Worried about Dementia? Chew on It

dentures chewingA few years ago, a team of researchers at Baylor College of Medicine made a discovery that undoubtedly irked parents and teachers around the world. They found that students who chewed gum in math class and while doing their homework had higher scores on math tests than those who didn’t chew gum.

What does that have to do with dementia? Plenty. Apparently, the simple act of chewing increases blood flow to the brain, and people who chew less (in many cases because they have few or no teeth) have correspondingly lower levels of blood flow, and that might increase the risk of developing dementia. Now, new research from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have gone a step further and found that people who have trouble chewing hard foods—including apples—have significantly higher dementia risk.

The researchers, who were from the Department of Dental Medicine and the Aging Research Center at the Institutet found that the connection between chewing ability and brain function was very strong regardless of the subject’s sex, age, education, or whether he or she had mental problems. And in some very g0od news for denture wearers, it didn’t matter whether the chewing was done with natural teeth or dentures.

So next time you’re at the store, be sure to pick up a few packs of gum–if you remember.

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