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Diet and health

The Nutrigenomics New Zealand research programme has used Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD, and inclusive of Crohns Disease and colitis) as its model system to study the effect of diet on this disorder. We now know that there are common physiological pathways that underlie a number of inflammatory disorders, and can thus apply our research to such conditions as asthma, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, eczema, Type 1 diabetes and some cancers.

Our specialised techniques have revealed some compounds that may be active against inflammation. These bioactive phytochemicals in foods continue to be characterised and their effects studied in relation to inflammatory response models.

Such knowledge leads to the development of diets that may help those suffering from inflammatory disorders. Such diets may alleviate those with current symptoms as well as provide a longer term protective effect for the wider population.

With knowledge of the relationship between diet and a person’s genetically-determined response to it, we can provide a measurable and predictable response to personalised nutrition.

Our studies have also revealed new biomarkers of inflammatory conditions in our model systems, thus opening up the potential for non-invasive biomarkers for use as a diagnostic or screening tool for clinicians.