Our human studies are focused on older adults with common chronic diseases who could benefit from specific nutritional support. These diseases include cancer, chronic heart failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). As muscle loss is commonly associated with these conditions, it is very important to develop nutritional strategies that can prevent this, and that will improve well-being, treatment outcomes, and quality of life.

Our aims are related to understanding metabolic changes leading to muscle loss and how we can target these alterations by nutritional interventions and exercise. We primarily test the effect of dietary proteins as they are the building blocks of muscle. In addition, we find it important to translate these effects to functional measures of muscle, such as lower and upper body muscle strength and endurance.

Renate Jonker, a CTRAL scientist, has received an ESPEN Research Fellowship grant to study the effects of fish oil supplementation and dietary proteins on stimulating muscle growth in older adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

More and more research shows that older adults with COPD do not only have local inflammation in the lungs but also have systemic inflammation throughout the rest of the body. This systemic inflammation could lead to muscle loss and negatively affect the overall condition of these adults, and reduce their quality of life. Fish oil, known for its anti-inflammatory properties could therefore, in combination with protein supplementation, be an important dietary strategy to prevent muscle loss. Therefore, we test the acute effects of a protein meal before and after 4 weeks of fish oil supplementation.

If you would like to participate in one of our studies, click here for more information.