Call for partners: FermFoodHealth: Fermented functional food for gut, immune and brain health


Call for partners: FermFoodHealth: Fermented functional food for gut, immune and brain health

Also wondering what health effect your fermented food has? Wageningen Food & Biobased Research and Wageningen University Human Nutrition and Health are starting a consortium around this topic.

Gut-brain health of fermented foods

Food that include bacteria like yoghurts have been associated with many health effects. Besides the nutritional aspects of these foods the bacteria are held responsible for health benefits such as impact on microbiota composition, impact on respiratory infections etc. According to the FAO fermented foods are digested easier and higher in nutrients than nonfermented counterparts. Fermented foods can help increase intake of certain vitamins. In addition, the food source can also be enriched with metabolic by-products that support health through other means like lactate/lactic acid, SCFA’s, etc.). Biogenic amines can be formed acting as neurotransmitters and/or have a neuroprotective activity. Finally, bacterial derived extracellular polysaccharides can act beneficial as prebiotic or by supporting the immune system.

Analytical measurements can help characterize products and find clues to  further research. Bioactivity measurements based on human cell models and microbiota cultures can be used as lead finding and can support product optimization and quality control before selecting a trial design and biomarkers to include in an intervention trial to substantiate these potential health effects.

Research question and approach

The goal of the project is to characterize fermented foods for their molecular contents and identify potential health beneficial effects. As these effects are anticipated to be in the gut and brain area, we will follow up with a complementary set of human cell models to verify bioactivity of the identified molecular compounds. These assays can include 1) receptor assays to determine induction of signaling; 2) intestinal models (2D or 3D cultures) to study the effect of digestion on the uptake of nutrients; 3) microbiota cultures (SHIME batch fermentations) to investigate effects on microbial metabolism; 4) neuronal cell models including transwell setups to mimic the blood-brain-barrier(BBB). Finally, the most bioactive products are to be tested in a human in vivo trial in a healthy/normal and/or challenged setting to verify the beneficial effects of the fermented products on human resilience, biomarkers, cognition and microbiota.

Invitation to collaborate

This consortium is open for participation from ingredient companies, end product companies, and biotech companies. In return for in-cash and in-kind contributions to the project, partners can specify desired topics for research, and provide direction to the research activities. Unfortunately we are not able to reply to solicitations from research institutes or enquiries from students related to this project.

Want to know more?

Involved experts:

  • dr. J.J. Mes, expertiseleader Wageningen Food & Biobased Research
  • dr. C.C.F.M. Govers, senior researcher Wageningen Food & Biobased Research
  • Prof. dr. R.F. Witkamp, Professor in Nutritional Biology Wageningen University Human Nutrition and Health department