In a recent study, scientists found a high sodium, low potassium diet could increase your risk of cognitive decline.
Too much sodium in the diet can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
It can also cause calcium losses, some of which may be pulled from the bone.
Most Americans consume at least 1.5 teaspoons of salt per day, or about 3400 mg of sodium, which contains far more than our bodies need.
Potassium is necessary for the normal functioning of all cells.
It regulates the heartbeat, ensures proper function of the muscles and nerves, and is vital for synthesizing protein and metabolizing carbohydrates.
Previous studies about the link between dietary sodium, potassium, sodium/potassium, and salt with the cognitive function provided inconsistent results.
In the current study, researchers aimed to examine the associations of sodium, potassium, sodium/potassium, and salt intakes with cognitive function among older people in China.
They used data from the database of the 1997–2006 China Health and Nutrition Survey, including 4213 participants aged at least 50 years before the study.
Dietary data at individual and household levels were examined using the method of 24-h dietary recall on three consecutive days.
The team measured the cognitive function of these people through several methods.
They found people with higher potassium intakes had much higher cognitive test scores compared with people with lower potassium intakes.
On the other hand, higher sodium/potassium intake ratios were linked to lower cognitive test scores compared with lower sodium/potassium intake ratios.
Higher dietary sodium and sodium/potassium intakes were linked to a higher risk of self-reported poor and deteriorated memory during the past 12 months.
Additionally, higher potassium intakes were strongly linked to a lower risk of deteriorated memory.
The team also found the average cognitive test score increased by about 1 point after replacing 1000 mg/day of sodium with an equal intake of potassium.
Based on the findings, the team suggests that restricting sodium and increasing potassium, and keeping the balance of dietary sodium and potassium may help prevent cognitive decline and dementia in older people.
The study was conducted by Ai Zhao et al and published in Global Transitions.
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