salt diets coupled with low physical activity can be detrimental to cognitive health in older adults.
The study followed the sodium consumption and physical activity levels of 1,262 healthy older men and women (ages 67 - 84) residing in Quebec, Canada, over three years.
While low sodium intake is associated with reduced blood pressure and risk of heart disease, this is believed to be the first study to extend the benefits of a low sodium diet to brain health in healthy older adults.
"We have generated important evidence that sodium intake not only impacts heart health, but brain health as well," said Dr. Alexandra Fiocco, a scientist with Baycrest's Kunin-Lunenfeld Applied and Evaluative Research Unit (KLAERU) and the study's lead investigator.
Health Canada's sodium reduction strategy recommends that people 14 years of age and older consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day in their diet.
"The results of our study showed that a diet high in sodium, combined with little exercise, was especially detrimental to the cognitive performance of older adults," said Fiocco.
"But the good news is that sedentary older adults showed no cognitive decline over the three years that we followed them if they had low sodium intake," added Fiocco.
The study has been published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging.