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Development of ‘smart foods’

10 Mar, 2010

Source: AgResearch

New Zealand food companies could one day develop scientifically founded ‘smart foods’ that enhance intestinal health, following research into how intestinal cells and bacteria interact to maintain intestinal function and how this is influenced by what we eat.

Dr Rachel Anderson of AgResearch plans to look at the intestinal barrier and how intestinal cells and bacteria can affect the way it functions.

The intestinal barrier is the largest interface between our bodies and the outside world and is believed to be the first line of defence against toxins in the environment.

During times of stress, the barrier can become temporarily impaired. It also deteriorates with age. If damaged, it can allow unwanted compounds to enter the body.

“I believe we are only beginning to understand the importance of intestinal microbes in maintaining intestinal health,” Dr Anderson says.

“I hope to build a career in the field of food-microbe-host interactions and contribute knowledge that helps to unravel this complex system.”

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