People who consume high amounts of salt and are inactive are not only at a higher risk of heart disease but are more likely to develop cognitive problems.
A team of Canadian researchers followed the sodium consumption and physical activity levels of 1,262 healthy men and women aged 67 to 84 over a period of three years.
Their findings showed that those who used to take highest levels of sodium and had the lowest levels of exercise were more likely to have poorer cognitive performance than those with a low sodium intake and an active lifestyle.
“We have generated important evidence that sodium intake not only impacts heart health, but brain health as well,” said senior researcher, Dr Alexandra Fiocco, of the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care.
“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,
“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.”
Participants had a daily sodium intake ranging from 2,263 milligrams to 8,098 milligrams, researchers wrote in the journal Neurobiology of Aging.
High sodium intake was considered 3,091 mg per day or greater while low and medium intake were defined as not exceeding 2,263 and 3,090 milligrams respectively.
Health Canada, however, recommends people who are more than 14 years old consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of salt each day. One teaspoon of salt is equal to 2,000 milligrams.
No need to mention that daily sodium intake includes what an individual gets through all dietary sources including food and drinks and not just the salt we add to our meal at the table.