Cognitive decline due to poor diet, lack of exercise, and social isolation can be prevented and detected early with lifestyle changes. High sodium and low potassium linked to memory impairment in elderly. Chinese salt intake exceeds WHO recommendation.
Cognitive decline is a natural part of aging, but can also be caused by medical conditions, lifestyle choices, and other factors. Dementia is a debilitating condition that affects a person’s ability to remember, think, and make decisions, making it difficult for them to perform everyday activities. It has become one of the leading causes of death and disability among the elderly worldwide, particularly in China, which has the largest elderly population and one of the fastest-aging populations.
Preventing and detecting cognitive decline early on is crucial, as dementia is irreversible and effective treatments are limited. Studies have shown that certain lifestyle factors such as physical activity, diet, and sleep can affect cognitive function. However, the impact of dietary sodium and potassium on cognitive function remains poorly understood.
A recent study published in the KeAi journal Global Transitions looked at the impact of dietary sodium, potassium, sodium to potassium ratio, and salt on the cognitive function of a group of elderly people in China. The study found that a high intake of sodium and a high sodium-to-potassium ratio increased the risk of memory impairment, while higher levels of potassium intake were associated with a higher cognitive score. The researchers also demonstrated that the effects of dietary sodium, sodium to potassium ratio, and potassium on cognitive function have the potential to be mediated by cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease, while the link between salt and cognitive function can be mediated by sleep.
The study’s results confirm previous findings that dietary sodium to potassium ratio could provide a better measure of how these elements impact cognitive function, than looking at separate sodium or potassium values. The study also highlights the need for strategies to improve the sodium-to-potassium ratio in Chinese diets, as the population’s sodium intake remains alarmingly high, and potassium intake is insufficient.
The findings of this study suggest that decreasing sodium intake, and properly increasing potassium intake, is beneficial to cognitive function. Future studies should focus on determining the optimal ratio of dietary sodium and potassium in the elderly, as well as developing strategies to improve the sodium-to-potassium ratio in Chinese diets.