CSU hosts conference on assessing diet and its effect on brain health

People often diet and exercise to lose weight and stay fit, but many don’t realize that doing those things can also keep their brains healthy.

A conference being held at Colorado State University in May will feature experts discussing that issue and others, such as how to improve dietary assessment.

The 37th Annual Lillian Fountain Smith Nutrition Conference, sponsored by the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, will bring experts from around the nation to discuss these topics with nutrition professionals May 19-20 at the Hilton Fort Collins. The early-bird registration deadline for the conference is April 1.

Our dietary habits can reveal important influences on long-term health, but capturing that information accurately can be a challenge. For instance, when self-reporting one’s daily diet, there may be a tendency to “fudge” a bit, omitting details about sweets we had or the actual serving size of the pasta dish we ate. Improving dietary assessment could help our understanding of many age-related processes — for example, what foods and daily habits affect brain health and how physical activity and diet in younger years influence brain function in later years.

The May 19 opening session will focus on dietary assessment with Susan Krebs-Smith, chief of the U.S. National Cancer Institute’s Risk Factor Assessment Branch, who will discuss concerns related to assessment of diets. Brenda Davy, professor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Exercise at Virginia Tech, will discuss practical, evidence-based approaches of dietary assessment. Completing the morning session, Corby Martin, associate professor at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University, will share the strategy of using photography to quantify food intake.

The afternoon session on May 19 will include Douglas Seals, professor in the Department of Integrative Physiology at the University of Colorado, who will discuss the role of exercise, diet and healthy lifestyle in mimicking nutraceuticals on physiological aging. Agnieszka (Aga) Burzynska, assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at CSU, will offer a presentation on “Healthy Brain in a Healthy Body.”

The May 20 session will begin with Kathleen Welsh-Bohmer of the Bryan Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Duke University, who will present “Preventing Cognitive Impairment and Dementia — Translating Epidemiological Findings into Public Health Action.” This will be followed by Martha Clare Morris, professor of epidemiology and director of the Section of Nutrition and Nutritional Epidemiology in the Department of Internal Medicine at Rush University, who will share information about the "MIND" diet, developed to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline. The session will finish with a presentation by Barbara Skukitt-Hale, research psychologist with the Neuroscience and Aging Laboratory in the Human Nutrition Center on Aging at Tufts University, discussing the effects of berry fruits on cognition and motor function in aging.

Other conference activities include an afternoon reception on May 19 for all conference attendees in The Agave Room at Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant on Mountain Avenue and a morning poster session on May 20 featuring research by faculty and students in CSU’s Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition.

The annual Lillian Fountain Smith Conference honors Mrs. Smith, a 1918 graduate in home economics from Colorado State University (then Colorado A&M), and is sustained by the Lillian Fountain Smith Conference Endowment, established by Mr. and Mrs. Smith and their children.

To register for the conference, visit www.fshn.chhs.colostate.edu/outreach/lfs/ or call (970) 491-7334. Attendees will be eligible to receive nine continuing education units.

The Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition is in the College of Health and Human Sciences at CSU.