ELDERMET – Enhancing gut health in older Irish people through an improved understanding of intestinal bacteria

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Introduction

ELDERMET http://eldermet.ucc.ie is a landmark project investigating the association between gut microbiota, food and health in the elderly in Ireland. We established that habitual diet controls the population of gut bacteria, which in turn impact on health. Now that the connection between diet, gut bacteria and health has been established by ELDERMET, the knowledge gained is being used to try to influence the foods eaten by older people, and to also promote health by shaping the design of new foods and food ingredients produced specifically for the older age-group. Further practical outcomes such as improved quality of life and new microbiota-based diagnostics for illness and disease highlight the significance and potential impact of ELDERMET. These outcomes will maintain the Irish healthcare system and food industry at the forefront of scientific excellence for understanding diet-health interactions. It aims to provide answers to questions surrounding the role of microbiota in health.

Current Status

Although the original ELDERMET study is in its final year of funding from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) and the Health Research Board (HRB), the ELDERMET project will continue and be expanded as part of the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre research under the theme ‘Diet and Microbes at the Extremes of Life’. We will continue to build our database of diet-microbiota-health relationships including identification of potential biomarkers for healthy ageing as a point-of-care diagnostic. The aim is to provide recommendations to all stakeholders (the public, health practitioners, food industry) on how to improve health based on defined modifications to dietary intake by the end of the project and to commence clinical and dietary intervention trials to further develop the research.

 

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Contact

Dr Paul O’Toole : pwotoole@ucc.ie

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Partnerships

ELDERMET is in partnership with UCC’s Centre for Gerontology and Rehabilitation, the SENATOR Project, Teagasc, the Irish Health Service Executive and multiple international centres : http://eldermet.ucc.ie/partners/

Future Plans

The valuable data gathered in ELDERMET has potential to develop into a reference centre with UCC partners in the area of dietary aspects of healthy aging. The vision is to turn our existing knowledge into real solutions to improve healthy ageing through further collaborations which will inform and lead to the development of functional food. The data can also inform dietary guidelines for older people.

Funding

ELDERMET has been funded by the Government of Ireland through DAFM and HRB through the Food-Health Research Initiative to the end of 2013. The project  is embedded in the research activities of the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre which receives investment from Science Foundation Ireland. The ELDERMET research will continue to expand within the APC through this source of funding.

 

 

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