New research in memory loss and aging could really offer something to chew on. Researchers have found that losing our ability to chew food as we age is linked to a reduction in brain function. This link is not yet fully understood but potentially quite important because it could lead to new treatments and preventative therapies for dementia in the future.
After feeding lab mice powdered food to stop them from chewing, researchers found that less mastication meant the growth of the maxillofacial bone and muscle were suppressed. Behavioural experiments done with the same mice revealed that in the hippocampus - a part of the brain responsible for memory - synapse formation and expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factors were reduced, demonstrating that less chewing function had impaired memory and learning functions in the mice.
Researchers are hoping to further understand the link between chewing and brain function as we age. For now, if anyone tells you chewing gum is rude, just tell them you’re brain training.