As the year draws to a close, we are all looking forward to closing the chapter on this year’s challenges and looking forward with hope for better times in the new year. Health has become a priority for everyone this year and taking care of the older people in our communities has had special importance. What do we want our older years to look like? How can we take care of our minds and bodies so that we have the best chances to live a full life as we age? To protect our cognitive function as we age, a recent study finds that this New Year’s festivities with wine and cheese can help lift more than our spirits!
Published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, information from a biomedical database of adults in the UK aged 46-77 years old was combined with questionnaires about diet habits and cognitive assessment tests. The comprehensive questions about diet asked for frequency of eating processed meat, lean fish, oily fish, poultry, lamb, beef, pork, fresh and dried fruits, cooked and raw vegetables, bread and cereal products, cheese, and consumption of beverages like tea and coffee, and alcoholic beverages of beer, cider, red and white wines, and liquors.
The results of the study found that cheese consumption, even if only eaten in the later half of life, was the most protective against age-related cognitive decline. Another significantly protective finding was red wine in moderation, which has been hailed for many benefits, but was determined to cause improvements in cognition.
As an article posted last month here at Explored Wellness discussed, consumption of processed meat should be occasional or paired with certain combinations of foods to reduce the risk of dementia. When the researchers of this particular study analyzed the results of the diet questionnaires, eating lamb was found to have increased cognition but other red meats did not have the same effect. Be sure to bring this up with your healthcare practitioner before incorporating any changes in diet or alcohol consumption.
Brandon S. Klinedinst, Scott T. Le, Brittany Larsen, et al. Genetic Factors of Alzheimer’s Disease Modulate How Diet is Associated with Long-Term Cognitive Trajectories: A UK Biobank Study. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 2020; 78 (3): 1245.