The INFANTMET project focuses on defining the composition and function of the microbiota of exclusively breast-fed infants using state-of-the-art sequencing technology. It will provide information to allow for the optimisation of infant formulae that will best support development of the ‘Gold Standard’ breast-fed microbiota composition for neonates.
INFANTMET aims to address the following research questions:
People are living longer. Rising living standards, improved lifestyle and better education, as well as greater access to quality healthcare services has meant that we can expect to reach 78 years of age, an increase of six years compared to the 1980s. However, data also shows that Europeans live to just over 60 years without being limited in their day-to-day activities by ill-health or disabilities. This is a challenge. As a growing proportion of people in the European population are over 65 – predicted to reach 40% by 2030 – preventing age-related disease will also reduce associated medical and social costs. Many factors – both biological and environmental – play a role in ageing. Diet is one such factor and scientific opinion today is that by carefully selecting our diet we can affect the ageing process.
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
The influence of diet on age-related conditions is a relatively unexplored area of research and it is unclear as to what the optimal diet would be. What we do know, however, is that the food we eat can influence the development of inflammation. This is important because inflammation associated with ageing has been shown to be one factor in the development of age-related diseases such as atherosclerosis (thickening of artery walls and a risk factor for heart disease), type 2 diabetes and neurodegeneration leading to cognitive decline.
The 5-year NU-AGE project will start by designing a new food pyramid for those over 65 years old. This will be developed from food based dietary guidelines used in Europe, illustrating the proportions of different foods that should be included in a balanced diet. The NU-AGE 65+ food pyramid will be designed to meet the nutritional needs of the elderly by emphasising nutrient-density, water, dietary fibre, vitamin D and vitamin B12. To study the effects of the NU-AGE food pyramid on health and ageing factors, seniors across Europe will receive advice, fortified foods and other support to adjust their diets to match the pyramid. Food intake data, blood, urine and other samples will be collected and the results will be compared to those of elderly citizens not taking part in the dietary intervention. Alongside the dietary intervention, socio-economic determinants for food choice in the elderly will be investigated.
Based on the knowledge gained about influences of diet on ageing and its potential to prevent age-related disease, foods designed especially for elderly consumers will be developed and the best ways to communicate dietary recommendations to those over 65 will be explored. NU-AGE is a multidisciplinary consortium consisting of 30 partners from 16 EU countries. Involved are research institutes across Europe, large food industries, traditional food companies, one biotech SME and associations of the European food and drink industry. Representing University College Cork, Prof. Paul O’Toole (Department of Microbiology and Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre; APC) and Prof. Kevin Cashman (School of Food and Nutritional Sciences) will have significant contributions to the NuAge consortium.
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.