Welcome to the NUTRIMAL project blog!

The NUTRIMAL project is a nutrition and healthy aging research project that is currently ongoing in University College Dublin. It is investigating whether a food-based nutritional supplement can improve muscle mass and strength in men and women aged 65 and over who have low muscle mass and/or strength.

The Blog

Many of us hear about the results of research studies on the TV or in the newspaper, but what is actually involved in arriving at that research finding? The purpose of this blog is to take you with us through the highs and lows of the research journey from start to finish and to provide a unique insight into what goes on behind the scenes in a human research project! We will then take you along with us every step of the way – from recruiting the participants right through to publishing our research results. This blog may be of interest to NUTRIMAL participants, to anyone thinking about participating in a research study or pursuing a career in research, or to anyone interested in science, nutrition and healthy aging. Conducting a research study is never straight forward so no doubt we will encounter some bumps and barriers along the way…but that’s all part of the adventure 🙂

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25 thoughts on “Welcome to the NUTRIMAL project blog!

  1. I would be interested in participating:
    I am 72 years old.
    I had Prostate surgery 4 months ago. I am diagnosed as free of Cancer.
    I am physically very fit for my age but I have temporarily lost over a stone from my normal long-term weight.

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  2. Hi Caoileann,

    I heard about your study on Newstalk and I have a few questions I’ve been meaning to ask. I see Glanbia are on board as sponsors, have you any concerns that having an industry sponsor will effect the trial outcomes, especially when their main product is the study variable? Secondly, I see Glanbia make plant-based milks, have you any plans to introduce one of these as a variable? From a sustainability point of view this would surely be of interest? Thirdly, I see you are going to follow the participants for 6 months only. Have you any concerns about studies such as Mikaelson et al (BMJ 2014) that suggest that osteoporosis, hip fractures and all cause mortality are correlated with dairy consumption at ten years followup?

    Thanks so much for your time,

    Sean

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    • Hi Sean,
      Thanks for your comments!
      1. Yes Glanbia are collaborators on the project however this will most certainly not effect the study outcomes. Glanbia’s involvement came about when we in UCD were putting our heads together to come up with a nutritional product we thought had the potential to benefit muscle in older adults. Previous research has shown that the amino acid leucine (naturally found is protein from food) has a key role as a “trigger” for muscle building. We also know from the previous research that older adults are less sensitive to leucine than younger ones (and this is thought to be one of the contributing factors in muscle loss with age). As such, we wanted to add extra leucine to our drinks to make them more effective. However, there was a problem…leucine tends to be bitter and difficult to dissolve (which doesn’t make for particularly tasty drinks!) We did our research and found out that Glanbia have a leucine-rich product (Pepform) that actually tastes pretty good when you put it in the drinks. So, we called them up and asked if they would be interested in donating some Pepform to the study and they agreed. We have mixed the Glanbia product with a number of other ingredients (such as fish oil provided by Smartfish) to produce a drink which is not commercially available. The results of the study are owned by UCD and we will have an obligation to the primary funders of this study (Department of Ag) to publish our findings. Moreover, this is a double-blind trial (i.e. neither myself, the other staff working on the project or the participants know which drink is which). It will not be until after I have completed all of the analyses and I have finalised the results when I find out which drink is which. Therefore, it will not be possible for the results to be influenced (even subconsciously!) by knowing which drinks contain the Glanbia product.

      2. I completely agree! Plant-based proteins are incredibly interesting from a sustainability point of view and we don’t know very much about their effects on muscle. Unfortunately it will not be feasible to look at plant-based proteins in the current NUTRIMAL project but it certainly represents a very relevant avenue for future research projects.

      3. Bone takes longer to change in response to nutrition compared to muscle. Therefore bone studies are usually conducted for longer time periods than those investigating muscle (like the NUTRIMAL project). It is possible that 6 months may be too short a time period to observe an improvement in muscle mass and strength with our nutritional drinks. However, if we had extended the supplementation period then compliance with the supplements may have waned and it would have made the study even more expensive to conduct. As such, we judged that 6 months was realistic and is in line with (or longer than) many previous research studies showing beneficial effects of nutrition interventions on muscle in older adults (i.e. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26170041 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25994567).

      Thanks again for your questions!

      Caoileann

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