Ida Rud and colleagues at Nofima are using human gut models and animal and human trials to test the effect of food on the gut flora. Photo: Jon-Are Berg-Jacobsen/Nofima

Project Year 2015

Nutrition for your gut flora

You're only ten per cent human. The remaining 90 per cent are bacteria in your gut that digest your food and are important for your health.

Nofima has established an scientific platform to understand the effect of food on health, where the gut flora – i.e. gut bacteria – play an important role. Through several different projects the researchers are mapping the food’s effect on the gut flora – and thus on health.

“An intake of healthy and varied food is important in order to maintain a favourable gut flora. The lifestyle in the western world, including the consumption of a lot of unhealthy food, can cause the gut flora to become imbalanced through a reduction in the diversity of bacteria. Evidence is increasingly showing that this imbalance in the gut flora may lead to diseases such as cancer, diabetes, allergies and bowel inflammation,” says Nofima researcher Ida Rud.
It is particularly food that is rich in fibre that provides nutrition to the gut bacteria, as this cannot be digested by our own digestive system, but enters the large intestine after passing unchanged through the mouth, stomach and small intestine. Undigested proteins, starch and fat can also affect the gut flora. Nofima is studying the effect of cereals, vegetables, red meat, fish and fibre components on the gut flora.

Researchers are using both human gut models and animal and human trials to test the effect of food on the gut flora. The project “The healthy meal” showed that barley, broccoli and salmon affect different gut bacteria. Barley consist mainly of the fibres beta-glucan and arabinoxylan, while broccoli contains high amounts of pectin. These different fibres stimulate different bacteria in the gut with different properties for fibre decomposition and contribute to the creation of favourable metabolites in the gut.

Through research into various foods, food components and meals, we can help raise awareness of how Norwegian food products and meal solutions can contribute to a healthy gut flora and good health.

The Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), The National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research (NIFES), industrial partners

The Research council of Norway, the Foundation for Research Levy on Agricultural Products

More useful research results