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Symposium: Optimising food and fibre composition

Trends towards more plant-based foods and reduction of levels of sugars and fats may contribute to a higher intake of fibres. The symposium will present new insights and technologies for exploring and optimising synergistic effects and thereby contributing to personal and public health.

12:45 - (CET)
Naturalis Leiden, Darwinweg 2

Registration closed

Enhancing microbial and general health

Diets high in whole grains, fruit, vegetables, other plant-based foods and dietary fibre are recommended worldwide. Trends towards more plant-based foods, alternatives for meat and dairy and reduction of the levels of sugars and fats in foods are expected to result in a higher intake of a wide range of fibres.

These developments offer new opportunities for optimising food and fibre composition for enhancing microbial and general health. Recent studies indicate the importance of beneficial synergistic effects of combinations, of fibres and of fibres with other bioactive compounds. The symposium will highlight these developments with examples of recent insights and results -  including those of TNO’s “No Guts No Glory“ project and personalised nutrition studies - and will discuss ways for further exploring this complex and challenging field.

Biodiverse high fibre diets are connected to a biodiverse gut microbiome, no dysbiosis and a substantial risk reduction for both metabolic and infection diseases. Since such diets are far remoted from current food intake, finding and optimising beneficial combinations of fibres and other bioactive compounds packed in attractive products may deliver important benefits for personal and public health


Symposium chair: Wim van Hartingsveldt, TNO


Registration and welcome.

Jan Willem van der Kamp


Searching for synergistic effects of fibres and co-passengers. A new trend?.

Bruce Hamaker and Cantu Jungles

Whistler Center for Carbohydrate Research, Purdue University, USA.

Alignment of dietary fibers with gut bacteria for robust and predicted response.

Femke Hoevenaars


No Guts No Glory project - Lessons learned.

Frank Schuren


Targeted microbiome modulation through dietary fibres: a new chapter in precision nutrition.


Coffee and tea.

Stefano Renzetti

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research.

From a universal sugar replacement strategy towards unlocking the power of fibre-rich by-products.

Louise Dye

University of Leeds, UK.

Strategies for increasing the fibre intake for low-income consumers.

Suzan Wopereis


You are what you wheat.  Impact of whole wheat and fibres on health – and innovative ways for testing health effects.

Final remarks

Followed by drinks.


Jan Willem van der Kamp (TNO): Searching for synergistic effects of fibres and co-passengers. A new trend?

As shown by meta-analyses (e.g. Reynolds, 2019) , a daily intake of 25 g of dietary fibre is associated with  general health benefits and risk reduction for non-communicable diseases. Similar beneficial effects are associated with an intake of ~ 50 g of whole grains, which contain no more than 5 – 7 g of fibre, along with a wide range of other bioactive substances.

Blends of fibre and of fibre with other compounds also contribute to microbial health. In addition to the examples provided in the next presentations, studies show that less fermentable substances s as wheat- and oat bran and other plant materials strongly support well fermentable fibre in promoting the diversity and abundance of the gut microbiota. Non- fermentable or poorly  fermentable insoluble fibres may also serve as an ideal “dinner table” for micro-organisms.

Finding guiding principles for synergistic effects – both for health benefits and sensory product quality -is a highly relevant challenge that should be supported by insights into consumer opinions and preferences.

Bruce Hamaker (Director Whistler Center for Carbohydrate Research) and Cantu Jungles: Alignment of dietary fibers with gut bacteria for robust and predicted response.

The idea of aligning fiber structures for preferential support of either individual gut-resident probiotic bacteria or bacterial groups comes from observations of low and high specificity of fiber chemical and physical structures to gut microbiota function. Such matching of fibers to gut bacteria holds the promise of a robust and predictable fiber response that is consistent for population benefit. Examples will be given for individual fibers identified to promote specific beneficial bacteria as well as mixtures of fibers that support key core groups of gut bacteria, and clinical trial results of the latter. Similar fiber structure-function relationships affect rate and location of fermentation in the colon, and work will also be presented on ways to delay fermentation.

Femke Hoevenaars (TNO): No Guts No Glory Project - Lessons Learned

The importance of fibre intake for our general health, and not only for our gut microbiota, is appreciated more and more. However, average consumption is far below the recommended amounts. In the Netherlands women consume on average 18 grams of fibre per day while the recommendation is 30 grams, and men consume about 22 grams of the recommended 40 grams per day. Fibre consumption affects our microbiome composition which also affects microbiome function.

Therefore, health can be influenced by changing gut microbiome composition. A randomized placebo-controlled crossover clinical trial was performed called No Guts No Glory. In this study we evaluated the effect of 12 weeks of daily nutritional fibre consumption (13gr in the form of a dietary supplement) on gut microbiome composition in relation to post-prandial responses of plasma biomarkers reflecting metabolism. We investigated if there is a relation between microbiome modulation and metabolic flexibility. Furthermore, we investigated the possibility to compare individual in vitro fermentation effects of the fibre mixture to the effects of 12 week  fibre consumption in a clinical setting for future pre-screening possibilities.

Frank Schuren (Senior Scientist): Targeted microbiome modulation through dietary fibres: a new chapter in precision nutrition.

Improving health and preventing disease is now an important aspect of healthcare. Dietary fibres are generally considered as healthy and to function, amongst others, via the gut microbiome. Although positive effects of increased fibre intake on human health are described, it has also become clear that not every fibre is effective for every individual (and its gut microbiome). To further improve health effects a better alignment of choosing the right fibres for a specific individual is highly needed. We have shown that short-term in vitro exposure of individual microbiome samples to selected fibres is predictive for longer-term in vivo effect and that depending on the selected fibre(s), the differences between individuals are large or small. Application of these new insights in precision  nutrition will be discussed.

Stefano  Renzetti (Senior Scientist Wageningen Food & Biobased Research): From a universal sugar replacement strategy towards unlocking the power of fibre-rich by-products

Recently, our group has defined a universal sugar replacement strategy based on physical chemical principles. The strategy is centred on the hypothesis that the plasticizing and hygroscopic properties of sugars has to be mimicked to obtain similar texture in sugar replaced foods. This strategy has been validated for biscuits and cakes, using measurements of both physical and sensorial attributes. However, ongoing research is showing the broader applicability of the principles to other product categories. Using the strategy, multiple blends of commercial ingredients can be optimally designed, leaving room for fine tuning towards e.g. dietary fibre content.

In this contribution, we first discuss the physical-chemical principles behind the sugar replacement strategy, and its validation for biscuits and cakes by demonstrating the relations with food structure and sensory. Subsequently, we show the extension of these physical-chemical principles to cell wall materials such as (mixtures of) arabinoxylans and xylo-oligosaccharides. Finally, we show the potential towards more holistic approaches to design nutrient-dense products like bakery and snacks with desired sensory properties. Overall, the approach here presented shows potential for promoting a more flexible use of fibre-rich by-products as highly functional ingredients.

Louise Dye (Professor of Nutrition and Behaviour, University of Leeds): Strategies for increasing the fibre intake for low-income consumers.

Most people do not eat enough fibre. Why is fibre intake so low when health messages are clear?

Differences between actual and recommended intake may stem from consumers’ inaccurate perceptions of fibre intake. Alternatively, consumers may intend to consume more fibre but fail to do so for various reasons including misunderstanding of what is a high fibre food, or gastrointestinal symptoms, constipation or taste dissuading uptake and leading to the intention-behaviour gap.

Low socio-economic status is associated with poorer diet and health inequalities in part related to low fibre intake. Rising food poverty is a further factor influencing fibre intake with these consumers having less agency over their food choice and increasing concern about energy cost of cooking higher fibre foods. Increasing consumer understanding, access to high fibre foods and opportunities for product development which confers beneficial effects at no cost to taste and without increasing energy for cooking are strategies to be considered.

The h3 offers companies the opportunity to collaborate on and trial health by stealth product reformulation in low income consumers and in products for children aimed at introducing and encouraging higher fibre foods in these consumer segments.

Suzan Wopereis (Principal Scientist, TNO): You are what you wheat. Impact of whole wheat and fibres on health – and innovative ways for testing health effects.

Food and nutrition including whole wheat and fibres have subtle and long-term health effects via a myriad of underlying mechanisms which is difficult to accurately quantify especially within a healthy population of free living persons, who will not always comply to the intervention of interest and who have a large degree of interindividual variation.

Therefore, innovative methodology referred to as ‘phenotypic flexibility’ was developed that may be more sensitive in detecting health effects from food and nutrition as well as in the quantification of human variability, allowing for the development of more personalized nutrition strategies. Within this lecture multiple examples will be shown of how this innovative methodology for testing health effects was applied to show the impact of whole wheat and fibres on health from a one-size-fits-all as well as from a personalized approach and you will test yourself how wheat you are!

For practical information, please contact Rieke Merkus ([email protected]).

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