From DOST lab: Healthy drink, snack for seniors
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is developing food products that contain the recommended nutrients needed by elderly Filipinos to ensure that they will be healthy to enjoy their advanced years.
Through the “Healthy Aging Program for PinoY (Happy) Senior Citizen,” the DOST will create one-beverage and one-snack food using mature green tomatoes (MGT), which has gamma-aminobutyric acid, an inhibitory neurotransmitter providing health benefits to the nervous and immune systems.
“The project team has already tested the use of MGT powder on several food products such as biscuits, chicken nuggets, skinless longganisa (sausage) and tomato sauce,” the DOST said.
Initiated in September 2022, the project unveiled by Science and Technology Secretary Renato Solidum Jr. on Oct. 12 would also seek to determine the impact of consuming these products on muscle strength and physical performance of older adults.
The DOST-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development is monitoring the development of the program while the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) is implementing the project expected to be completed by August 2024.
One of the outputs of the program last year was the launching of the Nutrition Physiology Laboratory featuring advanced technologies and equipment designed to showcase the synergy of four key components of human nutrition research: metabolism, physical activity, body composition and nutrition.
The DOST said the multidisciplinary team working on the Happy Senior Citizen project will evaluate the nutrition, function, anthropometric (proportions in the human body) measures, biochemical measures, and geriatric assessments of senior citizens to get a better picture of their nutritional status and situation.
Besides food products, the DOST-FNRI is also working on nutrition tools like the Philippine Food Composition Tables, the Philippine Dietary Reference Intakes, and the Food Exchange Lists (FEL) for Meal Planning to promote healthy living among senior citizens.
FEL provides alternatives to some Filipino staples like a half cup of rice that is equivalent to half a cob of corn or a piece of suman (steamed rice cake).
Each of the three food items contains 100 calories, 23 grams of carbohydrates, and 2 grams of protein, the DOST said.
The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development, for its part, is supporting the creation of rice varieties with low glycemic index (GI) value as an alternative option for Filipinos.
The low GI in rice varieties could help minimize the impact on blood sugar levels.