Be Healthy

Malnutrition is a well-known risk factor for infectious diseases, due both to a deficiency in macro- and/or micronutrients. Moreover, malnutrition hampers healing processes – for example (infected) pressure ulcers[1]

Low-grade inflammation also accompanies age-related syndromes[2],[3],[4] such as sarcopenia and frailty[5],[6] both showing a close correlation to the nutritional state (the main problem being protein-energy malnutrition).

Additionally, food components interfere with the immune state of both healthy and sick older adults. Immnuonutrition is therefore a fast evolving field. The attempt is to boost the immune response in older adults prone to show a diminished antibody response to vaccination such as influenza[7] and pneumococcus[8].

Nutritional intervention has been promoted as a promising approach to delaying/reversing immunosenescence. Current evidence suggests that some specific diet components are essential in many cellular processes especially in the normal performance and functioning of the immune system. This is the case for example of the micronutrient Zinc or the Vitamins D and E. They can play a major role in influencing the immune system responsiveness to infection and vaccines and ultimately reduce the incidence and severity of infection in older adults[9]. Vitamin D status, for instance, was inversely associated with risk of CAP and sepsis hospitalization in a community-living adult population[10]. Zinc supplementation has proven to be beneficial in decreasing the incidence of infections in the elderly population[11].

The aim of ALOHA is to address this concerned for integrating the role of micronutrient in the prevention of infectious disease in seniors as part of a healthy ageing strategy in Europe.


[1] Cereda E et al. A nutritional formula enriched with arginine, zinc, and antioxidants for the healing of pressure ulcers: a randomized study. Ann Intern Med 2015;162:167-174.

[2] Ostan R et al. Impact of diet and nutraceutical supplementation on inflammation in elderly people. Results from the RISTOMED study, an open-label randomized control trial. Clin Nutr 2015; doi10.1016/j.clnu.201506.010.

[3] Franceschi C et al. Chronic inflammation (inflammaging) and its potential contribution to age-associated diseases. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2014;69 (Suppl 1):S4-9.

[4] Santoro A et al. Combating inflammaging through a Mediterranean whole diet approach: the NU-AGE project’s conceptual framework and design. Mech Ageing Dev 1014;137:3-13.

[5] Bauer JM et al. Effects of a Vitamin D and Leucine-Enriched Whey Protein Nutritional Supplement on Measures of Sarcopenia in Older Adults, the PROVIDE Study: A Randomized, Duoble-blind, Placeo-Controlled Trial. J Am Med Dir Assoc 201516:740-747

[6] Calvani R et al. Current nutritional recommendations and novel dietary strategies to manage sarcopenia. J Frailty Ageing 2013;2:38-53.

[7] Roman BE et al. Short-term supplementation with active hexose correlated compound improves the antibody response to influenza B vaccine. Nur Res 2013;33:12-17

[8] Gibson A et al. Effect of fruit and vegetable consumption on immune function in older people: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr 2012;96:1429-1436.

[9] Lang PO, Aspinall R. Nutrients. 2015 Mar 20;7(3):2044-60. Can we translate vitamin D immunomodulating effect on innate and adaptive immunity to vaccine response?

[10] Jovanovich AJ Nutrients. 2014 Jun 10;6(6):2196-205. Vitamin D level and risk of community-acquired pneumonia and sepsis.

[11] Cabrera A. Pathobiol Aging Age Relat Dis. 2015; 5: 10 Zinc, aging, and immunosenescence: an overview