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Health benefits of fibre and bacteria in food

A new joint project between Aarhus University and DuPont Nutrition & Health will lead to a better understanding of the effect of probiotic bacteria and prebiotic dietary fibre in humans.

2015.01.19 | Janne Hansen

Researchers will elucidate the health-promoting effects of fibre and bacteria to help prevent problems connected to obesity and lifestyle diseases. Photo: Janne Hansen

Lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease are a rapidly growing global problem. This is due to lifestyle changes such as diet and a reduction in physical activity. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1.4 billion people at global level are overweight. Therefore, prevention and control of diseases is a highly topical theme.


A new joint two-year project between Aarhus University and DuPont Nutrition & Health will be mapping the health-promoting properties of bacteria and dietary fibre and thus shed light on how they can help prevent lifestyle diseases. The project has a total budget of 2 million Danish kroner, to which Innovation Fund Denmark has granted 1 million kroner.


Indigestible fibres may stimulate the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract. These fibres are also called prebiotics. Probiotics are bacteria with health-promoting properties, typically lactic acid bacteria. By adding prebiotics and probiotics to food, you can produce foods that boost your health.


To get a deeper understanding of the health-promoting effects new advanced methods are required. If a positive effect can be demonstrated, it will be possible to optimise and develop new healthy foods.


- Knowledge of positive effects will have a great business potential and will also be extremely important for our general dietary and health recommendations, says Henrik Max Jensen, Senior Principal Scientist at DuPont Nutrition & Health.


Three studies on mice and one clinical trial on humans are planned that study the metabolic changes following an intake of prebiotics or probiotics. DuPont Nutrition & Health and Aarhus University will use advanced NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) spectroscopy and metabolomics methods to measure metabolism. The collection of many types of samples from, for example, blood, faeces, urine and tissue and measuring on a large number of metabolic degradation products (metabolites) will create a very large dataset.


- To understand the complete picture, it is important to study it as a whole. The complete picture of the large amount of data can be built into metabolic networks of lifestyle diseases and show us how the intake of prebiotics or probiotics can prevent metabolic changes associated with lifestyle diseases, says Industrial Postdoc Christian Clement Yde from Aarhus University.


For further information please contact:

Industrial Postdoc Christian Clement Yde, Department of Food Science, email: yde@food.au.dk, telephone: +45 8715 4886


Senior Researcher Hanne Christine Bertram, Department of Food Science, email: hannec.bertram@food.au.dk, telephone: +45 8715 8353


Senior Principal Scientist Henrik Max Jensen, DuPont Nutrition Biosciences Ltd. (DuPont Nutrition & Health), telephone: +45 8943 5145