Local researchers have confirmed that chewing can prevent brain degeneration, suggesting that Taiwan, on track to become a super-aged society by 2025, should focus more on oral healthcare to prevent dementia.
The Taiwan Advanced Cultural Association held a news conference on Tuesday to promote chewing and swallowing as a means for preventing dementia.
Hsu Ming-lun (許明倫), dean of Yang-Ming University’s School of Dentistry, led the study into the association between gray matter in the brain and chewing ability.
The team’s findings won them the first prize in a poster competition held last year by the International Association for Dental Research.
Young people chew and swallow instinctively — as they rely more on the cerebellum when chewing, enabling them to eat and talk without thinking — but eating for older people requires thinking — as they rely more on the cerebrum, with chewing transpiring at a slower rate and talking while eating can even cause them to choke or get aspiration pneumonia, Hsu said.
With aging comes declines in brain cells and damage to gray matter, both of which lead to cognitive impairment and memory loss, he added.
The team studied people aged 65 and older, assessing their chewing ability by determining the arrangement of their teeth and the force of their bites, as measured by a machine.
They used functional magnetic resonance imaging to compare the subjects’ gray matter volume and distribution and found that the better the subject chewed, the less their brain degenerated.
Another experiment done by the team supported the results: Two groups of rats — one fed liquid food and the other solid food — showed a 40 percent difference in cognitive function over six weeks.
A common disease among those who are aging, sarcopenia — loss of skeletal muscle mass, quality and strength — highlights the importance of training the muscles needed for chewing and swallowing, Hsu said.
While nuts are healthy for older people, most are too hard for them to chew, so giving older people walnuts, which are softer, is an ideal alternative, he said.
Sugar-free gum and oral exercises benefit oral health, too, Hsu added.
“While Taiwan has become the world leader in national healthcare and hepatitis B prevention, we should also strive to be the leader in oral healthcare,” said Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), who also attended the news conference.
Dementia and disability are preventable diseases, so older people can maintain an active and healthy lifestyle by taking proper healthcare measures, Chen added.
UNDER WATCH: Taiwan will have to establish a standardized nucleic acid testing method to identify the virus and monitor its spread, the CDC said The Langya henipavirus, which can be transmitted from animals to humans, has been discovered in China, with 35 human infections reported so far, Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said, adding that the nation would establish a nucleic acid testing method to identify the virus. A study titled “A Zoonotic Henipavirus in Febrile Patients in China” that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday said that a new henipavirus associated with a fever-causing human illness was identified in China. The study said an investigation identified 35 patients with acute infection of the Langya henipavirus in China’s Shandong
MISSILE PATHS: Certain information on the Chinese missile fire was not disclosed to maintain secrecy over military intelligence-gathering capabilities, the MND said Military experts yesterday speculated on the implication of the government’s tight-lipped response and the lack of air-raid sirens during the first day of China’s military drills the previous day. On Thursday, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) launched 11 Dongfeng-series ballistic missiles into waters north, east and south of Taiwan, a day after US House of Representative Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s departure from the country, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said. The Japanese Ministry of Defense said that China fired nine missiles toward Taiwan, including four that flew over Taiwan proper. However, China’s exhibition of force failed to terrorize the local populace, because
If any war were to break out between the US and China, one trigger might be the increasingly frequent fighter jet encounters near Taiwan. Almost every day, Taiwanese fighter pilots hop in their US-made F-16s to intercept Chinese warplanes screaming past their territory. The encounters probe the nation’s defenses and force the pilots on both sides to avoid mistakes that could lead to a crisis that spins out of control. “I didn’t know whether they would fire at me,” said retired colonel Mountain Wang, recounting a tense five-minute confrontation he had with Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) jets more than a decade
INCREASINGLY EMBOLDENED: China can no longer be dismissed as inexperienced, demonstrating an ability to coordinate land and sea missile systems, an expert said Beijing’s largest-ever exercises around Taiwan have offered essential clues into its plans for a grueling blockade in the event of an attack on Taiwan, and revealed an increasingly emboldened Chinese military, experts said. The visit to Taiwan by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi — second in line to the presidency — sparked outrage from Beijing, which launched vast military maneuvers around the nation, even at the risk of partially exposing its plans to the US and its Asian allies. Mobilizing fighter planes, helicopters and warships, the drills aim to simulate a blockade of Taiwan and include practicing an “attack on