Can you bite into an apple? If the answer is yes, new research claims that you are more likely to maintain your mental abilities.
The older we get, the more we are at risk for deterioration of our cognitive functions, such as memory, decision-making and problem solving, say researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden.
Previous research has indicated several possible reasons for these changes, with several studies demonstrating an association between not having teeth and loss of cognitive function and a higher risk of dementia, the researchers note.
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, the researchers said.
This led the research team from the Department of Odontology and the Aging Research Center (ARC) at Karolinska Institutet and from Karlstad University to look 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, the researchers note.
Whether chewing ability was sustained with natural teeth or dentures had no bearing on the outcome, the researchers note.
The results are published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (JAGS).
Source: Karolinska Institutet