Wine and cheese helps combat dementia

Eating cheese and drinking red wine could help to combat the symptoms of dementia, according to a study by Iowa State University of almost 1,800 Brits.

The study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that a daily glass of red everyday, as well as eating cheese and a weekly meal of lamb, helped to reduce the risk of dementia due to the levels of proteins in the brain, which protected it from damage.

The Iowa State University study of 1,800 Brits from the UK Biobank, aged 46 to 77, found that too much salt was the biggest contributor to impaired cognitive function, but a daily dose of wine and cheese helped.

Food consumption

The participants in the study — chosen from in-depth genetic and health information — were asked about their consumption of fresh fruit, dried fruit, raw vegetables and salad, cooked vegetables, oily fish, lean fish, processed meat, poultry, beef, lamb, pork, cheese, bread, cereal, tea and coffee, beer and cider, red wine, white wine and champagne and spirits.

They were then asked to complete a Fluid Intelligence Test (FIT) from 2006 to 2010 and again in two follow-up assessments from 2012 to 2013 and 2015 to 2016.

Cheese was shown to be the most protective food against cognitive problems related to life, even later into life. In addition, daily glasses of alcohol, especially red wine, and lamb consumed weekly – although not other red meats – were found to improve long-term cognitive function.

Salt was found to be the worst product to consume, with the risk for Alzheimer’s significantly heightened when it was consumed in high levels.

Randomised trials

Dr Auriel Willette, an assistant professor in Food Science and Human Nutrition, said: “While we took into account whether this was just due to what well-off people eat and drink, randomised clinical trials are needed to determine if making easy changes in our diet could help our brains in significant ways.”

Neuroscience PhD candidate Brandon Klinedinst added that genetic factors could come into play, but that “the right food choices can prevent the disease and cognitive decline altogether.”

He said: “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.”