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28 November 2014 - Healthy Ageing, Cognitive Decline and Dementia: The Role of Nutrition and Diet

Old couple - Photo by Tristan Le from Pexels, CC0 public domain.jpgORGANISED BY FOOD AND BEHAVIOUR RESEARCH

Start Date: 28 November 2014

End Date: 28 November 2014

Duration 9.20 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.

Location Park End Street, Oxford OX1 1HP

Venue Saïd Business School

File Download:

Download Conference Flyer here (542.49 KB)

Second File Download:

Download Conference Programme here (542.49 KB)

Thank you to the delegates, speakers and volunteers who together made this event another memorable, interactive and knowledge - filled occasion! 

Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia already pose unprecedented challenges to health and social service provision in the UK and other developed countries, let alone to the affected individuals and their families. These problems are predicted to increase further, along with the rising proportion of older adults in our population, for many years to come.

Prevention is key

There are no cures for dementia, and none in the pipeline. Some drug treatments can help manage symptoms, but by the time these appear, the underlying disease processes have already been going on for many years.

Age-related cognitive decline – is it inevitable?

Most people assume that cognitive decline and dementia, along with other chronic, degenerative diseases, are only to be expected now that we are ‘living longer than ever before.’ But are we really?

Compared with 1900 (which was a low spot in our history) the answer is yes. But going further back, the data tell a very different story.

• In fact, evidence from the mid-Victorian period (1840-1870) shows that life expectancy then was very similar to what it is the UK today.

• But unlike us, the mid Victorians had extremely low rates of dementia (and of physical degenerative diseases like heart disease and stroke, diabetes and cancers).

So the rise in these ‘age-related’ conditions is the result of changes to our diets and lifestyles (NOT our genes – although those certainly help to explain individual differences in vulnerability)

Dietary Factors in Dementia

So what aspects of the mid-Victorians’ diets and lifestyles were so protective?

Several different factors can be identified – and each will be discussed in detail at an upcoming conference in Oxford, where leading international experts will be presenting the latest research, and explaining its practical implications.

1) Very low intakes of sugar (and ‘refined carbs’)

2) The right balance of dietary fats

3) High intakes of fresh vegetables, fruits and wholegrains – providing essential nutrients and dietary fibre

Other factors known to be important in preventing age-related cognitive decline and dementia will also be discussed. These include:

- Exercise (essential for brain as well as bodily health)
- Education, and an openness to lifelong learning (which builds ‘cognitive reserves’)
- Social support from family, friends and community


Welcome and Chair’s Introduction,
Professor Michael Crawford (Emeritus Professor, Imperial College, London)

The Role of Diet in Healthy Ageing and Dementia: An Overview
Dr Alex Richardson (Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Evidence Based Intervention, University of Oxford; and Founder Director, FAB Research)

Nutrition and Brain Ageing: Lessons from the mid-Victorians
Dr Paul Clayton (Senior Research Fellow at the University of Pecs, Hungary; and Institute for Food Brain and Behaviour, UK )

Omega-3 fatty acids and Age-Related Cognitive Decline, 
Greg Weatherhead (Senior Scientific Officer, Efamol UK)

Alzheimers’ Disease and other forms of Dementia – Why Nutrition Matters, 
Dr Roger Bullock (Retired NHS Consultant in Old Age Psychiatry; and Research Associate, University of Bristol)

Omega-3 Fats, Balance and Age-related Frailty – Neuroscientific and Clinical Findings
Dr Simon Dyall (Senior Lecturer, University of Roehampton)

B Vitamins, Brain Shrinkage and Cognitive Decline: The OPTIMA and VITACOG studies
Fredrik Jernerén & Professor David Smith (Dept of Pharmacology, University of Oxford)

What’s the evidence that fruits and vegetables can prevent cognitive decline in ageing?  
Dr Daniel Lamport(Research Fellow in Cognition, Nutrition and Health, University of Reading)

Healthy Eating to Stay Smart – Creation of an ‘anti-dementia’ cookbook, 
Patsy Westcott MSc, Katie Sharpe RD, Vanessa Ridland RD,  and Professor Margaret Rayman (University of Surrey)