SOLARBIOME: A novel food product harnessing the Mediterranean Diet to promote healthy aging by maintaining the gut microbiome
This project has received funding from the Science Foundation Ireland.
People live longer lives than ever but extending health and delaying frailty is still a major challenge. Environmental factors like diet, lifestyle and social structure have a major impact on healthy aging. The gut microbiome transforms some food ingredients into beneficial compounds, repels gut pathogens, and reduces excessive immune activity (inflammation). We recently showed that changes in the gut microbiome accompanying aging can be prevented by a Mediterranean diet (MedDiet), slowing frailty onset as measured by cognitive function, memory, gait speed, hang-grip strength, and inflammation. Consuming a MedDiet is challenging especially for older people because of ingredient availability, product shelf-life, unit purchase size, cost, and meal preparation. Buying large quantities of multiple meal ingredients by older people often leads to food waste. We will develop a novel minimally processed food product that will combine key ingredients of the MedDiet that sustain gut microbes that promote health. Our team of a leading microbiologist, a food science expert and a gerontologist championing national initiatives in targeting dementia will ensure that we successfully develop the concept, test it in the lab, and then conduct dietary trails to improve health and cognitive function in older people, with improving vaccination response also possible.