HNH-34106 Nutrition and the Ageing Body


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Course coordinator(s)prof. dr. ir. CPGM de Groot
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. RF Witkamp
prof. dr. ir. CPGM de Groot
P Grootswagers
Examiner(s)prof. dr. ir. CPGM de Groot

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

Bachelor level knowledge on Nutrition Science or equivalent (e.g. Biomedical Sciences), including the micro- and macroutrients. Plus HAP-30306 (Nutritional Physiology); 


The world is facing an unprecedented increase in population ageing. In the Netherlands the rate of graying will even double in the next decades (CBS), whereby the pressure on healthcare systems continues to increase. To bend this trend into a more favorable direction knowledge is needed of the interplay between nutrition, other lifestyle factors and the ageing process.

In this course students embark on a journey through the human body to encounter a sequence of biological events starting early in life (ageing) with considerable inter-individual variation. Thereby, intermediate stops will be made at organs and tissues where both the ageing process and nutrition have a high impact. Here, optimal nutrition can make a difference in ageing healthfully and in preserving functionality. Stops include the gut (as gate-keeper), the circulation, the immune system, the bone with its connective tissue, the skin, brains and muscle. Due attention will be given to the cross-talk between organs and tissues, to capture e.g, the gut-brain, the gut-muscle, the brain-bone axis and to nutrient interactions. This journey will be made as realistic/visible as possible. To this end close-encounters will be arranged, at real life settings of clinical experts and older adults. Key to the course is to underline that optimal nutrition is of major importance for healthy ageing and quality of life of older adults.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- understand the key changes that occur during ageing at the level of the whole body, gastro-intestinal system, kidney and heart, the muscle, bone and joints, the skin;
- understand the major determinants of the ageing process and the interindividual differences;
- understand the role that nutrition plays in the ageing process, acknowledging the cross-talk between organs and tissues;
- explain the impact of the key changes that occur during ageing on nutrient requirements, acknowledging interactions between nutrients;
- describe and underpin nutrition and lifestyle interventions that attenuate the causes and consequences of the ageing process;
- define and underpin integrated nutritional approaches and discuss them with physiologists, clinicians, health professionals and older adults;
- unvdrstand major practical and medical issues that older persons are facing.


Lectures, practicals and excursions, working groups: assignments to accumulate in a portfolio, self-study


Written exam based on Lectures, practicals and excursions (50%); Portfolio (50%)


Kick off references: Partridge: Facing up the global challenges of ageing (Nature 2018;561:45-44); Rattan: Biogerontology: research status, challenges and opportunities. (Acta Biomed. 2018 Jun 7;89(2):291-301. doi: 10.23750/abm.v89i2.7403.)

Brightspace for further literature, reader and andouts of the lectures

Restricted Optional for: MNHNutrition and HealthMScF: Spec. F - Food Digestion and Health6AF
MNHNutrition and HealthMScB: Spec. B - Nutritional Physiology and Health Status6AF