Neuro-protective effects of dates, figs discussed


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Muscat: At the first international workshop on Food, Alzheimer's disease and other neuro cognitive diseases held at the Sultan Qaboos University Wednesday researchers from Oman turned the spotlight on neuroprotective effects of locally grown products.

The workshop was held under the auspices of the Food Science and Nutrition Department at the College of Agricultural and Marine Sciences at the SQU, in association with the SQU Hospital and the Ageing & Dementia Research Group (ADRG) at the SQU.

The one day workshop, which was held to mark the World Alzheimer's Day, shed light on the current topics in nutrition, role of food in human brain health with special reference to the situation in the Sultanate. As many as 200 experts and students from the Sultanate of Oman and abroad participated in the workshop.

Support from TRC
Dr. Mohamed Essa, assistant professor in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at the SQU, and the Head of the ADRG, said that the event was supported by a research grant from The Research Council (TRC), Oman, studying the effect of dietary supplementation of fruits grown in Oman on Alzheimer's, Dementia, Mild Cognitive Impairment and Traumatic Brain Injury.

"Five noted international speakers and several local experts presented papers on various topics related to food and brain health; and current status of neurological diseases in the Sultanate, respectively," he said.

Prof. Gilles Guillemin from the Macquarie University, Australia elaborated on the neuro-protective effects of certain natural compounds such as green tea, curcumin and pomegranate extracts that may lead to new therapeutic strategies to treat neurodegenerative diseases.

Cellular Complexities
Prof. Lawrence Rajendran from the University of Zurich, Switzerland elaborated on the cellular complexities underlying the Alzheimer's Disease.
Dr. Mohammed Akbar from the National Institute of Health, USA, spoke on the role of Omega 3 fatty acids in the brain and their signaling mechanisms.

Stress on Nutritional Screening
Speaking on the impact of cognitive impairment of nutritional status in the elderly, Ghazi Dradkeh from the Food Science Department, SQU, laid stress on the importance of nutritional screening, assessment and early intervention for safeguarding further deterioration in the elderly who are likely to suffer from cognitive impairment.

Dr. Ammar Al Obaidy from the College of Medicine & Health Sciences at the SQU presented data on the prevalence of neurocognitive disorders in Oman and discussed the current research projects and population awareness activities in this area.

Neroprotective qualities of dates and fig
Amjaad Al Ghammari from the Ministry of Health, Oman, spoke about her research work investigating the antimyloidogenic effects of two date farm fruit varieties, Naghal and A'seedi. She said that further studies are required to proceed towards possible development of new therapeutic drugs from these date fruits that might be helpful in preventing the Alzheimer's disease.

Ahood Al Jabri, a student from the Food Science & Nutrition, gave an overview of her research on the effect of Omani figs on AD. "Dietary supplementation with figs may have a beneficial effect in reducing the risk, delaying the onset or slowing the progression of AD.

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