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Wim Saris:  Global health needs global collaboration

The emergence of advanced technologies in genomics, IT and neuroimaging has opened up a whole new world in nutritional sciences.

Within the next ten years we will be able to effectively demonstrate how nutrition affects inflammation and metabolic processes in the body.

This will enable food manufacturers to substantiate health claims; for instance for probiotics and prebiotics but also for polyphenols and other bioactive compounds.

Personalized nutrition
A wide range of reliable (do-it-yourself) assessment methods are becoming available, for example to measure blood glucose.

Smartphone apps, combining food intake data with collection with photo recording, are facilitating and accelerating epidemiological research, providing data that are more reliable and accurate than that gathered via questionnaires.

Such new assessment methods will make it possible to offer personalized nutrition programs, giving consumers targeted individual nutritional advice instead of general healthy-eating recommendations.

In 2009, scientists from TI Food and Nutrition, Wageningen University and Maastricht University were the first to demonstrate that probiotic bacteria can directly affect immune cells in the gastrointestinal tract (1). ...
Another highlight includes research, conducted by Wageningen University and Maastricht University within the TI Food and Nutrition public-private partnership, on maintaining muscle mass in the elderly. ...

This work has shown that nutrition “ especially changes in protein and amino-acid intake “ can extend an active and healthy lifestyle in the elderly (3). ...

Systems biology approach
With the emergence of an advanced systems biology approach, using very large linked datasets, I expect more groundbreaking insights will follow; not only in the fields of intestinal health, protein and muscle health, but also in the relatively-unexplored field of nutrition and cognition. ...

Combining large datasets, for example on genetic variation and metabolic parameters, will enable scientists to better understand physical processes and mechanisms and predict the effects of nutrition on health.

Public-private partnerships have proven to be excellent structures for establishing and coordinating the programs needed for precompetitive, multidisciplinary research

Prof. Wim Saris: Theme Director Nutrition and Health at TI Food and Nutrition, Professor of Human Nutrition at Maastricht University and Corporate Scientist Human Nutrition at DSM Food Specialties

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