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High-Value Nutrition: products to boost immune defence against respiratory illness

13 October 2015

The first of the National Science Challenges: High-Value Nutrition, today announced an investment of $10.9 million over three and half years, for research to accelerate the translation of New Zealand-led science into scientifically validated food products for the Asian markets. 

Dr Elizabeth Forbes-Blom, Head of Gut Immunology at the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, is the Principal Investigator for one of the High-Value Nutrition’s priority research programmes that will investigate ways nutrition can improve immune defence against respiratory illness. This work has been allocated $3.5 million.

“Frequent colds, flu and respiratory tract infections are some of the top health issues in Asian countries. In large, densely populated cities, with low air quality and high pollution, finding foods to boost immune defence is vital. The gut is the most populace immune cell environment in the body, making it an ideal target for food to beneficially modulate immune function. Its surface area and vast microbial richness are just starting to be fully investigated with a corresponding rise in the potential to create targeted foods and beverages.” says Dr Forbes-Blom.

High-Value Nutrition has drawn together researchers from different institutions and across disciplines to deliver results through collaboration. This research team includes scientists from the Malaghan Institute as well as colleagues from Plant & Food Research, AgResearch and the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand. New Zealand is already a highly regarded food producer in Asia, and foods and beverages with scientifically validated immune defence benefits will generate new opportunities for New Zealand companies.

Dr Forbes continues, “This is an amazing opportunity with substantial potential, but we need to define the causal relationships for food and beverage products to build immune defence and measure these food-health relationships.”

Video links about High-Value Nutrition

Science and industry coming together to leverage food for health trend - https://youtu.be/0QlhVdKULwI

Health is the most important premium -extended interview Professor David Cameron-Smith, Science Director - https://youtu.be/pAgH8N1eDXk

Opportunities for NZ to capitalise on Asian megatrends extended interview Brett Hewlett, Industry Advisor and CEO Comvita - https://youtu.be/ChtmpzCi1_A

Lifting NZ up the food chain - extended interview Dr John Smart, Challenge Director - https://youtu.be/h-A4ge5eTTI

We need to create new scientifically validated nutritious products – extended interview Paul Morgan High-Value Nutrition Board Member - https://youtu.be/2FRCDcrNosE