November 21 through 22, the yearly Nordic Rye Forum Seminar was successfully held. The seminar started out with a joint lunch, which was followed by 30-minute intervals of interesting presentations, questions and discussions:
Anne Kirstine Eriksen, Danish Cancer Society Research Center: Whole grain, lignans and enterolactone in metabolic syndrome and type-2 diabetes;
Ville Koistinen, University of Finland: Annotation of phytochemicals in malted cereal grains: Fresh results from an ongoing study;
Marjukka Kolehmainen, University of Eastern Finland: Biomarkers for different types of cereals – state of the art: Summary of results from a recently published review article;
Markus Nikinmaa from VTT, Technical Research Centre of Finland: Processing technologies towards novel rye products.
For all available presentations; if shared, source must be stated (researcher and affiliation).
The following session consisted of open discussions, including among other things discussions on the need for an updated review in the area of rye and health and the Nordic Rye Forum in Social Media.
The evening ended with a very pleasant joint dinner, followed by rye sandwiches the morning after, innovative rye snacks by Lantmännen and a fruitful continuation of the seminar with more presentations:
Cecilie Kyrø, Danish Cancer Society Research Center: Whole grain, rye & health – a decade of epidemiological research;
Karin Jonsson, Chalmers University of Technology: Attitude and perception of food, health and whole grain in adolescents: Results from a collaboration with the Nobel Prize Museum;
Rikard Landberg, Chalmers University of Technology: Presentation of the Sustainability seminar held at Chalmers on the EAT-Lancet report and the Nordic version.
Engaged discussions followed; and the seminar was wrapped up, bringing a number of action points to take forward. The seminar was closed by a joint lunch.
The current status on biomarkers of different cereals, fractions and specific cereal foods was recently summarized by, among other, a number of research members from the Nordic Rye Forum. The researchers conducted a literature review about potential biomarkers of the intakes of wheat, oats, rye, barley and rice and the pseudo-cereal quinoa as well as of different grain fractions (whole grain, refined grain, bran).
The role of cereals in human health is dependent on whether they are consumed as refined or whole grain and on cereal species. To unravel the underlying mechanisms of health effects attributed to specific cereal foods and to provide more precise dietary advice, there is a need for improved dietary assessment of whole-grain intake. Dietary biomarkers of specific cereals, different fractions or cereal-containing foods could offer such a possibility, the authors stated.
The results of the review showed that odd-numbered alkylresorcinols reflect whole-grain wheat and rye intake and are the most well-studied and -evaluated biomarkers. Even-numbered alkylresorcinols may, on the other hand, reflect quinoa intake. Avenanthramides and avenacosides show potential to be used as specific biomarkers of oat intake, while other compounds suggested to reflect other cereals such as rice, are too unspecific. Moreover, no biomarkers that reflect refined grains currently exist.
The researchers concluded that several putative biomarkers of different cereals exist that need to be validated in human studies by criteria recently developed for food intake biomarker validation.
Read more here:
Landberg, Genes Nutr: 2019.
The 23:rd of May, Ville Koistinen defended his doctoral thesis from the University of Eastern Finland on ‘The effects of food processing and gut microbial metabolism on whole grain phytochemicals: A metabolomics approach ’. Below follows an interview with Ville where he tells us about his work.
What has your research/thesis been dealing with?
The studies included in my thesis aimed to investigate how phytochemicals in whole grain, especially rye and wheat, are affected by food processing and microbial metabolism. To accomplish this, we performed enzymatic bioprocessing of rye bran, different bread baking methods including sourdough, and gut microbial fermentation of bread and bran both in vitro and in a mouse model. Another important objective was to identify and annotate as many compounds as possible from the samples for future use by our group and the metabolomics community.
What are your main results?
Some of the most interesting results from the study include the great impact that sourdough fermentation has on the metabolite profile of rye: there were 110 phytochemicals, amino acids, peptides and other metabolites that had levels more than twice as high in sourdough bread compared to bread fermented with yeast only. Perhaps the most important finding was how bran-enriched diet increased the levels of “good” gut bacterial groups in mice and how these bacteria contributed to the production of a novel metabolite group, amino acid derived betaines.
What implications may your findings have for future research?
The studies conducted for this thesis were untargeted or semi-targeted metabolomics studies. This means that the new hypotheses rising from the results, such as the metabolism of certain phytochemicals, need to be verified with labelled standard compounds. It would also be worth investigating if only specific bacterial groups are responsible for the metabolism and whether this would lead to individual variability in the physiological response to phytochemicals.
What will you do ahead?
After the PhD defence in May this year, I have started a post doc project related to malted grains. Next year, I am also planning to continue working in the same research group at the University of Eastern Finland. I am also acknowledging that at some point I should work for some time in another university abroad to expand my experience. However, I feel like I belong to my hometown Kuopio and it would be a huge step to move away permanently.
What was the most challenging - and the most rewarding - about your PhD studies?
I think time management was my biggest challenge during the PhD studies. Although the work gives certain flexibility, it also requires you to be flexible in case a deadline is approaching. I found that as long as you keep your goals and progressing the work clearly in mind, even relatively poor time management can lead to good results. The most rewarding things during the years of PhD studies was the nice working environment and people here at the clinical nutrition department and the possibility to travel to several wonderful countries, such as Portugal and Japan.
Dr. Kati Hanhineva, Academy Research Fellow at University of Eastern Finland
Dr. Anna-Marja Aura, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
About Ville Koistinen
Ville lived during his childhood in a small town called Inkoo (Ingå in Swedish). They always had pets and even now he have two oriental shorthair cats at home. Ville have always been very interested in science, ever since he was a small kid. After trying some very different career paths, such as architecture and post office, he ended up studying Pharmacy in Kuopio based on recommendations from friends. He was supposed to finish only the bachelor’s degree and start working in a pharmacy, but then the passion for science took over and Ville decided to continue his studies further to become what he actually wanted since childhood: a scientist.