There are 10-100 trillion microbes in the human intestine. 10 times more bacterial cells in intestine than human cells in body meaning: 100 times more bacterial genes than human genes in your body!
Alterations in the gut bacteria are increasingly linked to variations in health including obesity, and inflammatory conditions.
Controlling gut bacteria, for example by dietary modification, offers the prospect of improving health, especially in elderly people.
In recent years, scientists have shown that the large numbers of bacteria that are always carried in the human gut are important for our health. They are involved in extracting energy from our food, making certain vitamins, keeping dangerous bacteria at bay, and even fine-tuning or own defense mechanisms or immune system.
As people age, these beneficial properties of the gut bacteria appear to weaken, and the immune system also slows down. It’s not clear which body defense functions and defense mechanisms are most dependent on gut bacteria; which is what ELDERMET plans to find out!
We are studying the relationship between diet, gut bacteria and health status in a large number of elderly (>65 years) Irish subjects, mainly from the Munster region. We will use the findings to make recommendations for diet and food ingredients, to the benefit of Irish consumers and the Irish food industry.
Knowledge and expertise from ELDERMET are contributing to NU-AGE which is a large multidisciplinary consortium with 30 partners, from 16 EU countries, involving nutritionists, biogerontologists, immunologists and molecular biologists from the most prestigious institutions in Europe. This is a 5 year project which is funded under the Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology Theme of the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development. The NU-AGE project aims to explore how diet can help European seniors to live a healthier, longer life and to design new dietary strategies to address the specific needs of elderly population in Europe.
Prof. Paul O’Toole (ELDERMET lead PI) is work package leader for the following: Cellular and molecular effects of whole diets. The specific objective of this WP is to elucidate the molecular and cellular mechanisms of action of the whole diet on preventing of functional decline in elderly by using advanced immunology, genetic, epigenetic, biochemical as well as ‘omics’ technologies.
For more information on NU-AGE please click on the logo below.
which recently commenced, is a project funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and is a follow on from ELDERMET. The aim of the project is to develop foods and food ingredients to positively influence gut health. The initial focus is on the impact of refined dairy ingredients on the gut microbiota of elderly consumers. ELDERFOOD builds on ELDERMET, which has outlined that altering our diet may promote healthy ageing following changes to the gut microbiota. ELDERFOOD will strengthen scientific and technological expertise in the area with the aim of expanding the range of targeted health-promoting products available to our expanding ageing population. The project is co-ordinated by Prof. Paul O’ Toole (ELDERMET lead PI) and is in collaboration with Prof. Catherine Stanton & Prof. Paul Ross from Teagasc Moorepark (ELDERMET PIs). Please click on the logo for more information on the project.