An integrated approach to the challenge of sustainable food systems: adaptive and mitigatory strategies to address climate change and malnutrition, SYSTEMIC
The study has been implemented within the frame of the project of the Ministry of Education and Science “Integrated national level measures for strengthening interest representations for research and development of Latvia as part of European Research Area”, No. 18.104.22.168/17/I/002.
The project contains four main work packages (streams). RSU participates in WP3 – Nutrition:
- 3.3 Physiological manifestations of sustainable diet;
- 3.4. Diet evaluation and a balanced diet in terms of nutrients: entry of data, work with scientific databases GHGE, FoodEx2 and water quality assessment. Development of a balanced diet taking into account climate change and the fact that many products will no longer be available. Instead, other products with different content of nutrients and micronutrients will be available;
- A contribution to Task 2.3 shall be provided: Innovative food that is based on new ingredients, materials and processes. Metastudies on meat substitutes and other types of innovative food will be carried out.
Project activities and aims
- Study of current food technologies with regard to their ability to adjust to the challenges associated with food acquisition
- Development of methods that would help make decisions under compromise conditions
- Identification of the shortage of knowledge and research needs and transferring this information to funding agencies and governments
- Dissemination of knowledge among industry, policy makers and transfer of knowledge for education and training
- Report on the consumption of nutrition sources and nutrients within the EU to illustrate the supply of nutrients and dietary diversity
- Report on current and possible diet models for a balanced diet and nutrient consumption taking into account alternative sources of food
Research outcomes will be used in drafting the EU FOOD 2030 strategy.
- Completed by 31 December 2020
RSU participates in the implementation of two tasks:
Task 3.3: Physiological manifestations of a sustainable diet
The aim of the task is to provide information on the physiological and functional effects of a sustainable diet:
- to demonstrate that both insufficient and excessive intake of certain nutrients causes impairment to metabolic and physiological functions;
- provide further support for the optimisation of food systems with a stronger focus on the link between nutrition and optimal functioning, as well as health and well-being in general.
The execution of the task involves identifying current and potential risk groups. Such risk groups appear due to climate change, changes in food composition and possible nutrient incompatibility with individual needs. Health risks are caused by both poor nutrition and overnutrition. Work on the identification of risk nutrients and their relation to food groups is underway. RSU researchers are currently carrying out an in-depth analysis of the risks associated with diet during pregnancy and lactation.
Literature is being reviewed to determine if new foodstuff can be used as a strategy to mitigate risk. Researchers have begun to assess the functional effects of traditional and modified dietary habits.
Task 2.3: New foodstuff created using new ingredients, materials, and processes
The aim of the task is to assess current gaps in knowledge and food production technologies, to link the information obtained to other tasks, and to provide recommendations for research and education programmes, as well as policy development.
Due to the negative environmental impact of food production, new types of food have to be developed, which mainly applies to the potential substitution of meat and animal derivatives with other high-protein products that emit less greenhouse gases, such as legumes. In order to preserve natural resources, the production of food enriched with minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants is also being developed, so that consumers can maintain and improve their health.
RSU researchers are participating in studying the impact of non-traditional raw materials, production process, and the properties of the final products on human health and functions.
- Completed by 30 June 2021
RSU participated in two tasks:
Task 3.3. Physiological effects of sustainable diets
Risk nutrients were identified – those nutrients that a woman could ingest insufficiently or excessively during pregnancy and lactation period. Scientific data were collected on these nutrients. Certain groups of women of reproductive age are at risk of ingesting minor nutrients. These can possibly be women who go on certain diets, are underweight or obese, adolescents, etc. As climate change has a major impact on the amount of these nutrients in foods, it is necessary to consider introducing novel foods on the market, which would be one of the strategies to mitigate these risks.
RSU scientists also analyse in detail the risks associated with infant nutrition. Lack of nutrients can have long-term consequences for infants – delaying the child's growth and development, as well as affecting health at later stages of life. Food insecurity due to climate change and fluctuations in ambient temperature can contribute to infant malnutrition.
Task 2.3. Novel foods based on new ingredients, materials, and processes
Within the framework of this task, the RSU working group started the development of a scientific article “Clinical aspects of the use of fermented products”. Many studies show a link between certain biologically active substances in food and the reduction of the risk of diet-related diseases. Fermented foods that contain probiotics – valuable live lactic acid bacteria or other microorganisms that can have a beneficial effect on human health – have become particularly popular. RSU scientists examined the scientific literature on possible antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory and other properties associated with the consumption of these products.
Nowadays, great attention is paid to foods, the consumption of which would contribute to the improvement of health and would be important in preventing diseases and inhibiting the progression of already existing diseases.
- Completed by 31 December 2021
RSU continued to work on the implementation of two tasks:
Task 3.3: The physiological effects of sustainable diets
Information was collected on the risk nutrients for women during pregnancy and lactation, as well as on the risks in infant nutrition and their connection to climate change. A joint international text was created as part of the project, in which national representatives compiled the most important information on individual nutrients that different population groups (seniors, children, vegetarians, pregnant women, infants, etc.) might take in in insufficient or excessive amounts.
Task 2.3: Novel foods based on new ingredients, materials, and processes
The RSU working group continued to develop the article “Fermentēto produktu lietošanas klīniskie aspekti” (Clinical aspects of the use of fermented products) that describes the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and other health-promoting properties of these products. It also outlines their impact on gastrointestinal diseases, the human intestinal microbiome, and on bone health.
Including fermented products in the diet helps absorb important vitamins and minerals and also contains probiotics and prebiotics, which have a wide range of effects on the human body.
The RSU working group applied for an international webinar on novel food with two reports: “Rudzu spēks” (The Power of Rye) and “Antioksidatīvās un antiradikālās īpašības granātābolu sulā” (The Antioxidant and Antiradical Properties of Pomegranate Juice).
- Completed by 30 June 2022
The scientific article "Clinical aspects of the use of fermented products" is in progress. A remote meeting with other scientific authors was held at the beginning of the year to discuss the structure of the article, what information has already been gathered, and the future work plan.
On 21 January 2022, the project's participants took part in an international webinar on novel foods and bioactive substances in foods with two presentations: The Power of Wholegrain and Antioxidant, and Antiradical Properties in Pomegranate Juice.
On 30 May 2022, a remote meeting was held with the other participants of Task 2.3 to discuss the researchers' progress and achievements in writing papers, as well as to discuss the international webinar and other topics that could be future perspectives.
Overall, work on Task 2.3 has been carried out during this semester and the first in person project meeting has been scheduled for autumn this year.