Unforgettable news for wine and cheese lovers


Tuesday, 15 December, 2020


Unforgettable news for wine and cheese lovers

The foods we eat may have a direct impact on our cognitive ability in our later years, research has found.

The Iowa State University research study conducted a large-scale analysis of 1787 adults from the UK between the ages of 46 to 77 and found there is a link between later-in-life cognitive acuity and certain foods such as cheese and wine.

Lead researcher Auriel Willette said participants completed a Fluid Intelligence Test (FIT) as part of a touchscreen questionnaire at baseline (compiled between 2006 and 2010) and then in two follow-up assessments (conducted from 2012 through 2013 and again between 2015 and 2016).

The FIT analysis provides an in-time snapshot of an individual’s ability to think on the fly.

Participants also answered questions about their food and alcohol consumption at baseline and through two follow-up assessments. The Food Frequency Questionnaire asked participants about their intake of fresh fruit, dried fruit, raw vegetables and salad, cooked vegetables, oily fish, lean fish, processed meat, poultry, beef, lamb, pork, cheese, bread, cereal, tea and coffee, beer and cider, red wine, white wine and champagne and liqueur.

Here are four of the most significant findings from the study:

  • Cheese, by far, was shown to be the most protective food against age-related cognitive problems, even late into life.
  • The daily consumption of alcohol, particularly red wine, was related to improvements in cognitive function.
  • Weekly consumption of lamb, but not other red meats, was shown to improve long-term cognitive prowess.
  • Excessive consumption of salt is bad, but only individuals already at risk for Alzheimer’s Disease may need to watch their intake to avoid cognitive problems over time.

“I was pleasantly surprised that our results suggest that responsibly eating cheese and drinking red wine daily are not just good for helping us cope with our current COVID-19 pandemic, but perhaps also dealing with an increasingly complex world that never seems to slow down,” Willette said.

“While we took into account whether this was just due to what well-off people eat and drink, randomised clinical trials are needed to determine if making easy changes in our diet could help our brains in significant ways.”

The study also found that depending on the genetic factors one carries, some individuals seem to be more protected from the effects of Alzheimer’s, while others seem to be at greater risk.

“That said, I believe the right food choices can prevent the disease and cognitive decline altogether. Perhaps the silver bullet we’re looking for is upgrading how we eat. Knowing what that entails contributes to a better understanding of Alzheimer’s and put this disease in a reverse trajectory,” Willette said.

The data was obtained through the UK Biobank, a large-scale biomedical database and research resource containing in-depth genetic and health information from half-a-million UK participants. The database is globally accessible to approved researchers undertaking vital research into the world’s most common and life-threatening diseases. 

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Aerial Mike

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