A high sodium, low potassium diet could increase the risk of dementia

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Dementia, characterized by memory loss and impaired thinking, is increasingly impacting the elderly, causing significant health, social, and economic challenges.

This is especially true for China, home to the world’s largest aging population. Given that dementia is irreversible and lacks effective treatment options, prevention and early detection become crucial.

Role of Sodium and Potassium in Cognitive Function

Several lifestyle choices, including physical activity, diet, and sleep, are linked to cognitive function.

A new study from China, published in Global Transitions, delves into the less explored impact of dietary sodium and potassium on cognitive function.

Details of the Study

In the study, 4,213 participants, all aged 50 or above, were assessed for their cognitive function in relation to their dietary intake of sodium, potassium, sodium to potassium ratio, and salt.

Key Findings

The researchers found that high intake of sodium (> 5593.2 mg/day) and high sodium to potassium ratio (> 3.8/day) were linked to a heightened risk of memory impairment among the elderly.

In contrast, higher potassium intake (> 1653.3 mg/day) was associated with better cognitive scores.

The cognitive test score increased by approximately one point when 1000 mg/day of sodium was replaced with an equivalent intake of potassium.

Furthermore, it was demonstrated that the impact of dietary sodium, sodium to potassium ratio, and potassium on cognitive function could potentially be mediated by cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease (CCVD), while the association between salt and cognitive function could be influenced by sleep patterns.

Despite China’s efforts to limit sodium and salt intake for over a decade, consumption levels remain high, exceeding global recommendations. Alongside this high sodium intake is insufficient potassium consumption.

Implications and Recommendations

These findings endorse previous suggestions that the sodium-to-potassium ratio may offer a better understanding of the cognitive implications of these elements, rather than considering sodium or potassium intake individually.

Ai Zhao, the corresponding author of the study, suggests, “Reducing sodium intake and appropriately increasing potassium intake could benefit cognitive function.

Given our findings and the dietary habits of the Chinese population, future research should aim to determine the optimal ratio of dietary sodium and potassium in the elderly.

Developing strategies to improve this dietary ratio should also be prioritized.”

If you care about brain health, please read studies about how the Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health, and a quick, easy scan can reveal your dementia risk.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about antioxidants that could help reduce dementia risk, and higher magnesium intake could help benefit brain health.

The study was published in Global Transitions.

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