About the project – University of Copenhagen

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CALM > About the project

About the CALM project

Growing number of elderly
In the coming decades, the number of elderly citizens over age 60 in Denmark will increase by more than 50%. As a consequence, public expenditures for health care and welfare services will rapidly increase unless new evidence-based measures are developed to counteract age-related challenges.

One of the most significant challenges is the age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass (1-2% per year), which starts around age 50 in healthy individuals. Thus, with a larger elderly population, society will face significant challenges; how to maintain the elderly’s independence and quality of life, and how to avoid unwanted changes in their everyday practices due to skeletal muscle loss.

Combating muscle loss
It is widely recognised that physical-activity levels decrease with ageing and daily food intake also declines, especially protein intake. With regard to these factors, it is believed that age-dependent muscle loss can be partially diminished with an increased intake of dietary protein, and is optimally counteracted when adequate protein intake is combined with resistance training.

However, this raises several questions about the usefulness of the present knowledge, especially with regard to protein intake and exercise as strategies and general recommendations for the elderly to combat muscle loss.

Focusing on long-term benefits of exercise
While the benefit from an intensive, training centre-based, heavy-resistance exercise program is hypothesised to be superior to other interventions as long as supervision and individual control are performed, long-term adherence to such a program must be questioned.

Conversely, greater adherence to more moderately-intensive, home-based training programs is expected and thus the long-term benefit exceeds that of the heavy-resistance exercise strategy.

The effect of increased protein intake on gut microbiota 
It is known that the complexity in the composition of human gut microbiota decreases with age, but how these changes correlate with metabolome changes is not known. Further, the effect of increased protein intake on gut microbiota composition and blood metabolome among the elderly is not known, but it is likely to have a strong effect on both.

Everyday-life prartices
We aim to investigate these questions by addressing not only the physiological response of the human body to different combinations of protein and exercise, but also by exploring everyday-life practices and societal structures that may support or hinder the successful implementation of changes in elderly people’s daily lives.

CALM vision
The overall vision of this project is to formulate evidence-based strategies and recommendations, which will be appropriate to the everyday practices of the elderly population.

CALM multidisciplinarity
Our claim is that, in order to develop such recommendations, it is necessary to take a multidisciplinary approach. Thus, we have designed a highly innovative research project that integrates studies of molecular, physiological and microbiological characteristics and adaptations together with historical, sensory and ethnographic investigations of lifestyle behaviour.