University receives gut research funding

Posted: 20 December 2022 | | No comments yet

The University of Reading has received a share of funding to research the role of ‘functional foods’ in recovery.

gut health

The University of Reading is one of six publicly-funded hubs that had received funding for diet and health research and innovation.

The hubs (which are funded by several UK agencies) led by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, are expected to drive progress in the understanding of the relationship between diet and health and exploring the benefits that functional foods could offer.

Almost £15 million has been invested in the new Diet and Health Open Innovation Research Club (OIRC). The University of Reading will receive a share of this funding to research on the role of ‘functional foods’ in recovery.

Explaining the importance of gut health, Dr Gemma Walton, Lead Researcher at the University of Reading, said: “Trillions of bacteria inhabit the human gastrointestinal tract – in simple terms, we have microbes in our guts, and that’s actually a very good thing.

“They grow within us and produce a range of end products that can impact on our health. We’re looking at how gut microbes can impact on recovery, after exercise, mental stress, or physical illness.”

According to Walton, gut health is largely influenced by the diet we consume, noting that “this means we can alter these inhabitants through food and drink, thereby having an influence on health.”

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The University’s research project is titled “INvestigating the role of Functional foOds and beveRages to iMprove health and recovery (INFORM)” and is said to be multidisciplinary, aiming to understand the potential for functional foods– to improve human health via impacts on the gut microbes.

“We will be investigating how a range of products, including various prebiotics, probiotics, and plant stanols, could impact on the gut microbiome and how this may correlate to recovery from exercise, illness, or mental stress,” explained Kieran Tuohy, Co-Investigator from the University of Leeds.

The University of Reading has said that experts in the gut microbiome, mental health, sports and exercise, bone health, metabolism and some specific clinical conditions, along with members of the food, healthcare and sport industries will be carrying out the research.