Raise a glass to the great Ched­dar gorge

Harefield Gazette - - OPINION -

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.

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