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Eating more cheese might have a positive impact on aging

Published Jun 19th, 2024 7:37PM EDT
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If you love cheese, you’ll be thrilled about a new study that says eating more of it might improve the way you age. That is, adding more cheese to your diet could be a factor in improving mental health, which, in turn, impacts healthy aging. That’s what researchers from the Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine found after looking at publicly available DNA data from 2.3 million Europeans.

Cheese wasn’t the main factor in improving mental health and healthy aging, but it was a surprising conclusion from the study.

Published in Nature Human Behaviour (via New Atlas), the study found that mental well-being may be the most important aspect of living longer, healthier lives. That’s independent of socioeconomic factors, which would also impact healthy aging.

The researchers analyzed eight datasets covering 2.3 million genetically diverse Europeans. They used a DNA analysis technique called “Mendelian randomization” to see whether one thing causes another. That’s how they discovered that mental health is a key factor for healthy aging.

The researchers examined mental well-being in relation to the genetically independent phenotype of aging (aging-GIP). Specifically, they examined the five common traits of the genetically independent phenotype of aging (aging-GIP): resilience, self-rated health, healthspan, parental lifespan, and longevity.

People with better mental well-being scored better in the aging-GIP traits. The researchers also found that it didn’t matter how rich or poor someone was, even though socioeconomic factors are important to health and aging. But factors like higher wages, better education, and occupation satisfaction did impact mental health.

The study looked at the factors that can impact mental well-being and healthy aging.
The study looked at the factors that can impact mental well-being and healthy aging. Image source: Nature Human Behaviour via New Atlas

The researchers also identified 33 out of 106 factors that can negatively impact well-being and the aging-GIP.

The list includes behavior, lifestyle choices, and medical conditions that can significantly reduce the healthy aging score. TV watching, smoking, and medication use are among the factors that will impact the score. Diseases like heart failure, ADHD, stroke, and other heart issues also lower the healthy aging score.

Here’s where eating cheese comes in. The researchers found that cheese is one of the five key lifestyle mediators, with a 3.67% positive impact on mental well-being the healthy aging factors. The consumption of fruit is also beneficial, though the effect was lower at 1.96%.

If you don’t love cheese, you might start getting reacquainted with it, assuming the study results are accurate. Even without a study, one could easily recommend eating cheese and fruit as part of a healthy diet, as long as other health issues aren’t in the way.

To put things in perspective, watching too much TV had a 7.39% negative impact. I know what you’re thinking: eating more cheese while watching TV could be a good idea. But it’s likely that’s not accurate.

Cheese alone won’t necessarily lead to better mental well-being and healthier aging, no matter how exciting that prospect is. Combining cheese with more fruit and adopting healthier habits, like reducing TV time and smoking, would be even better.

The results of the study might impact future health policies aimed at improving mental well-being and healthy aging. But, as with any type of new research, more studies will be needed to confirm the findings. The study, available in full at this link, only covers data from Europeans.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.