A common additive in Chinese food could help to boost the memory in dementia patients. That’s according to scientists at Tottori University in Japan, where tests were conducted on 200 people battling the condition.
They found that the monosodium glutamate (MSG) in dishes like sweet and sour prawns and chicken chow mein could actually have health benefits. It comes after years of concerns about negative impacts of the flavour enhancer.
Participants in the study were split into two groups - those who consume MSG and those who don’t - and then underwent tests on their memory. The MSG-eating subjects were found to be able to recall more words and were better at telling the time, reports The Sun.
The summary of the findings said that “it seems MSG may activate the hippocampus and improve memory,” although the scientists have not yet been able to explain why. One theory, however, is that because MSG helps with the absorption of zinc, it repairs damaged brain cells.
Researchers all over the world are looking into ways of tackling dementia, as it is a huge problem that is only getting worse with an ageing population. In the UK alone, 850,000 people are living with dementia, while in the US the figure for Alzheimer’s, the most common form of the condition, stands at 5.5 million.
There is currently no cure for dementia, but it is widely agreed that an early diagnosis helps to improve the chances of slowing its progression. Lifestyle choices, such as eating healthily and doing plenty of exercise are considered the best preventative measures against the disease.
It may therefore be a surprise for many to see that Chinese takeaways are being explored as an option to improve memory. This has come from just one study, however, and the levels of fat and other elements of the dishes should not be totally discounted when meals are being selected.