University of Limerick
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A qualitative study of older adults’ and healthcare professionals’ perspectives on the potential of functional food products to support healthy ageing

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posted on 2023-08-24, 07:46 authored by Lauren O’Mahony, Emma O'Shea, EIBHLIS O'CONNOREIBHLIS O'CONNOR, Audrey TierneyAudrey Tierney, Mary Harkin, Janas Harrington, Sharon Kennelly, Elke Arendt, O'Toole, Paul W., Suzanne Timmons

Providing Mediterranean Diet (MD) nutrients in a minimally-processed functional food product may support healthy ageing, mediating favourable gut microbiota profiles when MD adherence is challenging. We thematically analysed stakeholders’ perspectives of functional food products targeting healthy ageing, through semi-structured individual and group interviews in Ireland, with 47 older-adults (recruited through social, retirement and disease-support groups); and 26 HCPs across a range of disciplines. Functional food products could provide a “boost” of hard-to-reach nutrients, supplementary fibre and/or protein, but there is caution with “silver bullet” products. Changing dentition (texture), appetite (portion size), dexterity (packaging; preparation ease) must be reflected, without stigmatising branding/presentation, while cost and availability were considered important. It was perceived that “sugar is the enemy”, while plant-based proteins were welcomed. In summary, novel food products could supplement, but not replace, a balanced diet for older adults, providing additional protein and fibre in a convenient, sustainable, carefully branded product.


SOLARBIOME: A novel food product harnessing the Mediterranean Diet to promote healthy aging by maintaining the gut microbiome

Science Foundation Ireland

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Journal of Functional Foods 107, 105689



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  • Health Research Institute (HRI)

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  • (3) Good Health and Well-being

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  • Allied Health
  • Biological Sciences