Red Wine and Cheese: Powerful Brain Foods You Can Get Behind
Ready your corkscrew and cheese knife. People who indulge in red wine and cheese daily are better able to think logically and problem-solve. According to a 10-year Iowa State University study, these are two skills that worsen as you age.
Researchers from Iowa State University tracked 1,789 people over a 10-year period and found that those who ate cheese and drank red wine daily had higher scores on something called fluid intelligence tests. “Fluid intelligence is a measure of cognitive function that’s largely based on being able to think logically and problem solve—something that’s particularly susceptible to age,” says study co-author Brandon Klinedinst.
The study looked at foods in the context of a person’s whole diet—a more realistic approach than some of the lab-based food studies of the past. And while researchers did not explore the specific mechanisms by which wine and cheese improved brain health, other studies have found that a compound in red wine called resveratrol activates chemical pathways that limit stress on brain cells, and certain compounds in cheese have properties that likewise lower inflammation in the brain, leading to improved cognitive performance. Not much for daily drinking? There are plenty of other ways to kick your mental machinery in gear:
- If you smoke, quit: Your risk of dementia nearly doubles if you’re a half-pack (or more) a day guy.
- Get sleep: Coming in under the recommended seven-hour minimum sets you up for trouble. In fact, one study found a night of sleep deprivation was the equivalent to driving drunk in terms of slowed reaction time and impaired thinking.
- Move it: Exercise of any sort, but especially cardio, stimulates the growth of new brain cells—and connections between those cells—even as you get older.
- Meditate: Yeah, it sounds wishy-washy, but the science is real. People who regularly meditate have larger numbers of gyrification or “folding” of the brain’s cortex, allowing you to think faster and more efficiently.