Institute of Food Research hosts global experts on ageing conference

4th September 2013

The British Society for Research on Ageing (BSRA) is co-hosting its annual meeting with the Institute of Food Research (IFR), and a major strand of the conference is focused on how ageing is influenced by both diet, and the bacteria that live in our guts. The IFR, based on the Norwich Research Park, carries out research to better understand the fundamental relationships between food and health.

Over the last century, average life expectancy has increased by 30 years. By 2030, one in four people will be over the age of 65. However, many people will spend these extra years in poor health. One of the greatest challenges facing scientists today is to understand the determinants of good health in later life.

“Over the last decade, we have started to get a handle on what many think of as an intractable problem: understanding the mechanisms which actually control the biology of the ageing process”  said Richard Faragher, Chair of the BRSA. “We are now beginning to unpick how diet  can contribute to a healthier old age”.

Our digestive system is central to life, so it’s no surprise that the food we eat and how we digest it affects ageing. Within our digestive system are trillions of bacteria. Researchers at the conference talked about how these bacteria change during ageing and with diet. Can manipulating diet or these bacteria improve ageing?

Our immune system tends to decline as we age, making us more prone to diseases and chronic conditions including cancer. We are gaining impressive new insights into how this happens and how the different systems of our bodies work together. The conference will also look at the new directions and targets for ageing on research.

The conference is sponsored by the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) – part of the US National Institutes for Health. Leading researchers from the US will join UK-based colleagues to present collaborative work on different aspects of ageing research in a NIA/BBSRC  Bilateral Symposium.