Nutrigenomics for better functional foods

Friday, 30 May, 2008

The human body contains more bacterial cells than human cells, and the diversity of the bacteria is vast. If we could fully understand how the bacteria behave and interact with the human body, we could develop products and eating patterns to improve the general wellness of the world’s population and prevent diseases. This area of research is part of the rapidly growing scientific discipline known as nutrigenomics, and it is not science fiction. 

“Over the last 10 years, we have done research on the genes of lactic acid bacteria and their interactions in either fermentors, used to produce cultures for example for yoghurt production. The results will give our customers the benefits of a more consistent and thereby cost-efficient production, and the global consumers are sure to get what they pay for. When they, for instance, buy a probiotic yoghurt, they can trust that the probiotic cells are capable of providing the health benefit mentioned on the label,” explains Eric Johansen, PhD, Associate VP, Science, Chr Hansen.

Chr Hansen is involved in several international research projects on genomics and nutrigenomics and 7% of the organisation is working full time within this field.

The focus on genomics and nutrigenomics is mainly in the US and Europe but the benefits will reach globally.

“It is not at all far-fetched to imagine that within some years you could download your personal genotype onto your mobile phone and use it to scan the bar codes in the supermarket and make sure that you only buy what is healthy for precisely your body,” according to Chr Hansen’s Dr Johansen.

“At the moment, we know that probiotic products work, but we need more research to find out exactly how. When we understand the bacterial genes better, it will help Chr Hansen develop more effective products and allow us humans to make better, individual food choices. And it could be the answer to problems with weight management in the developed countries or a better nutritional supply to developing countries,” Dr Johansen concludes.


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