BAEN Café in December 2017: Can nutrition prevent dementia?

January 22, 2018

It seems that nutrition can help to reduce the risk of developing dementia. This is the conclusion of the renowned speakers at the BAEN Café on 7 December 2017. More than 80 guests gathered at the fifth BAEN Café, organized by the Bonn Agricultural and Nutrition Network (BAEN) together with DietBB.

In the context of demographic change and the increasing number of older people in the population, health promotion and prevention are becoming increasingly important. “More than 1.5 million people in Germany are currently affected by dementia and the number will double in the next 40 years”. With these words, moderator Dr. Maike Groeneveld opened the event at the Wissenschaftszentrum Bonn.

DietBB-Cluster spokeswoman Professor Ute Nöthlings started with an overview of meta-analyses from observational studies. "Numerous meta-analyses show a correlation between diet and dementia," she summed up. Particularly the Mediterranean diet seems to possess beneficial effects regarding prevention of dementia. However, as basis for possible dietary recommendations Professor Nöthlings calls for a systematic evaluation of the evidence.

Professor Peter Stehle, nutrition physiologist and Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Bonn, reported on the role of nutrition in brain development at different stages of life. Based on intervention studies, he showed that even the mother's diet during pregnancy is important for the child's brain development. "However, we still know little about the role of nutrition in maintaining cognitive function," he said emphasizing the need for further research.

Professor Stefan Lorkowski of the University of Jena, in his role as Vice-president of the German Nutrition Society (DGE), reported on the development of evidence-based nutritional recommendations. He made it clear that the highest possible level of evidence must be available before a recommendation can be made. Therefore, adherence to the principles of good scientific practice is essential. Systematic reviews of literature take their time and must be carried out without economic or political interests. He emphasized that the nutritional recommendations of the DGE, which are officially valid in Germany, are carefully derived on basis of extensive systematic evaluations of studies. "Through a healthy lifestyle, we can win six to twelve disease-free years." This statement by Professor Lorkowski shows the necessity of scientifically based nutritional recommendations.

Dr. Margareta Büning-Fesel, head of the Federal Center for Nutrition (BZfE) presented the structure and tasks of the BZfE in the field of nutrition communication. The BZfE is primarily concerned with how to change the nutritional behaviour of the population. "People make over 200 food choices a day and generally solve complex tasks with simple rules. That is why people in nutrition communication have to summarize knowledge and communicate the core messages", said the nutritionist.

The BAEN Café closed with a get-together, and interested participants were invited to visit the Deutsches Museum free of charge.


Text: TA6, Dr. Maike Gutmann, DGE