AFH Research Strategy
The research strategy for Arla Food for Health (AFH) originates from the AFH vision “Discovering health effects of dairy and dairy ingredients”. The goal is to uncover health effects of dairy products and dairy ingredients to determine their position in a healthy sustainable diet. To achieve this, a deeper understanding of the health effects of dairy products and dairy derived ingredients is needed, both alone and in combination with other food constituents.
AFH supports WHO’s definition of healthy sustainable diets as being dietary patterns that support health and have minimal environmental impact. Furthermore, a sustainable healthy diet needs to be affordable, culturally acceptable, accessible, and increase biodiversity. Thus, AFH seeks to understand the health effects of dairy products and dairy derived ingredients in recommended diets throughout the world. This includes the use of dairy products and ingredients in plant-rich or local diets, as well as studies addressing nutrition for specific consumer groups, such as infants, elderly, and vulnerable individuals.
AFH emphasizes multidisciplinary research approaches combining health effects with physical and chemical characterization of foods. This is emphasized since dairy products and dairy derived ingredients function both as individual components and as part of food matrices.
Within this framework, AFH supports research within the following selected areas:
- Metabolic health with emphasis on cause-effect relations between dairy products and dairy derived ingredients and health related outcomes. This includes metabolic responses in different consumer groups to enable targeted nutritional strategies that for example regulate infant growth, increase satiety, and prevent the development of obesity and non-communicable diseases.
- Gastro-intestinal health with emphasis on understanding the role of dairy/dairy ingredients in development and maintenance of a healthy gut function. This includes the role of the gut microbiota/metabolome in regulation of host metabolism and health, as well as food digestion and absorption of macro- and micronutrients, and how these factors affect health outcomes.
- Healthy growth and development with emphasis on understanding the role of dairy products and dairy derived ingredients on bone, muscle, and brain throughout life. This includes infant growth, optimized bone and muscle function, and prevention/remedy of muscle atrophy and osteoporosis. It also includes nutritional strategies to support the development of the brain and to prevent cognitive decline during ageing.
- Nutrition research with emphasis on understanding factors such as bioavailability, food matrix, naturalness vs. fortification, nutrient absorption, and physiochemical properties of dairy products and dairy derived ingredients. This include research aimed at further refinement of methods used to assess the nutritional quality and health properties of foods.
Human research studies investigating the effects of dairy products/ingredients on health related outcomes are of particular interest. If animal models or human models of specific diseases are applied, it should be explained why such experiments are of specific interest, and it should be considered if the findings can be translated to humans and the general population. Studies aimed to provide mechanistic understanding of dairy’s health effects are welcomed.
AFH does not support:
- Projects directly encompassing specific product and process development
- Dental science
- Individual research chairs/professorships
- Major equipment investments
- Non-dairy ingredient testing
To support the research strategy, AFH will once a year fund research projects within one or more of the specific research areas. Every year the call for application will further specify research topics of particular interest related to the selected research areas.