FOODNUTRI - Climate Smart Food and Nutrition Research Infrastructure
FOODNUTRI has missions to:
- provide know-how including tools and methods on food characteristics, physiological responses to food, consumer acceptance, food consumption and nutrient intake of populations as well as on environmental and health impacts
- strive in developing tools and databases for high quality support and services for maintaining the dietary research infrastructure, assessing environmental burden of our diets, and developing modelling tools and services for dietary risk assessment and monitoring based on versatile channels of food information
- upgrade domestic raw materials and explore agricultural and other side-streams for production of foods and food ingredients by exploiting sustainable food processing technologies
- enhance and strengthen regional expertise and develop the research and innovation platform as part of the national research infrastructure
- develop the research platform as open service based products
We will set up and validate methods to support research related to food microbiological safety, in vitro dynamic gastrointestinal model, advanced analytics, and digital measuring methods of food consumption and quality of diet. Additionally, we will develop a digital feedback application.
In vitro modeling of gut microbes and gut barrier function is part of the FOODNUTRI “Physiological responses to food” research platform. The platform’s overall objective is to ensure population health by generating high-quality evidence on the physiological responses driven by foods, food components, and diets, thereby promoting the adoption of nutritious diets.
The well-being of the gut microbiota and gut barrier plays a crucial role in maintaining health, influencing the development of diseases, and preventing them. The abundance and diversity of gut microbiota have been linked to various conditions, including low-grade inflammation, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, cancers, and allergies. The quality of food and diet significantly impacts the composition of the gut microbiota and the well-being of the gastrointestinal wall. A diet rich in fiber, such as whole grains, vegetables, berries, and fruits, promotes a diverse microbiota, supports the well-being of the intestinal wall, and reduces its permeability.
Within the FOODNUTRI project, we are further developing the in vitro intestinal model. The objective is to establish a modular dynamic gastrointestinal model that can be connected to a new module featuring human cell cultures. This setup allows us to study the effects of metabolites from digestion and/or the microbiota on human tissues, including the intestinal barrier. The piloting of the new module will involve existing and new food products or their raw materials, with a particular focus on their impact on human microbiota composition and activity, and intestinal permeability.
By employing in vitro modeling, we can comprehensively investigate the effects of foods and their components in the gut. The insights obtained from the model can be combined with information from meal studies. This evidence-based platform’s development enables a profound understanding of the mechanistic effects of food, offering significant potential for individual health maintenance and disease prevention in the future. The modular gut model can be utilized to determine the health effects of foods or their components at an early stage of food development. In vitro modeling also allows the study of the intestinal-mediated health effects of novel food sources or components before they can be tested in humans, contributing to our understanding of their effects from both health and safety perspectives.
Clinical meal studies are part of the FOODNUTRI ’Physiological responses to food’ -research platform. The overall objective of the platform is to secure population health through ensuring adoption of nutritious diets by generating high-quality evidence on the physiological responses driven by foods, food components and diets.
Clinical postprandial studies are for exploring human metabolic effects of foods right after the meal.
Postprandial i.e. meal studies are part of the long tradition of clinical food and dietary intervention studies done at the Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition. Meal studies are conducted with very different approaches and various scientific views to understand acute food related glucose and lipid metabolism, inflammation as well as related satiety and hunger responses, attitudes, sympathetic and parasympathetic responses, and brain activities.
FOODNUTRI-project aims to design a meal study service concept that takes flexibly into account various stakeholder needs. Service design will be formulated using pilot studies with several different foods or food components as an effector.
The approaches and aims of meal studies are flexible modifiable. Additionally, volunteers to recruited to participate in the meal study can be chosen to represent various population groups based on the study question and aim. There is also a possibility to add short term intervention to be connected with a meal study if the interest is in how the intervention can have an effect on the meal responses. The challenge when planning the meal study is to find a suitable control product. This is very important, because the study question and control product will determine which question(s) the meal study is able to answer. Thus, it is important to know the literature around the chosen approach and to openly discuss on the needs and questions for which the meal study is done.
As part of the regional FOODNUTRI project, we promote the development of national digital individualized apps that measure food consumption and offer individualized and automated dietary feedback.
With the help of digital tools, we can promote the nutritional health and well-being of individuals and the population, prevent chronic diseases and support sustainable food consumption. In the regional FOODNUTRI project, we are developing digital measurement of food consumption and an individualized feedback system, and, thus, we are improving both regionally and nationally the opportunities for improving nutritional health. We cooperate with companies, municipalities, associations and other parties in the development, piloting, and implementation of the app.
The goal of the project is to develop a Healthy Diet Index app with an automated feedback system based on an individual’s food consumption and nutritional intake and to explore the possibility of combining information with other health information. App development is carried out together with Savonia University of Applied Sciences. The content of the app is based on the scientifically validated Healthy Diet Index and the expertise of specialists in the field of nutrition from, for example, the University of Eastern Finland, Savonia University of Applied Sciences and the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare. Figure 1 shows the project’s stages of developing the Healthy Diet Index app.
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Marjukka KolehmainenProfessorInstitute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences
Carlos Gomez GallegoSenior ResearcherInstitute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences
Maria LankinenUniversity LecturerInstitute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences
Anu RuusunenClinical LecturerInstitute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences
Otto-Ilari SavolainenSenior ResearcherInstitute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences
Jenni KorhonenSenior University LecturerInstitute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences
Elina Järvelä-ReijonenVisiting ResearcherInstitute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences
Kati VäkeväinenUniversity TeacherInstitute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences
Kirsikka AittolaDoctoral ResearcherInstitute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences
Moona PartanenDoctoral ResearcherInstitute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences
Ida TikkanenLaboratory AssistantInstitute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences
Eeva-Liisa LajunenBiomedical Laboratory ScientistInstitute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences