Amy Ferrando, researcher at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), will use a $2.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to determine the best possible nutrition for U.S. troops involved in combat and combat training.
“UAMS and its scientists like Amy Ferrando continue to demonstrate how the university is leading in research that promises not just to benefit Arkansas but the nation,” UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson said. “We are grateful to the Defense Department for this grant funding and the recognition that it conveys.”
Ferrando is a researcher at UAMS Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and a professor in the UAMS College of Medicine Department of Geriatrics. The five-year grant was awarded by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command in the Department of the Army within the Department of Defense.
“Maintaining the health of our military in training and in combat is vital to their wellness and effectiveness,” said Jeanne Wei, executive director of the Reynolds Institute. “This research by Dr. Ferrando and the UAMS Reynolds Institute on Aging will contribute greatly to understanding the best way to do that nutritionally and may have other positive applications, too.”
The first part of the study will focus on the essential amino acid intake that’s required under conditions the troops face in combat or combat training. Next, researchers will look at the best ways the troops can achieve the required intake levels, whether through food or supplements or a combination of both. Results of the studies will be tested in a simulated training scenario and eventually in real-time military combat training exercises.
“There is a critical need for effective and feasible interventions that sustain and maximize warfighter health and performance during real-world operations,” Ferrando said. “The use of a combat ration item designed from this research will be used to promote recovery and increase combat effectiveness by offsetting losses of body and muscle protein.”
In combat, troops who don’t consume enough calories and protein often have a loss of body and skeletal protein. A prolonged loss of muscle and protein might compromise physical performance, increase the risk of injury and lost duty time and decrease overall readiness.