A new study reveals that salt can affect blood flow and neural activity in the brain that may lead to cognitive decline. Previous studies have shown that increased blood flow activates neurons, but no one has yet to understand the mechanism behind it.
In this research, scientists combine surgical techniques with state-of-the-art neuroimaging to examine the hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for drinking, eating, temperature regulation, and reproduction to determine the relationship between neuron activity and blood flow.
Salt and the Brain
Neurovascular coupling is the relationship between activated neurons and the rapid increase of blood flow in the brain. Tech Explorist reported that neuroimaging shows that weak blood flow can result in brain disorders. For the study, researchers chose salt because the body needs to control sodium levels precisely.
They said that salt intake activates a series of compensatory mechanisms to bring sodium levels back down. The body activates neurons to trigger the release of vasopressin that maintains the proper concentration of salt.
But they found a decrease in blood flow during neuron activation in the hypothalamus, in a process called vasoconstriction, instead of an increased blood flow during neuron activity, which is commonly observed in response to a sensory stimulus. They noted that decreased blood flow is usually observed in the cortex of those with Alzheimer’s disease, or a stroke.
ALSO READ: Adding Herbs And Spices To Food Good For Heart Health, Study Suggests
Salt Intake Explains How Hypertension Affect Brain
Scientists said that their findings show how eating a lot of salt could make sodium levels in the body elevated for a long time. They think that hypoxia, or decreased blood flow, strengthens neurons’ ability to respond to sustained salt stimulation that enables them to remain active for prolonged periods.
More so, this explains how hypertension may affect the brain. According to Futurity, between 50% to 60% of people with hypertension are salt-dependent. Too much salt can lead to hyperactivation of vasopressin neurons that induce excessive hypoxia, leading to tissue damage in the brain.
They also plan to study animal models whether too much salt would also lead to salt-dependent hypertension. Additionally, they hope to use their approach to study other brain regions and diseases.
RELATED ARTICLE: Mediterranean Diet Once Hailed As The Best Found To Increase Risk Of Fertility, Experts Claim