Researchers reached the conclusion after collecting data from over 1,500 adults. The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Iowa, US // March 18th, 2021
Cheese and wine often make the top of people’s list of guilty pleasures, and while moderation is still recommended, a new study suggests that daily consumption of both substances may help prevent cognitive decline in adults.
The study was conducted by researchers from the Iowa State University, and it involved collecting data from 1787 adults between the age of 48 and 77. Researchers collected data on the eating habits and cognitive ability of every single participant.
Cognitive ability was measured with the help of a 10-minute Fluid Intelligence Test (FIT), which assesses one’s ability to think logically and problem solve. Volunteers were asked to take the FIT test several times over the course of the study, which helped researchers track variations in their scores.
Data regarding the eating habits of participants was collected through the use of a food frequency questionnaire, which includes questions about the participant’s food and alcohol consumption.
The questionnaire included questions about the participant’s consumption of raw vegetables, fresh fruit, dried fruit, salad, oily fish, cooked vegetables, lean fish, poultry, beef, lamb, pork, cheese, red wine, and more. Comparing FIT data with the food frequency questionnaire allowed them to spot unexpected patterns.
One of them was that daily consumption of cheese and red wine is linked to a reduction in cognitive decline within participants, a trend that remained true even when the data was adjusted for other factors that may have influenced the results, such as the social-economic status of the participants.
“While we took into account whether this was just due to what well-off people eat and drink, randomized clinical trials are needed to determine if making easy changes in our diet could help our brains in significant ways,” explained Dr. Auriel Willette. Dr. Willette was the lead researcher behind the study, and she is an assistant professor in Food Science and Human Nutrition at Iowa State.
She added that “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.”
This is not the first time that dietary habits were linked to improved cognition at a later age. In the past whole grains, coffee, green tea, and many other food items have been linked to improved cognition and better quality of life in our silver years.
News of the health benefits of cheese came at a great time, as many Americans found themselves indulging in guilty pleasures more often during the pandemic. Some even took to making their own cheese, wine, kombucha, and other fermented products at home with the help of companies like this one.
Sales of kombucha SCOBY and other fermentation tools are expected to rise in the near future thanks in part to the general interest in the health benefits of fermented products.
Brandon Klinedinst, another researcher involved in the project, expressed enthusiasm for the future in light of the research results. “Depending on the genetic factors you carry, some individuals seem to be more protected from the effects of Alzheimer’s, while other 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 putting this disease in a reverse trajectory.”