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DAFM Award

DAFM National Call 2015 15F635 Teagasc (ITT, UCC) €603,909

Project Title:

Generation of Functional Foods to Promote the Growth of Newly Identified Health Associated Microbes in the Gut (NIHAM Foods)

Project Coordinator:

Dr Paul Cotter

Project Abstract

Irish researchers have established themselves as global leaders in the gut microbiota field. It is critical that we do not now miss the opportunity to take advantage of the ever greater understanding of the composition of the human gut microbiota and its contribution to health and disease to develop new functional foods that enhance health through targeted programming of the microbiota (Thematic Research Area B.3.1). Until now, prebiotics (nondigestible food ingredients used by beneficial bacteria) were employed with a view to enhancing the growth of the classical, health promoting gut microbes (or probiotics), Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, only. However, the application of new DNA sequencing techniques have revealed the next generation of health associated gut microbes. These include Akkermansia muciniphila (anti-obesity), Faecalibacterium prausnitzii (anti-inflammatory), Eubacterium rectale, Ruminococcus bromii and Roseburia sp. (all butyrate producers*) across a number of cohorts of the population with specific nutritional needs, including infants, young children, adolescents, obese individuals and older people.

15F635 Project Abstract Image

While it is relatively difficult to grow these microorganisms sufficiently well to facilitate their direct use as probiotics, it is possible to instead develop bioactives and growth substrates that can be incorporated into functional foods to encourage the growth of these microbes already naturally present (but at sub-optimal levels) in the human gut. If we do not take advantage of this knowledge immediately, we will miss an ‘once-in-a-generation’ opportunity to provide Irish industry with a key advantage in the functional food/gut health space. During the course of ‘NIHAM-Food’ (Foods for NewlyIdentifedHealthAssociatedMicrobes), bioinformatic analysis of the metabolic pathways present within these microbes (using genome sequence information that is already available) and high-throughput growth assays will be employed to identify the functional food components that will encourage their growth in the laboratory and, ultimately, within the gut. Food processing technologies will be employed to optimise the extraction and application of these nutrients and in vivo and in vitro studies will be employed to demonstrate the extent to which the components enhance the growth of these highly-desirable microbes. Ultimately, the project will lead to the development of new, value-added functional foods that enhance health and wellness throughout the lifecourse. Given that increases in proportions of A. muciniphila, F. prausnitzii, Eubacterium rectale, Ruminococcus bromii and Roseburia sp. would all benefit obese individuals, there will be a particular focus on this cohort when it comes to the human intervention Task within this project. However, it is anticipated that the functional foods developed would positively impact on the gut health on a large proportion of consumers.

* butyrate production has been associated with a number of beneficial effects including maintaining gut barrier integrity, reduced artherosclerosis, lower heart attack risk as well as anti-obesity/anti-diabetes benefits

Final Report:

Not available yet.