Raise a glass to the great Cheddar gorge
WELL they never stop surprising us on the food and drink front, do they? In the past few weeks I’ve learned that drinking wine prevents dementia and that cheese is as addictive as morphine.
One of the earliest studies looking at the effect of moderate drinking on dementia was carried out in the Nineties in the US, where 6,000 women, over 65 and living in care homes, were tracked for six years. Those who were regular drinkers – a largish glass of wine a day – obtained some protection from dementia but those who drank more than that actually halved their risk of dementia compared with non-drinkers.
Even more surprising was a three-year German study, which concluded – after following 3,200 over-75s in 2011 – that the abstainers had a much higher risk of dementia than the boozers.
As a Sunday school pupil at a Baptist church in Birmingham I somehow found myself joining the Band of Hope, where I was persuaded to sign The Pledge. Unknown to my parents, I pledged never to touch a drop of the demon drink. Ever. Luckily it wasn’t a legal, binding contract and now I can rejoice in the fact that the odd glass is going to prevent me from losing my mind. If it all goes a bit wrong and I do eventually get dementia, I won’t remember the wine theory anyway. Or the Band of Hope. So …‘Fromage’, as a French friend used to say, as he thought that the English toasted people by saying ‘Cheese’ as we clinked our glasses, rather than ‘Cheers’. We never told him his mistake for ages because it made us laugh. Now we always say it too. Which leads me nicely to news of a second opiate. Dr Neal Barnard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, told us last month that cheese is addictive because it contains a string of amino acids which remain intact through the digestive system and release morphine-like compounds. In the results of his research on addiction he even calls cheese, ‘dairy crack’. Ha. So, I’m stocking up on dry white feta and red Leicester, ready to float into a happy old age, high on cheese, And, courtesy of much wine drinking, with all my faculties intact.