Nutrition and Ageing - showcasing European Research projects

November 30, 2004

Brussels, 29 November 2004

LIPIDIET: preventing Alzheimer’s disease through the diet

Diet is already associated with the development of cardiovascular disease. Now the LIPIDIET research project provides data pointing to a similar link with Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia affects one person in 20 over the age of 65 and one person in five over the age of 80. Alzheimer’s disease, whose cause is not fully understood, is the most common form of dementia, making up 55 per cent of all cases. High fat diet is already associated with the development of cardiovascular disease and recently has been identified as a risk factor in Alzheimer's disease too. Research on Alzheimer's disease, which is normally treated with drugs, has demonstrated the importance of specific lipid (fat) intake in the prevention of this disease. Now LIPIDIET is providing data that indicates the potential of certain dietary lipids in preventing Alzheimer's disease.

Project coordinator: Dr. Tobias Hartmann, Centre for Molecular Biology Heidelberg (ZMBH), University of Heidelberg, Germany.

Other countries involved: the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Israel, The Netherlands and Switzerland.

EU funding: €2.2 million


OPTIFORD: Can fortified foods or supplements have an impact on bone health?

Having confirmed links between solar exposure, vitamin D intake and bone health, the OPTIFORD project is assessing how varying lifestyles and environments across Europe will affect health recommendations, for both younger and older populations. It is also examining if food fortification with vitamin D can really increase the amount of this vitamin in our body and at the same time be accepted by consumers.

Every 30 seconds someone in the EU suffers a fracture as a result of osteoporosis. In particular, the number of hip fractures, due to osteoporosis, is estimated to increase from 414,000 to 972,000 by the year 2050, representing an increase of 135%. Vitamin D plays an important role in the incorporation of calcium in bones, which is an essential component affecting mechanical strength. Consequently, vitamin D deficiency is an important risk factor for hip fracture. The elderly, together with immigrants and children, are the population groups at highest risk of vitamin D deficiency.

As few foods contain substantial amounts of vitamin D, OPTIFORD investigated the possibility of adding vitamin D to bread. The preliminary results show that this could be feasible.

Project coordinator: Rikke Andersen, M.Sc., Department of Nutrition, Danish Institute of Food and Veterinary Research, Söborg, Denmark.

Other countries involved: Denmark (two partners), Finland, Ireland, Poland and Spain.

EU funding: €1.75 million


CROWNALIFE: Special functional foods for the elderly

The CROWNALIFE project reveals that the bacteria present in the gut of the elderly diverge from that of early life. The colon and its microbiota play an important role in maintaining good health. The gut contains a very complex consortium of micro-organisms composed of hundreds of different species of bacteria. Specific foods' ingredients called prebiotics (undigested in the upper part of the gut) and probiotics (made of microorganisms such as bifidobacteria or lactobacilli), currently represent the largest segment of the functional foods market in Europe and Japan. Functional foods are those foods that improve the state of health and well being and/or reduce the risk of disease. More and more health benefits associated with specific pre- or probiotics are scientifically substantiated. The focus of CROWNALIFE is on preventive nutrition and the application of functional food to engender health benefits for the European elderly population. In particular, new concepts and prototype functional foods specifically adapted for health benefits to the elderly population can be envisaged.

Project coordinator: Dr. Joël Doré, Unit of Ecology and Physiology of the Digestive System, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), Jouy-en-Josas, France.

Other countries involved: Belgium, France (two partners), Germany, Italy, Sweden and the United Kingdom (2 partners).

EU funding: €1.82 million


Item source: MEMO/04/7 Date: 29/11/2004

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