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Chewing ability linked to reduced dementia risk

Date:
October 4, 2012
Source:
Karolinska Institutet
Summary:
Can you bite into an apple? If so, you are more likely to maintain mental abilities, according to new research.

Can you bite into an apple? If so, you are more likely to maintain mental abilities.
Credit: © Kzenon / Fotolia

Can you bite into an apple? If so, you are more likely to maintain mental abilities, according to new research from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.

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The population is aging, and the older we become the more likely it is that we risk deterioration of our cognitive functions, such as memory, decision-making and problem solving. 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.

One reason for this could be that few or no teeth makes chewing difficult, which leads to a reduction in the blood flow to the brain. However, to date there has been no direct investigation into the significance of chewing ability in a national representative sample of elderly people.  

Now a team comprised of researchers from the Department of Dental Medicine and the Aging Research Center (ARC) at Karolinska Institutet and from Karlstad University in Sweden have looked at tooth loss, chewing ability and cognitive function in a random nationwide sample of 557 people aged 77 or older. They found that those who had difficulty chewing hard food such as apples had a significantly higher risk of developing cognitive impairments. This correlation remained even when controlling for sex, age, education and mental health problems, variables that are often reported to impact on cognition. Whether chewing ability was sustained with natural teeth or dentures also had no bearing on the effect.

The results are published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (JAGS). The study was financed with grants from several funds, including the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research and the Swedish Research Council.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Karolinska Institutet. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Duangjai Lexomboon, Mats Trulsson, Inger Wårdh & Marti G. Parker. Chewing Ability and Tooth Loss: Association with Cognitive Impairment in an Elderly Population Study. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2012

Cite This Page:

Karolinska Institutet. "Chewing ability linked to reduced dementia risk." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121004093038.htm>.
Karolinska Institutet. (2012, October 4). Chewing ability linked to reduced dementia risk. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121004093038.htm
Karolinska Institutet. "Chewing ability linked to reduced dementia risk." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121004093038.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

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