Future Proteins: Nutritional quality and bio-functional activity after digestion

There is an urgent need for resource-efficiently produced proteins for inclusion in the human diet. Against a background of increasing global population, and increasing welfare, an increase in demand for protein supply can be anticipated. An optimal use of proteins from various sources, tuned for specific needs and demands, requires that such replacement is guided by science-based tools. In this project, focus will be on evaluation of value to currently used proteins in terms of their bio-functional properties.

The human diet of the future

The global population is projected to reach more than 9 billion by 2050, and by then the global demand for food will essentially double. Thus, there is an urgent need for sustainable and resource-efficiently produced proteins with nutritional and health promoting qualities for inclusion in the human diet. An optimal use of proteins from various sources, customised for specific (health) needs, requires that this protein transition is guided by science-based tools. In this project, the focus will be on the evaluation of the gastro-intestinal (GI) health values, that is bio-functional activity, and nutritional quality of currently available proteins for inclusion in the human diet of the future.

Proteins analysed

To this end, proteins from a variety of protein-suppliers will be analysed for their nutritional qualities and bio-functional properties on metabolism, gut health, and immunological tolerance induction, using state of the art in vitro and in vivo tools. These tools will subsequently be used to evaluate the impact of processing (such as heating) and/or digestion on the nutritional quality (contents of essential amino acids, degree of digestion, bio-availability) and the health effects (gut-barrier function, and/or interaction with intestinal immune cells) of the various proteins. In addition, the effectiveness of supplementations or mixtures of proteins and/or amino acids from different sources to optimise the nutritional and/or health quality will be investigated.

Toolbox for interesting proteins sources

The overall objective of this proposal is to investigate the nutritional quality and bio-functional activity of proteins from sustainable and resource-efficient sources. Primarily in scope are the nutritional requirements, the protection of the gut-barrier function, and the promotion of immunologic tolerance. Comprehensive in vitro and in vivo analyses will be developed and combined in a systematic screening. This will result in a toolbox that will allow future research with emerging interesting proteins sources.