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.
Taiwan might be China’s next target after it has “walled off” Hong Kong from the rest of the world with its new national security legislation, Academia Sinica Institute of Sociology fellow Wu Jieh-min (吳介民) said on Thursday. At a seminar organized by the Economic Democracy Union, the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, the Hong Kong Outlanders and the Judicial Reform Foundation, Wu said that the legislation is simultaneously a fig leaf concealing Beijing’s autocratic rule in Hong Kong and a figurative “Berlin Wall,” denying democratic countries access to Hong Kong. Wu said it is evident that Taiwan would be China’s next target. The
SAFETY CONCERNS: A construction company working nearby admitted to negligence in the incident, and is to pay a fine and other expenses related to damages Residents of homes adjacent to an alleyway in New Taipei City’s Yonghe District (永和) on Saturday were forced to evacuate their homes after the road collapsed, the New Taipei City government said yesterday. An 80m by 4m area in an alleyway on Wenhua Road (文化路) collapsed at 10:39am near an apartment building construction site where work was being done on the project’s foundation. The incident also ruptured an underground gas pipe and tilted several buildings in the area. Residents would not be able to return to their homes until tomorrow or Wednesday, when repairs are expected to be finished, the city government said. Workers
CHALLENGER DEEP: Lin Ying-Tsong was invited by Caladan Oceanic founder Victor Vescovo to join him on a 10-hour long trip in the company’s submersible Taiwanese-American Lin Ying-Tsong (林穎聰) last month became the first person from Asia and the 12th in human history to dive into the deepest part on Earth, the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench. Lin, 45, an expert in deep sea acoustics with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts, joined US adventurer and Caladan Oceanic founder Victor Vescovo, 54, on June 22 in a descent to the central pool of the Challenger Deep, the deepest point of the trench, which lies at a depth of more than 10,900m. The pair made the descent in a submersible named Limiting Factor, a US$37
ARMS RACE: Two DPP lawmakers said that China’s development model differed from Taiwan’s, as it aims to become a global hegemon, while Taiwan seeks to protect itself Taiwanese national defense experts are split on how Taiwan should respond to the ever-growing budget of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), with some advocating for Taiwan to increase defense spending, while others say that little can be done. The Legislative Yuan approved NT$358 billion (US$12.1 billion) for national defense spending across fiscal 2020, a 3.47 percent increase compared with last year, while China’s military budget this year is NT$5.4 trillion, more than 15 times that of Taiwan. Regardless of whether the government adopts a zero-based budgeting method for national defense spending — in which all expenses are justified and approved each