High-Salt Diet May Lead to Cognitive Impairment

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A little salt to your dish? Great.


Too much salt in your diet? Terrible.



You may have long known that a high-salt diet leads to high blood pressure and raises the risk for stroke, which can damage your brain. The latest study, however, suggests that too much salt can cause cognitive impairment through a new mechanism.


In a previous study in 2018, scientists found that a high-salt diet caused dementia in mice. On the basis of this finding, the researchers from Weill Cornell Medicine conducted new experiments on mice to find out the reason behind it.


Why salt can be harmful to the brain



The researchers first fed mice a diet containing 8 to 16 times the normal amount of salt, then had those mice perform cognitive tests. It turns out that after two months on the high-salt diet, the mice were unable to recognize new objects and lost the ability to perform simple tasks.


At first, the researchers thought such damage to the brain was caused by high blood pressure due to restricted blood flow to the brain. But the restricted blood flow was not severe enough to damage the brain. Soon, they found something wrong in the brain tissue. Tau — a protein linked to dementia — accumulated in the brain tissue.



The build-up of tau


The researchers found that high salt intake reduced the production of nitric oxide (NO). Lower levels of NO led to low blood flow and activation of an enzyme (CDK5) in brain cells. The enzyme then led to the build-up of tau proteins, causing cognitive impairment in mice.


When the researchers treated the mice with anti-tau antibodies, they observed normal cognition in these mice along with restricted blood flow to the brain.



These findings show that eating too much salt causes the build-up of tau that stops brain cells from working properly. More importantly, even if the blood flow is still low in the brain, the researchers may counteract tau and thus reverse cognitive impairment.


What you should do


A high-salt diet can affect your brain healthy in more than one way. You should really limit your salt intake. The American Heart Association recommends 1,500 mg (1.5 grams) to 2,300 mg (2.3 grams) of salt per day.



What’s more, you should be careful with those processed food and restaurant food, as you won’t know the exact amount of salt they contain. Try to cook yourself!

4 Answers

These messages are for mutual support and information sharing only. Always consult your doctor before trying anything you read here.
I like salt, and I like spice. How lucky I am I'm still capable of thinking.

Who can eat  8 to 16 times amount anyway?
It's pretty easy to have 8 to 16 times amount in fact. You know some  persons  like mu uncle enjoys pickles ,those extremely salty foods. He eats them like they hve no tastes. I think he consumes at least 10 times amount of standards.  And he drinks lot. He's overweight and  has a bad diet. I worry about him.
Salt is also bad for the kidneys. Who knew that potato salad and spaghetti sauce are extremely high in sodium. I ate homemade potato salad every single day and got a kidney stone.
A couple of times I ate salty foods, mostly fast foods, then had very fast heart rate. My primary said it could be a mix of high salt, low potassium, and dehydration. Anyway, if you eat salt a lot you've got to hydrate yourself.
Me again. No it's not that easy. YOu cannot eat whatever you like just because ou drink enough water it's NOT RIGHT.

my grandfather had dementis many years. hes coming to live with us. he know things from 50 years ago but dont recognize my mom and me. last sumemr i lived with him for a month and i was crazy and absolute exhausting. honestly i dont think i can live with him. but now hes coming here, any advice? i really have no idea what to do.


Hey he's your gran you ought to take care of him. Family is what dementia patients all have.
Hi. I feel truly sorry for u, but I agree with what the other person says. Family is what dementia patients all have. Although they forget many things, love for you and your family is still somewhere in his heart, buried. There are lots of examples where an old father with dementia forget who his son is, but grab foods when having dinner, put them into his pocket, saying "this is my son's favorite food." You see, it's not he doesnt love you, it's he gets ill. You need to care about him. You are his hope and his shield.
I lived with my grandfather and he had a brain tumor who also made him forget who we were and it'was so painful to see him now so weak and dependant of others. It's stressful but most of all if you love them, it's painful to see it and to deal with it and accept the reality of what is going on. If you can afford it, get some company for him too, because everyone in your family will need a break from that. Find support groups if there are any, try to socialize as much as you can to pull yourself up too. You are now taking care of a loved one but try to balance it with your needs for your well-being too. Acceptance is the key; if you have faith, pray for strength. Practice some yoga, occupy your mind in something you like, practice a hobby. Talk to his doctor to see if he is able to join you in some of that at times. Well, I tried to give you my best advice. I wish you the best. Hang in there.
I was low on sodium so my Dr told me to eat more salt.  A little humor in the last line of the article. I don’t think cooking myself is a good idea. Perhaps I’ll just cook FOR myself!
Sometimes I really want to cut my belly fats and cook them :(