According to a recent study, eating a lot of salty products activates neurons that can facilitate decrease of blood flow in the brain.

Researchers explain that when you eat salty food, the brain senses it and activates a series of compensatory mechanisms to bring sodium (salt) levels back down. The brain does it by activating neurons that trigger the release of vasopressin, a hormone that plays a key role in maintaining the proper concentration of salt. Normally an activation of neurons increases blood flow (known as neurovascular coupling). However, continuous activation of vasopressin neurons leads to its hyperactivation, that can cause an excessive oxygen deficiency (hypoxia).

Brain cells are extremely sensitive to oxygen deficiency. Without sufficient oxygen, they can begin to die within 5 minutes (!) In a long run, lack of oxygen in the brain can cause coma, seizures, and even brain death.

Remarkably, salt intake turned to have a slightly different effect on 2 brain areas: the cortex (responsible for consciousness, thoughts, emotions, reasoning, language, and memory) and the hypothalamus (responsible for vital body functions such as drinking/eating, body temperature regulation, reproduction, blood pressure and heart rate). In the cortex, a response of blood vessels to salt is very localized and the dilation occured rapidly. In the hypothalamus, the response is spread out and takes place slowly, over a long period of time.

I think that the findings of this study are another good reminder to enjoy your favorite salty products in moderation, and be more careful with salt while cooking delicious dishes.

Curious? HERE is the source

Tatsiana Haponava, PhD

a certified nutrition coach, educator and researcher with a PhD degree

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