Overview: This research theme addresses one of the most important scientific challenges for optimising the nutritional value of sustainable foods, by unpacking what happens to the nutrients in food during processing and gastrointestinal digestion. Crucially, this theme will integrate advanced computational and mathematical modelling, human clinical studies and microbiome science with food structure and digestion science to provide advanced knowledge.  This research theme will completely transform current food design processes and food dietary guidelines, and ultimately give rise to a range of high value healthy foods.

There are five research projects under this theme:

Project 1.1: Food structure design – the fundamentals.
Project leaders Prof Matt Golding, Prof Geoff Jameson and Dr David Everett
The fundamentals of food structures project seeks to utilise the intrinsic relationship between food structure assembly, product properties and performance towards the design and development of enhanced food systems.

Project 1.2: Food structure modification in the digestive tract.
Project leaders Dist Prof Harjinder Singh, Prof Gail Bornhorst and Dr Alejandra Acevedo-Fani
This project aims to enhance our fundamental understanding of the structural dynamics of complex food systems and the subsequent interactions of food components during the gastrointestinal transit. MRI imaging will validate the findings and help inform predictive models of structure modification to ascertain the conditions for optimal nutrition.

Project 1.3: The Human Digestome: An integrated model of the human gastrointestinal tract.
Project leaders Prof Leo Cheng and Prof John Bronlund
This project aims to develop a complete model of the human gastrointestinal tract, reducing the need for human trials in the study of food bioavailability and nutrient release. Called the Human Digestome, the model will enable accurate simulation of the physical and biochemical conditions food goes through during human digestion.

Project 1.5: Food structure, human physiology and metabolism.
Project Leaders Prof Manohar Garg, Prof Nicole Roy and Dr Pramod Gopal
We know that modifications to food intake can affect body weight and prevent diseases like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This project aims to determine the physiological and metabolic consequences of complex food interactions that occur within the human gastrointestinal tract, and how our digestive processes play a role in maintaining optimal health and preventing non-communicable diseases.

Project 1.6: New approaches to describing the nutritional and health impact of foods.
Project Leaders: Prof Jim Mann and Dr Andrew Reynolds
This project will address a long-standing problem in human nutrition: how to obtain accurate estimates of food intake to be able to assess the diet and make necessary changes. This project aims to develop an analytical method that can detect markers of food intake in body tissues, such as blood and urine, reducing the need for self-reporting.