School of Population Health

Baby boomers sought for the FAITH healthy ageing microbiome trial by UNSW researchers

Faith Healthy Ageing Supplements

Healthy ageing and microbiome researchers are seeking more than 150 Sydney-based older adults, aged 60-70 years, for a trial testing whether taking dietary supplements can help improve frailty and inflammation.

The Frailty, Ageing and Inflammation Trial for Health (FAITH) is being led by the School of Population Health at UNSW Sydney, Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA), and the Microbiome Research Centre (MRC), St George & Sutherland Clinical School.

Like many countries, Australia has an ageing population and the number and proportion of older Australians is only expected to continue to grow. By 2057, it is projected there will be 8.8 million older people in Australia, representing 22% of the population.

The reports “Poor diet” (2019) and “Nutrition across the life stages” (2018), published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), confirmed that older Australians are not meeting Australian Dietary Guidelines.

Data from various health surveys over the last ten years have demonstrated that on average Australian older adults over the age of 70 do not meet the recommended daily serves of 4 out of 5 food groups and may be missing key nutrients.

Meeting dietary guidelines can become more challenging with ageing and in particular lower fruit, vegetable and fibre intakes are observed, which leads to a reduction in the production of beneficial short chain fatty acids. Short chain fatty acids are important in influencing the microbiome. In the absence of these fatty acids, the body is unable to dampen down inflammation, which may promote the onset of age-related illnesses.

“Diet plays a fundamental role in shaping the gut microbiome, and diet and nutritional status are among the most important, modifiable determinants of human health. It is exciting that we are starting to understand the links between brain, body and gut health,” Chief Investigator Dr Adrienne Withall said.

The FAITH study will provide valuable information about whether key nutrients can improve low grade inflammation and affect the microbiome in older Australian adults.

The hypothesis underlying this research has come from over 18 years of clinical experience from dietitian Ms Milena Katz.

This research is the focus of Milena’s PhD and she approached a major Australian supplement provider to see if they would donate the products to enable her to test her theory.

“They liked our proposed trial and agreed to donate their supplements. Now we need people to get involved,” Ms Katz said.

“Importantly, this information will help to inform medical dietary therapy to help older people to age well.”

The call for participation comes at a time when good nutrition has become a focus for older Australians as the The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety's final report is publicly released.
 
Participation in the FAITH trial involves a biological sample collection at the start and end of the trial, completing surveys and taking nutritional supplements for four months.

All participants enrolled in the study receive a four months’ supply of dietary supplements, regular monitoring and dietary advice. The participants allocated into the control group will receive the intervention supplements after the trial is completed.

To find out more about the trial, contact Study Coordinator Milena Katz on 0402385835 or email m.katz@unsw.edu.au.

Watch a video on the trial.

To find out more about MRC’s work visit the website.

Available for interview:

Dr Adrienne Withall
Milena Katz – Dietitian and Study Coordinator

Funding

The study is funded by the Ageing Futures Institute, UNSW. Supplements were donated to the research team. No provider was involved in the design or execution of the study.