High-Salt Diet Can Lead To Dementia (Study)

High-salt diet linked to dementia development.

Having a high-salt diet may eventually lead to dementia, a paper suggests.

Researchers revealed that high-salt diets can have dire health complications such as upping your blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as affecting endothelial cells that result in dementia. The study was published in the journal, Nature Neuroscience.

A team of researchers from the Will Cornell Medicine in New York conducted an experiment to determine if high salt intake is linked to memory loss. Two groups of mice were monitored, as part of the study.

One group received food containing four percent salt, while the other was given food with eight percent salt. According to the scientists, the amounts given represented an “8- to 16-fold increase in salt compared to a normal mouse diet”. This was the equivalent of a high-salt diet for humans.

Three months later, the researchers analyzed the rodents using magnetic resonance imaging to see if the brain’s physiology had changed. Brain scans revealed that the high-salt diet reduced the resting blood flow to the brain, thus causing dementia. Researchers detected dysfunctions in the thin membrane composed of endothelial cells that line blood vessels (endothelium). The dysfunction also reduced nitric oxide, which relaxes vessels and increases blood flow.

According to the study, there was a 28 percent blood flow decline in the cortex and 25 percent in the hippocampus. These two brain components are associated with learning and memory.

“We discovered that mice fed a high-salt diet developed dementia even when blood pressure din not rise,” said senior author, Constantino Iadecola.

The mice which were fed only a high-salt diet performed worse in object recognition, nest behavior and during a maze test. Their cognitive functions suffered “profound alterations in cognitive function”.

However, the team was curious to see if the process was reversible so they fed them a normal diet for several weeks. When the scientists looked at the new MRI scans the noticed cerebral blood flow and endothelial function returned to normal.

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