Daily intake of cheese, wine linked to decrease in risk of age-related cognitive decline, reveals study
The dietary intakes of the participants of this study, however, were self-reported and not clinically supervised or controlled
With a growing population of older people in the world, the threat of age-related cognitive impairment and decline is rising. What’s even more worrying is the fact that if not checked or prevented then cognitive impairment and decline can lead to a plethora of debilitating neurocognitive diseases like dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Preventing age-related cognitive impairment and decline is therefore a goal everybody should be working towards from a young age.
Nutrition and cognitive decline
A study published in The Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease in 2016 reveals that lifestyle modifications as a means of protecting against cognitive decline are increasingly gaining popularity.
Some lifestyle changes that are associated with reduced risks of cognitive decline are reduced intake of saturated and trans fats, increased vegetable and fruit consumption, dietary intake of vitamins E and B12 and regular aerobic exercise.
The role of nutritional interventions in preventing cognitive decline is also being highlighted by studies from across the world.
Another study published in Acta Biomedica in 2018, for example, states that there are two popular diet patterns and a number of nutrients which are considered to have a neuroprotective effect and lead to reduced risks of cognitive decline.
The Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) are two types of diet that can not only prevent cognitive decline but also reduce the risks of Alzheimer’s disease in particular.
A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, curcumin (found in turmeric), magnesium, cocoa, cocoa-derived products, tea, caffeine and garlic is also considered to have a neuroprotective effect.
Cheese, wine, lamb and neuroprotection
Going ahead with this line of research to support the nutritional prevention of cognitive decline, a new study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease adds to this list of foods you should include in your diet.
The study was conducted by researchers based at the Iowa State University, USA, and is reportedly the first-of-its-kind large-scale study in which foods are linked specifically to decreased risks of cognitive decline. The researchers collected data from 1,787 UK Biobank participants aged between 46 to 77 years.
The participants were given a Fluid Intelligence Test (FIT) and filled up a Food Frequency Questionnaire to report their intake of 49 whole foods including fresh fruit, dried fruit, vegetables, oily fish, lean fish, processed meat, poultry, beef, lamb, pork, cheese, bread, cereals, tea, coffee, beer, red wine, white wine, champagne and other liquors.
The FIT results were compiled between 2006 and 2010 and follow-up assessments were conducted from 2012 to 2013 and then again between 2015-2016.
Surprising results and limitations
The researchers found that participants who reported daily intake of cheese had the best FIT scores and proved to have the most neuroprotective features. Intake of alcohol of any type, and especially red wine, was found to have neuroprotective properties as well.
Consuming lamb weekly was also associated with improved outcomes but the same was not true for other red meats.
The study also found that added salt consumption by at-risk patients, on the other hand, led to decreased cognitive performance and added to the risk of cognitive decline. The researchers, therefore, concluded that adding red wine and cheese to the daily diet and lamb to the weekly diet can improve long-term cognitive health outcomes, while salt consumption needs to be more regulated according to individual risk.
The results of this study may be considered to be very surprising, especially since daily alcohol consumption, high cheese intake and eating red meat regularly are all individually associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular and other diseases.
Moreover, the dietary intakes of the participants of this study were self-reported and not clinically supervised or controlled. It’s therefore very important to take these findings with a pinch of salt (metaphorically) and consult your doctor for individualised dietary recommendations instead of blindly adding cheese, red wine or lamb to your diet.
For more information, read our article on Dementia.
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