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Cheese improves immune response of elderly

To tackle immunosenescene the team targeted the gastrointestinal tract, which is the main entry for bacteria cells into the body through food and drink and is also the site where 70% of vital immunoglobulin cells are created.

The team asked volunteers aged between 72 and 103, all of which lived in the same care home, to eat one slice of either placebo or probiotic Gouda cheese with their breakfast for four weeks. Blood tests where then carried out to discover the effect of probiotic bacteria contained within the cheese on the immune system.

The results revealed a clear enhancement of natural and acquired immunity through the activation of NK blood cells and an increase in phagocytic activity.

“The aim of our study was to see if specific probiotic bacteria in cheese would have immune enhancing effects on healthy older individuals in a nursing home setting,” concluded Ibrahim. “We have demonstrated that the regular intake of probiotic cheese can help to boost the immune system and that including it in a regular diet may help to improve an elderly person's immune response to external challenges.

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Indications for Referral

There are many situations where referral may be indicated including:

  • a new diagnosis requiring specific dietary modification (eg. diabetes, food allergy, abnormal blood lipids)
  • poor understanding of dietary management (eg. a patient who has had diabetes for years but has poor blood glucose control)
  • significant unintentional weight change (either weight loss or gain)
  • evidence of recent poor food intake, poor appetite or difficulty preparing or eating food (eg. poor dentition or social isolation)
  • deterioration of symptoms or change in care needs (especially for cancer or HIV patients or the elderly)
  • any nutritional deficiencies (eg. anaemia or iodine deficiency)
  • changes in medication prescribed that may affect dietary intake
  • alternative methods of feeding (eg. enteral)
  • texture modified food (dysphagic patients)
  • periodic review for chronic conditions.

When referring, it is useful to include relevant medical history, recent biochemical and metabolic test results, and details of any medications currently prescribed.

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