High #salt intake may have a dramatic impact on #memory and cognitive functioning, independent of its effect on blood pressure, according to an animal study published in Nature Neuroscience.

After only a few weeks, mice fed a #sodium-rich diet (8-10 times the recommended amount) experienced significantly reduced blood flow to regions of the brain associated with learning and memory. The high-salt diet developed an #immune response in their guts that had a negative impact  reducing levels of a compound critical to healthy circulation, ie., #nitric oxide. Gut bacteria may also play a role in this salt-mediated immune reaction.

Such loss of nitric oxide reduces blood supply to the brain and causes #neuron damage,  leading to impaired #cognition.

The study demonstrates a significant link between excess dietary salt intake and cerebrovascular disease, cognitive decline, and dementia.

Very low sodium can have negative effects too. The recommended intake should not exceed 2300 mg of sodium a day (5g salt). This amount could vary as per sodium losses through sweat, those on fluid restriction, ketogenic diets, salt sensitive hypertensive subjects etc.

Dietician Shwetha Bhatia

Guest Article by Dietician Shwetha Bhatia