There are certain types of foods and drinks that provide special benefits to your brain. For example, in the past, studies have shown that we can boost our cognitive health and/or function by eating avocados and drinking beet juice. But what's just as important as knowing what to eat for good brain health is knowing what not to eat. That's where a new study comes in. According to Newsweek, researchers from McGill University in Montréal took it upon themselves to study the effects of salt on cognitive function. We've already been warned that too much salt can negatively affect our bodies, but there has been little word on how it affects our minds.
For the study, researchers fed a group of lab mice a high-sodium diet (relatively comparable to an average human's high-sodium diet). Another group of lab mice wasn't fed a high-sodium diet; they functioned as the control group. After two months, researchers used magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI technology, to look at all of the mice's brains, and what they found was surprising. Mice being fed a high-sodium diet had less blood flow to regions of the brain responsible for learning and memory. They also proved less efficient during maze tests as compared to the other mice.
Researchers also found that the mice consuming a high-salt diet experienced an immune response, one similar to when the human body detects a viral or bacterial infection. "It's reacting to the presence of the salt as if it's something to fight against," Elizabeth Hillman, a biomedical engineer at Columbia University's Zuckerman Institute, told Newsweek.
Luckily, researchers found that once these mice were put back on their normal diet, the effects seemed to reverse. They were back to normal blood flow levels and cognitive function. It just goes to show that salt should be used in moderation. Now we have another reason to put down the salt shaker and opt for more raw and unprocessed foods. Bad news for movie theater popcorn, but good news for our health.