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Excess Dietary Salt and Lack of Exercise Linked to Cognitive Decline

Posted Sep 17 2011 10:18pm
Posted on 2011-09-15 06:00:00 in Brain and Mental Performance | Diet | Exercise |

In that sodium intake affects blood pressure and vascular health, Canadian researchers have identified benefits of a low sodium diet on brain health in healthy older adults. Alexandra Fiocco, from the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care (Canada), and colleagues followed the sodium consumption and physical activity levels of 1,262 healthy older men and women, ages 67 to 84 years, residing in Quebec, Canada, over three years. The adults were recruited from a large pool of participants in the Quebec Longitudinal Study on Nutrition and Successful Aging (NuAge).  Participants were assessed as low, mid or high level sodium consumers based on a food frequency questionnaire they each completed. Low sodium intake was defined as not exceeding 2,263 mg/day; mid sodium intake 3,090 mg/day; and high sodium intake 3,091 and greater (this went as high as 8,098) mg/day.   Researchers used a modified Mini-Mental State Examination to measure cognitive function in participants at year one (baseline) and annually for three additional years. Physical activity levels were measured using the Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly. The team found that high-salt diets coupled with low physical activity were detrimental to cognitive health in the study subjects, and urges that: “This finding may have significant public health implications, emphasizing the importance of addressing multiple lifestyle factors rather than a single domain effect on brain health.”

Alexandra J. Fiocco, Bryna Shatenstein, Guylaine Ferland, Hélène Payette, et al. “Sodium intake and physical activity impact cognitive maintenance in older adults: the NuAge Study.” Neurobiology of Aging, 22 Aug. 2011.

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