Chew Your Way to a Sharper Brain: Can Apples Fight Off Forgetfulness?

Chewing hard food like apples could be the key to avoiding Alzheimer’s and dementia as you get older. Research conducted in Sweden reveals that maintaining the ability to chomp on chewy foods lowers the risk of losing mental abilities. So, with this in mind, let’s explore the importance of chewing for brain health in more depth.

The Link between Chewing and Mental Health

A study on aging by Swedish researchers found a strong correlation between tooth loss, chewing ability, and cognitive function in their sample of 557 Swedes who were aged 77 or older. They found that those who had difficulty chewing hard items like apples were at a significantly higher risk of developing cognitive disorders. This correlation remained consistent even when sex, age, education, and mental health problems were controlled – factors that are often reported to impact cognition. Interestingly, whether the participants had dentures or natural teeth made no difference, as long as they could still chew. The researchers believe that the act of chewing hard food stimulates blood flow to the brain, preventing it from deteriorating.

Blood Flow and Brain Health

Adequate blood flow to the brain is crucial for maintaining healthy cognitive function. As we age, the risk of reduced blood flow to the brain increases due to several factors, such as atherosclerosis, which is a buildup of plaque in the arteries. This restriction of blood flow can lead to cognitive decline and other neurological problems. Therefore, maintaining blood flow to the brain is essential for preserving mental health as we age.

By increasing blood flow to the brain, chewing hard food may provide a simple and natural way to support overall brain health. The brain requires an adequate supply of oxygen and nutrients to function optimally, both of which are supplied by blood. When blood flow to the brain is consistently reduced, neuronal function can become impaired, making it difficult to perform daily cognitive tasks like problem-solving, multitasking, and memory recall.

Brain Exercises to Boost Cognition

Keeping your mind sharp is essential as you age, and there are many fun and easy brain exercises that you can incorporate into your daily routine to help boost cognition. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  1. Do crosswords or Sudoku puzzles: These games improve linguistic and analytical skills, and help keep your mind sharp.

  2. Read a book or listen to an audiobook: Regular reading promotes mental stimulation and can reduce stress, improve sleep quality, build vocabulary, and strengthen memory power.

  3. Learn a new language: Research has shown that learning a new language can improve cognitive function, as it supports the growth of new neurons and synapses.

  4. Take up a new hobby: Engaging in a new hobby that requires strategic thinking, planning, or motor skills can help boost cognitive function. Examples include knitting, painting, gardening, or playing chess.

  5. Play brain games or apps: There are numerous brain games and apps available on the internet or mobile stores designed specifically to exercise the brain and improve cognitive skills.

Diet and Brain Health

A well-balanced diet is also essential for maintaining brain health. Researchers have identified several nutrients that play a role in supporting cognitive function. Implementing a brain-healthy diet into your lifestyle can help protect against cognitive decline. Important nutrients for brain function include:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Found in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines, as well as flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. Omega-3 is essential for healthy brain function and is believed to reduce inflammation and support neuron communication.

  • Antioxidants: Foods rich in antioxidants, such as blueberries, strawberries, dark chocolate, and green tea, are believed to protect the brain from free radicals and oxidative stress.

  • B-vitamins: These essential vitamins are important for brain metabolism and neurotransmitter function. Foods high in B vitamins include spinach, lentils, whole grains, and lean meats.

  • Phosphatidylserine: This naturally occurring phospholipid supports cell membrane composition and brain function. Excellent food sources include soybeans, organ meats, and egg yolks.

  • Curcumin: Found in the spice turmeric, curcumin has been shown to exert anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and neuroprotective effects on the brain.

In conclusion, regularly chewing on hard food like apples could help lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia. It’s believed that the act of chewing increases blood flow to the brain, which is essential for maintaining cognitive function. Paired with daily cognitive exercises and a brain-healthy diet, you’ll be able to protect your mental health as you age. Just like the saying goes: An apple a day keeps the doctor away, and in this case, perhaps dementia, too.