So, let’s file this one under “strange but true.” A brand new study out of Sweden has come to a very interesting conclusion in regards to your ability to chew food. Your proficiency at this fairly basic skill, as you get older, is a predicting factor for whether you will develop dementia.
Grab a ripe apple and take a bite. Everything go well? Chewing it okay? If so, researchers say you are more likely to maintain your mental strength and proper memory further into old age. Dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease as the most prevalent and feared form, is making health news in increasingly frequent amounts these days. It is an issue that’s in the spotlight, thanks to a greying population, and what an issue it is: once your mind starts to falter, your life starts to change forever.
It is no secret that the older we become, the greater the chance that our cognitive functions deteriorate. These include skills like decision-making, problem-solving, and remembering. Research indicates several possible contributors to these changes, with several studies demonstrating an association between not having teeth, and loss of cognitive function and a higher risk of dementia.
Come again? One possible explanation is that having few or even no teeth makes chewing difficult, which leads to a reduction in the blood flow to the brain. But to date, there had been no direct study about the significance of chewing ability in a large sample of older adults. Until now!
So, the researchers addressed tooth loss, chewing ability, and cognitive function in a random selection of 557 adults over the age of 76. Here is what they found in their unusual investigation: adults who had difficulty chewing hard food (like the aforementioned apple) had a significantly higher risk of developing cognitive impairments. This link remained true even after controlling for other factors such as existing mental health issues, sex, and age. They also found that it didn’t matter if it was natural teeth or dentures—so, the act of chewing seemed to be the primary factor here.
It was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. What this means for the average consumer is that, if you do have difficulty chewing, you might want to get regular screens for cognitive function. If dementia is in your future, it is imperative to spot it as early as possible. You can actively help prevent it as well. See a previous story for more: More Natural Ways to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease.