Our mission is to contribute to a better understanding of the interplay between diet - food, energy and nutrients - and human biology, in order to achieve optimal physical and mental performance under different conditions. In our research and teaching, we primarily focus on the significance of nutrition to maintain or improve a persons’ physical and cognitive performance during ageing, recovery and rehabilitation.
Ageing is a natural process involving a series of progressive biological changes that show marked differences between individuals. Importantly, these changes start long before we become aware that we are getting older. In our research and teaching, this overarching theme is translated to the following 3 scientific domains:
- Nutrition and Ageing. We work on the identification of effective dietary strategies to slow down or reverse stages preliminary to ageing-related pathologies, including osteoporosis, sarcopenia and cognitive decline, and thus prevent their functional consequences in old age. Next to this, we contribute to the development of tailored nutritional approaches that meet the specific requirements of ageing persons differing in health or health risk profiles.
- Nutrition and Physical Performance. This topic is approached from different sides. Firstly, we address the interactions between nutrition and physical activity in relation to health benefits and to improve recovery. Here, our target groups are persons at risk, including the elderly. Secondly, we study nutrition in relation to performance, stress and recovery in persons who have to perform at a high level.
- Nutrition and metabolism during disease, stress and convalescence. Here, we focus on inter-organ and inter-tissue communication during shorter or longer periods of health deterioration. In particular, we study the role of the gastrointestinal tract, the musculoskeletal system and the central nervous system. In persons who have gone through a period of extreme metabolic/disease stress, we investigate the role of nutrition in optimizing the recovery process.
Teaching at BSc level includes (coordination of) the following courses: Introduction to the field of Nutrition and Health, Pharmacology and Nutrition, Research Methodology for Nutrition and Health II. At MSc level, we take the lead in the courses: Nutrition and Sports, Metabolic Consequences of Chronic Diseases, Nutrition and the Brain, and Human Nutrition and the Ageing Body.