Mælkesyrebakterier. John Walsh/Science Photo Library/Scanpix

The key to good health lies in your gut

Wednesday 23 Oct 19


Tine Rask Licht
Professor, Head of Research Group
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 71 86

Bacteria in the gut affect the risk of developing lifestyle diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. The National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, conducts research in order to understand how bacteria in the gut affect our sensitivity to substances, which we are exposed to through our food.

Most people know that a healthy gut is important to our well-being. In recent years, research from, e.g., the National Food Institute has brought about a great deal of new knowledge of the interaction between our diet, the bacteria in our gut, and our body, and of how this interaction affects the risk of developing lifestyle diseases.

Gluten can stay on the menu

With Professor Tine Rask Licht from National Food Institute as project leader, the strategic research centre Gut, Grain and Greens (3G), has conducted one of the most comprehensive dietary studies of its kind. The study has—among other things—shown that there is a good scientific basis for the Danish authorities’ dietary advice.

"The ambition is to gain an even greater understanding of the complex bacterial composition in the gut and its influence on health. This can lead to personalized dietary advice and medication. At the National Food Institute, we also explore how genetically modified bacteria may be used as an alternative to medication, and how advanced methods for encapsulation of bacteria can promote the colonization of desirable bacteria in the gut."
Professor Tine Rask Licht

Research results show that intake of whole grain products reduces the so-called low-grade inflammation in the body, which constitutes a risk for overweight people who are susceptible to lifestyle diseases.

The study also shows that the much-maligned gluten protein is not unhealthy for the large part of the population that does not suffer from celiac disease or is allergic to wheat protein.

Faeces can save lives

The recent knowledge of gut bacteria can also save lives and change the treatment options available within the healthcare system.

The National Food Institute conducts research with Aarhus University Hospital, among others, addressing how faeces from healthy people can cure the life-threatening gut infection with Clostridium difficile, which sometimes keeps recurring even after antibiotic treatment.

On the way towards personalized dietary advice

The National Food Institute continues to contribute to an even greater understanding of the composition of our gut bacteria and its effect on health. The ambition is that this knowledge may lead to improved personalized dietary advice.

Read more 

Read more about the National Food Institute’s research into the connection between health, gut bacteria and diet in an article from the National Food Institute’s 60th anniversary publication: The key to good health lies in your gut.

The National Food Institute is celebrating its 60th birthday this year, as it was decided on June 5, 1959 to establish a national food institute in Denmark. The other articles from the anniversary publication will be published over the coming months.

You can also read the article: At the forefront of healthy, safe, and sustainable food.

The National Food Institute prevents disease and promotes health

Consumers are increasingly interested in their health. Magazines and news media are brimming with advice on healthy eating, exercising more and healthy living in general – and the demand for healthy and safe foods continues to increase. 

However, at the same time, more and more people are affected by resistant infectious diseases and lifestyle diseases, and exposure to chemicals can lead to cancer and inhibit our ability to reproduce.

Thus, research that promotes health and prevents disease is very important.

The majority of the research projects, scientific advice to authorities, cooperation with businesses and teaching activities at the National Food Institute have the fundamental vision to make a difference by preventing disease and promoting health in a number of areas: 

  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Unwanted effects of chemical substances
  • Nutrition
  • Food allergy
  • Microbiological food safety
  • Hygienic design in the production of food
  • Risk-benefit assessments of health effects
  • Chemical food analysis
  • Nano-materials in foods
  • Risk assessments
  • Gut health
  • Development of health food and ingredients.
Image: National Food Institute