The risk of cognitive decline may be increased by eating a high salt low potassium diet

The risk of cognitive decline may be increased by eating a high salt low potassium diet ...

Cognitive decline is a process that results in a gradual decline in cognitive abilities, such as memory, attention, and problem-solving. Various medical conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease, and other forms of dementia, can also be attributed to poor diet, poor physical activity, and social isolation.

Dementia is a debilitating condition that impairs a person's ability to remember, think, and make decisions, posing significant economic, health, and social challenges.

Keeping cognitive decline early on, since dementia is irreversible, is critical. Physiology, diet, and sleep have all been shown to affect cognitive function. However, the effect of dietary sodium and potassium on cognitive function is still unclear.

A group of researchers from China conducted a prospective investigation in the KeAi journal Global Transitions. Participants included 4,213 people, who were over the age of 50 at the time of the survey.

Model 1 is adjusted for age, sex, educational level, marital status, physical activity levels, and self-reported memory. Orange squares denote a significant relationship.

A high sodium intake (> 5593.2 mg/day) and a high sodium-to-potassium ratio (> 3.8 mg/day) increased the likelihood of memory impairment in the elderly; the average cognitive test score (13.44 at baseline, total score 27.00) increased by 1 point when 1000 mg/day of sodium was replaced with an equal potassium intake.

The researchers built on previous research by demonstrating that cognitive function can be mediated by cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease (CCVD), while the connection between salt and cognitive function can be mediated by sleep.

Although China has attempted to reduce salt and sodium intake in people's diets for over a decade, the population's intake remains alarmingly high, surpassing many other countries and the World Health Organization's recommendation of a maximum of 1400 mg/day of sodium for people aged 50 to79 years and 5 g/day of salt. This high salt intake is commonly accompanied by inadequate potassium intake (1499.0 mg/day in this study vs. the Chinese recommended level of 3600 mg/day).

The findings of the study echo previous findings that a diet of sodium to potassium ratio might provide a better understanding of how these elements affect cognitive function, rather than looking at separate sodium or potassium levels.

According to the corresponding author, Ai Zhao, “Reduction in sodium intake, as well as properly increasing potassium intake, is beneficial to cognitive function.” Moreover, the development of strategies to enhance the sodium-to-potassium ratio in Chinese diets should be a top priority.”

Xiaona Na, Menglu Xi, Yiguo Zhou, Jiaqi Yang, Jian Zhang, Yuandi Xi, Yucheng Yang, Haibing Yang, and Ai Zhao, 3 November 2022, Global Transitions. DOI: 10.1016/j.glt.2022.10.002

The Sanming Project of Medicine provided funding for the research.

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