Food Science & Safety

Defining the Role of Nutrition with NMR

There is a complex relationship between nutrition and health. Essential nutrients and micronutrients are required for the biochemical processes within the body to function correctly. It follows that nutritional imbalance can contribute to the underlying cause of many diseases and unwanted symptoms.

Nutritional medicine is a field of research that studies the role that nutrition plays in health, disease, lifecycle and ageing. It is based on the assumption that restoring nutritional balance can help alleviate or even cure disease.

In a recent interview Christian Sina, Professor for Nutritional Medicine at the University of Lübeck, discussed the role of NMR in nutritional medicine research.

NMR in nutritional medicine research

The nutritional medicine team at the University of Lübeck are investigating the functions of macronutrients and micronutrients in the body. Through this research, they hope to improve the treatment of patients through personalized medicine.

Professor Sina explained why NMR is such a valuable tool in nutritional medicine research “NMR specifically is a very nice tool to facilitate our research. By looking at precisely what kind of metabolites are changing upon dietary interventions, we make the impact of nutritional medicine much more visible, and we can then try to target the diseases and conditions we want to treat”.

Funding of the new NMR centre at the University at Lübeck has opened up numerous opportunities for the development of the nutritional medicine department. The centre will increase the research capabilities of the team and also enhance the education of their students. Both are benefits that Sina believes will initiate some start-ups and spin-offs from the university. It has also opened up more channels for interdisciplinary communication and collaboration to translate the results from science into economic benefit.

Scientific progress is the key for economic development, and so the new NMR centre is likely to result in new job opportunities in the region. The facility will draw more companies to the area, and students from the university will gain practical experience that will enhance their employment potential.

NMR enables standardized approaches

Standardized research protocols and reproducibility of data, which are facilitated by robust NMR analyses, are important for effective integration of the work undertaken by different research groups across the globe.

With more standardization across analytical techniques, it is possible to directly compare data internationally. Such uniformity has been missing historically in nutritional medicine. Now that everyone is able to produce and share reliable results, research efforts will be strengthened and accelerated enormously.

Professor Sina emphasised that the benefits of the NMR centre will also be seen in their research straight away “The technology behind the research is really our major advantage, which will use to continuously improve our day-to-day work”.

Looking forward, the strengthening of their research capabilities will help in achieving their goal of personalized nutrition. Defining the role of nutrition through research will provide the cornerstone for tailoring nutrition to the specific requirements of an individual person in a certain situation or with a certain lifestyle. The aim of nutritional medicine is not just to support therapies, but also to treat patients efficaciously with nutritional medicine.