Sedentary individuals who consume diets high in salt may have a higher risk of both heart disease and cognitive decline.
Researchers at the Baycrest Center for Geriatric Care at the University of Toronto conducted a 3-year study that examined the salt intake and physical activity levels of 1,262 healthy men and women ages 67 to 84 who participated in the Quebec Longitudinal Study on Nutrition and Successful Aging.
They found individuals with the highest levels of sodium (3,091 milligrams a day and greater) and the lowest levels of exercise tended to show poorer cognitive performance than those with a low sodium intake and an active lifestyle. In the study, low and medium sodium intake were defined as not exceeding 2,263 and 3,090 milligrams respectively.
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.
Following the researchers the results of the study showed that a diet high in sodium, combined with little exercise, was especially detrimental to the cognitive performance of older adults. Sedentary older adults showed no cognitive decline over the three years that the researchers followed them if they had low sodium intake.
The researchers said brain failure rates are expected to rise significantly as Canada's large boomer demographic ages, therefore, educating the public about lifestyle changes that can help delay or prevent normal, age-related cognitive decline - including adopting a healthier diet - is a way to give people some control over how their brain health will hold up in later years.
Source: Baycrest Center for Geriatric Care