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Eating the membrane between the shell and egg white slows down ageing
Do you discard this membrane when eating your eggs? New research suggests that this membrane has anti-ageing properties: It keeps your muscles young for longer.
A few years ago, Nofima scientists helped investigate how the membrane on the inside of the eggshell can make wounds heal faster.
However, Mona E. Pedersen and Sissel B. Rønning have not stopped after simply healing wounds – they are now testing the effect the membrane has on muscles, inflammation and the gut microbiome.
So far, the results are looking good. Eating eggshell membrane can help slow down the ageing in your muscles.
According to the researchers, it can help mitigate the muscle loss everyone experiences from the age of 40.
Initially, they tested the effect of eggshell membrane on cells in the laboratory and in ageing mice.
“We used cells from different organs, such as muscle cells, immune cells and intestinal cells,” Rønning says. “This allows us to get an indication of whether the membrane can have a beneficial effect on these organs.”
“What we saw both when we did studies on cells in the lab and on mice at our partner institution NMBU, was that ingesting a certain amount of eggshell membrane can reduce markers of ageing in muscles,” Pedersen says.
Affects grip strength
The mice were given eggshell membranes to eat from the time they were middle-aged until they grew old.
“We also looked at the muscle structure. As a young muscle ages, its appearance also changes,” Pedersen says.
The old muscles resembled younger muscles. Additionally, the membrane improves a very specific function: grip strength, which does not deteriorate as fast.
“The membrane prevents you from dropping things as much. Grip strength is a physiological function – we hardly expected to see any effects on it,” Pedersen says.
The researchers have also conducted a small experiment on humans. Elderly test subjects in good health were given capsules containing eggshell membrane, but only for a short period of time.
“When we examined their blood, we observed an anti-inflammatory effect,” Pedersen says.
Sissel B. Rønning explains that extracting muscle samples is too invasive. Instead, the researchers at the University of Oslo took blood samples, and saw that the eggshell membrane reduced the amount of inflammatory substances in the blood.
“We know that these inflammatory substances play a role in breaking down the muscles,” she says.
Mild inflammation is one of the factors that contributes to the loss of muscle mass with age.
The researchers also investigated the impact on digestion – although only on mice and in the laboratory so far.
They explain that the beneficial effects they observed in muscles are also observed in the intestine.
Additionally, the intestine contained a greater variety of bacteria, and more of the ‘good’ bacteria that provide better health.
Utilising raw materials
An added bonus of the research is that it makes it possible to exploit resources that would otherwise go to waste.
“We have a strong focus on utilising all the raw materials we handle in the best possible way,” Per Berg, Director of R&D and Innovation at Nortura, says. “The fact that our raw materials can provide health benefits is inspiring and can provide many new opportunities for us in the future."
Produce 40 tonness a year
Norilia, Nortura’s subsidiary that handles the residue from slaughter and eggs that are not used for food, produces 40 tonnes of eggshell membrane a year.
The researchers say that since Norwegian eggs are salmonella-free, it is easier and safer to use these products.
It also gives Norway a positive advantage where the raw materials can also be utilised abroad.
Heidi Alvestrand is the Director of Business Development at Norilia. She has great optimism in products made with eggshell membrane.
In partnership with Nortura Revetal and the start-up company Biovotec, Norilia has built an industrial process line to separate the membrane from the eggshells.
“This project is very important to us in order to test the membrane, investigating what functional and bioactive properties it has, and how it can be used. It is especially important for us to document the health-related properties and their effects,” she says. “Research is important for developing products and markets and documenting properties and effects. We see several interesting applications for the membrane in high-value products, for example in dietary supplements."
About the research
The research is carried out as part of the OptiEgg project ‘Optimal verdiøkning av eggeprodukter’ (Optimal value creation from egg products).
The project’s goal is to utilise the entire egg as a raw material in the food industry and to look at what significance eggs and egg products can have for public health.
Nortura is leading the project in partnership with Nofima (project manager), NMBU and the University of Oslo.
The methods used to test cell properties in this project have been developed through the strategic research programmes at Nofima funded by the Foundation for Research Levy on Agricultural Products.
This article/press release is paid for and presented by Nofima The Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research
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