It is widely accepted that eating oily fish can help your heart but a University of Stirling researcher is investigating whether it could provide even greater health benefits.
Chris McGlory will lead a year-long project at Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence into the impact of fish oils on muscle growth, considering the results for both athletes and clinical populations such as the elderly.
An increase in muscle mass often leads to an improvement in function, heightening sporting performance and even more importantly, prevention of a range of costly health problems.
“The National Health Service spends millions every year on injuries caused by people falling down the stairs and on treatments for muscle wasting diseases,” explained McGlory, pictured right, a PhD student in Sport, Health and Exercise Science. “There have been a number of studies into the benefits of fish oils, but they have tended to look at the cardiovascular aspects, inflammation and immune function. There has been very little research on muscle and the impact fish oil could have.”
The study brings together researchers from the School of Sport with Professor Gordon Bell from the University’s Nutrition Group at the internationally recognised Institute of Aquaculture.
Professor Bell will focus on the blood analysis of the omega-3 fish oil intake, using a new method of measurement known as the Ideal Omega test. This has been developed in collaboration with Dr Tom Gilhooly of Glasgow Health Solutions Ltd, whose company will supply the fish oil supplements.
Professor Kevin Tipton, Chair of Sport, Health and Exercise Science, is an expert in muscle metabolism and helped to draw up the programme along with Sport and Exercise Physiologist Dr Stuart Galloway.
McGlory previously completed an MPhil in Molecular Exercise Physiology at Liverpool John Moores University under the tutelage of current Liverpool FC Consultant Nutritionist Dr James Morton.
McGlory added: “It will be a two-part project, looking at both the impact of fish oil supplementation on muscle growth and then on recovery from exercise. We will be working with moderately active people who will take a dose of fish oil capsules each day.
“Analysing the results, we hope to be able to determine the relationship between the fish oil and muscle growth, which could potentially have a massive impact not only on athletes in training, but on older people too.”
The research has been funded by Glasgow Health Solutions Ltd in partnership with Sporting Chance Initiative, which helps businesses to tap into world-class sports research.
It is expected the results will be completed early next year, one of a number of sport and health research projects currently underway at Stirling.
Professor Tipton said: “This project will take advantage of the new state-of-the-art facilities to study sport, health and exercise sciences. The University of Stirling has identified this area of research as a growth area and has provided new facilities and equipment to support it. Our research group is very excited about the potential this growth provides us and look forward to doing more research in these important areas.”
Anyone interested in finding out more about sport, health and exercise science research at Stirling should email Professor Tipton at firstname.lastname@example.org.