Dementia:What do Running and Chewing your food have to do with it?

Dementia and memory loss concern everyone.  

With an ageing population it affects more humans than ever before.  So, can we really do anything to generate new brain cells and possibly slow down the onset of dementia?

Each Sunday afternoon, for as long as I can remember my late Mother in her reclining Parkernoll chair sipping a small glass of red wine while she watched the latest Columbo or Murder she wrote episode.  

Now my mother seemed to think that this one glass was good for her heart but also hoped it would keep her memory intact.  

Red wine as you know contains ethanol which most definitely kills brain cells and affects how are nerves grow and transmit messages.  

As it contains Resveratrol a well-known Antioxidant it does have the tiny potential to protect brain cells; however, it is debated whether this outweighs the heavy burden of alcohol content.

So if red wine cannot help us, what can?  

Well it's all in the title.  Exercise, yes running increases the regeneration of brain cells, eating salmon or mackerel and making sure you chew it for as long as you can also increases regeneration of neuronal cells.

So when your mother said chew your food there was a reason- other than choking of course!

The TED talk below was an eye-opener to me.  As medical doctor, I had no idea we were making brain cells even as we age; I thought they were dying after our 30's or maybe our 40's or whenever the ageing process began!

So have a watch, then get yourself outside for a walk or a cycle to buy some fish which you just have to chew very well!


Resveratrol has become the famous 'polyphenol'  found in high concentrations in pinot noir red wines and in some grape juices.  It is one of three flavanoids in red wine that have been shown to reduce BP, risk of heart disease and even improve memory.

In the early 1990's a group of scientists were wondering why French men and women who eat lots of red meat, had a diet high in saturated fats (cheese and fatty meats) had lower incidence of heart disease than similar populations in the united states. The only difference that could be found was the consumption of red wine. And so began a the race to find out what was it in red wine that could explain this health benefit.

It is often referred to as the "french Paradox"  But, although this wonderful beverage may seem a preventative medicinal tipple for every disease, it still contains ethanol which is toxic to the human body including brain cells.  Sorry to be the bearer of such harsh news.  So, resveratrol can improve the growth of brain( neurogensis) but ethanol can halt it.

To read more about anti-oxidants have look at the section on polyphenols