Research at ZIEL
The research at the ZIEL - Institute for Food & Health covers the entire nutrition chain – from food processing and formulation to human physiology and nutritional medicine.
Our research areas
Food and the Microbiome
The Food and the Microbiome research area incorporates the topics food – microbiome – health.
Global microbiome research focuses on the digestive system as the interface between the organism and a unique microbial ecosystem.
It is assumed today that the microbiome plays a key role in human health. Food processing, food formulation and nutrition in general are important factors that have a significant impact on the composition and functionality of the microbiome. Quantitative and/or qualitative changes in the microbiome can affect the immune function and metabolism and are associated with many of today’s chronic diseases.
ZIEL focuses on the research of these complex links through the interdisciplinary exchange of expert knowledge and the use of cutting-edge research technology.
Food and Metabolism
Diseases associated with the metabolism, for example obesity, type 2 diabetes (T2D) and coronary heart disease (CHD), are responsible for significant increases in mortality risk throughout the world. Lifestyle and nutritional behavior are key environmental factors that contribute to metabolism-associated diseases, particularly in highly developed industrialized countries. The pathogenesis of these diseases is multifactorial; however, strong interconnections have emerged between metabolism and the immune system and this substantiates the key role played by inflammatory processes in the etiology of these diseases. The detailed phenotyping of test subjects is a key prerequisite for the characterization of the influence of food on metabolic processes. ZIEL has invested considerable resources in the methodological development of this approach in the context of its human studies unit. Together with the immunological expertise available at ZIEL and the TUM, the conditions have been created here for the analysis of new research areas at the interface between food and immune metabolism, at both the system and cellular levels. Combined with new animal models and research on the microbiome in the digestive system, a clear focus area for research has emerged here.
Food and Prevention
Wrong nutrition and an unhealthy lifestyle are part of an environment that promotes disease. Investigations using prospective cohorts allow epidemiologists to gain insight into population-related risk factors for diet- or lifestyle-dependent diseases, whereby the individual risk and targeted prevention are virtually not scientifically established.
Demographic change and urban lifestyles are global challenges that will affect food production. Targeted studies on the effects of new raw materials and production processes are the basis for an evidence-based assessment of food. The ZIEL has all the prerequisites for testing food with regard to health and prevention of diseases, from the basics to human intervention. This thematic area requires intensive cooperation with food science and is outlined in the future concept for urban food research "Food4Singapore". With the involvement of food research at the TUM and new expertise from the Leibniz Institute for Food Systems Biology (Prof. Veronika Somoza), the focal points microbiome, metabolism and prevention are to be further developed in the 3rd funding phase of the Central Institute of Food & Health.