Older adults who lead sedentary lifestyles and consume a lot of sodium in their diet may be putting themselves at risk for more than just heart disease.
A study led by researchers at Baycrest in Toronto -- in collaboration with colleagues at the Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal, McGill University and the Université de Sherbrooke -- has found evidence that high-salt diets coupled with low physical activity can be detrimental to cognitive health in older adults.
The finding, which appears online in the journal Neurobiology of Aging, ahead of print publication, may have significant public health implications, emphasizing the importance of addressing multiple lifestyle factors that can impact brain health.
The study followed the sodium consumption and physical activity levels of 1,262 healthy older men and women (ages 67 -- 84) residing in Quebec, Canada, over three years. The adults were recruited from a large pool of participants in the Quebec Longitudinal Study on Nutrition and Successful Aging (NuAge).
While low sodium intake is associated with reduced blood pressure and risk of heart disease, this is believed to be the first study to extend the benefits of a low sodium diet to brain health in healthy older adults.
"We have generated important evidence that sodium intake not only impacts heart health, but brain health as well," said Dr. Alexandra Fiocco, a scientist with Baycrest's Kunin-Lunenfeld Applied and Evaluative Research Unit (KLAERU) and the study's lead investigator.