Wine and cheese pairings are back [but did it ever really leave?]!

Break out the brie and Burgundy! A new study from Iowa State University has found what we eat affects our cognitive acuity as we age, with wine and cheese particularly potent in protecting and enhancing brain function.

“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,” says lead researcher Auriel Willette, an assistant professor in Food Science and Human Nutrition. 

In the study, 1 787 people aged 46 to 77 completed a Fluid Intelligence Test (FIT) between 2006 and 2010 to get a baseline marker of their ability to “think on the fly”. They then completed two follow-up assessments in 2012-13 and 2015-16. The participants also answered questions about their food and alcohol consumption throughout the testing periods.

From the data obtained, cheese was shown to be by far the most protective food against age-related cognitive problems, while 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 sharpness. Excess salt, meanwhile, was found to be particularly dangerous for people already at risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. 

The results may be a reflection of what wealthy people eat, and randomised clinical trials are required to determine if dietary changes can truly alter brain function, the researchers say. 

Nevertheless, they are hopeful dietary modifications could play a significant role in reducing the incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease. 

“I believe the right food choices can prevent the disease and cognitive decline altogether,” says Brandon Klinedinst, a Neuroscience PhD candidate who contributed to the study. Perhaps the silver bullet we’re looking for is upgrading how we eat.

In the meantime, pop a cork and platter up. 


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