Molecular nutrition

In the area of molecular nutrition, the focus is on the bioavailability of specific dietary components and nutrients, their molecular effects on biological systems and the role of maternal diet in early life nutrition.

Bioavailability of nutrients

Studies of the absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion and bioavailability of specific dietary compounds including bioactive compounds and nutrients are conducted in various model systems. A major focus is the bioavailability of iron and zinc from plant-based foods depending on the main absorption inhibitors phytate and polyphenols.

The goal is to improve the bioavailability by using biological food processing methods and the development of next generations healthy and sustainable plant-based foods. We are also conducting nutrient bioavailability studies in intestinal cell models investigating e.g. heavy metal and iodine uptake from seaweeds and uptake of iron from plant-hemoglobins.

Diet interventions in humans are performed as well as measurement of the iron, zinc, vitamins D and B12 status in pregnant and lactating women and their children from our NICE cohort in relation to intake of plant-based foods.

Pharmacokinetic studies in humans are performed to study the fate of bioactive compounds in humans and to estimate critical parameters such as their half-life and relative bioavailability. This includes modelling with the aim to develop foods that provides specific compounds at levels related to health outcomes.

Nutritional cell biology

The research focuses on food or nutrient-derived effects on human cell- or tissue-level, where we investigate mechanisms of nutrient absorption or transport across intestinal epithelia, mechanisms for growth-promotion, nutrient regulation of intestinal enzyme activity, pro- or anti-inflammatory effects of nutrients or food components and more.

We use epithelial primary cells, cancer cell lines in single or co-cultures and tissue cultures to understand the correlation between intake of specific nutrients/food molecules and disease-associated cellular events and to use mechanistic knowledge to design novel foods and dietary supplements. Human intervention studies are conducted in connection to this research sub-area.

Maternal diet and early life nutrition

This research focus on the influence of maternal diet and early life nutrition on immune maturation and allergy development in infants.

The work involves the Chalmers co-founded mother-child birth cohorts NICE and FARMFLORA.

In NICE, the overall aim is to study how the environment – nutrition, microbes, and environmental toxins - during pregnancy and the first years of life influence maturation of the immune system and development of allergy, cognition and caries (extensive biobank, multi omics methodologies).The goal is to find novel strategies for prevention and prediction of allergy.

In FARMFLORA, the aim is to identify factors (diet and nutrients, gut and airway microbiota) that may be part of the allergy protection of the farming environment. Maternal diet vs pregnancy outcomes (preterm deliveries and preeclampsia) and birth outcomes (neonatal health, birth weight, length and weight) is also studied as part of the large Norwegian prospective cohort MoBa.


Malin Minborg, MSc student

Plant based foods and health

We study the role of carbohydrate quality and specific bioactive compounds founds in plant-based foods on cardiometabolic health. Carbohydrates are central components in plant-based foods. The intake of whole grains, dietary fibre, sugars and the glycemic index/glycemic load are important features of carbohydrate quality in the diet and highly relevant for health.

A high whole grain intake is ranked as one of the most important dietary factors for prevention of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. However, whole grains from different cereals vary in composition and quality. Furthermore, processing affects the composition and physiochemical properties of grain-based foods with implication for physiological response.

We conduct dietary interventions with well characterized foods to improve our understanding of the role of carbohydrate qualities such as GI, dietary fibre content and composition on satiety and weight loss, and identify biomarkers of responders/non-responders.

We are particularly interested in the role of gut microbiota, short chain fatty acids and other gut fermentation products as mediators and determinants of the health effects of dietary fibre-rich foods.

We also investigate the effects of specific phenolic compounds from oats and coffee in relation to cardiometabolic risk factors in subjects at elevated risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.