Laboratorium tour during Healthy Nutrition Conference

The Centre for Healthy Eating and Food Innovation (HEFI) opened its new research facilities in 2018. In this new scientific research centre from Maastricht University campus Venlo, which is conveniently located in the conference venue (Villa Flora), the health aspects of food and nutrition are being studied. In the Food Innovation and Health laboratories, the effects of food on health, and more specifically on the prevention and treatment of a variety of health concerns are investigated in healthy subjects as well as in patients. The psychology of eating, including sensory analysis of food, is under investigation in the Behavioural Gastronomy facilities.

During the guided laboratory tour, you will be visiting the research facilities of Food Innovation and Health and Behavioural Gastronomy. The tour enables you to discuss research opportunities with the principal investigators leading the research.

The lab tour will take place on June 27 during the afternoon break betweek 15:30 – 16:00. Meeting point registration desk. [no more tickets available].

Behavioural gastronomy
The Laboratory of Behavioural Gastronomy’s (LABEGAS) research focuses on the following items: chemosensory, aetiology of food likes (and dislikes) and environmental factors.

Behavioural gastronomy is a sub-discipline of food science that focuses on the study of food choice and intake from a psychological perspective. LABEGAS is particularly interested in the psychology behind eating. For instance: how does the sense of taste or smell influences preference of certain foods? LABEGAS also examines the role environmental factors play in determining appetite and eating patterns.


  • Furthering food science
  • Promoting healthy eating
  • Informing food product innovation
  • Informing food and health policy

Food Innovation and Health
The research line Food, Innovation and Health aims to bridge the gap between human nutrition science and its application for actual food product development. Scientific research on food innovation and health in humans will be supported by mechanistic studies in in vitro systems (cell lines and organoids).

Human nutrition and health studies are often limited to the health consequences of the intake of isolated nutritional ingredients. But humans don’t consume single ingredients, they eat whole foods. To assure scientific progress ‘Food, Innovation and Health’ studies the effects of actual food items, making their studies relevant and applicable to real-world situations.


  • Prevent common morbidities in the elderly (sarcopenia and osteoporosis)
  • Design food innovations targeted at obese and type-2 diabetic patients
  • Design innovations for the agricultural sector and study its health effects

Microbiology of the gastrointestinal tract
If you want to stay healthy, you have to eat healthy. The Centre for Healthy Eating &Food Innovation (HEFI) conducts research into the promotion of healthy eating, and acquires knowledge on the health effects of food and the development of new, healthy food products. HEFI strongly targets the general public and focuses on three dimensions that are important for the promotion of healthy eating:

  • the food itself
  • the individual consumer
  • the environment of individuals

Food enters our gastrointestinal (GI) tract. However, what happens with food (components) in the GI tract is difficult to study. The team uses sophisticated, validated, dynamic in vitro models of the GI tract which closely mimic the conditions in real life to study what happens with (functional) foods. One model mimics the stomach and small intestine and investigates digestion of food (components), with the aim to investigate breakdown and absorption. The second model mimics the large intestine -or colon- which contains an immense number of microorganisms, collectively called the gut microbiota. These models can mimic humans, pigs, dogs, calves and chickens. For humans, there are protocols for babies, adults and the elderly.

The intestinal microbiota plays an important role in many diseases and disorders by interacting with the host. Some of our nutrition is not digested and absorbed in the upper GI tract and it therefore provides nutrients for microbiota. At our centre, researchers are working on models that mimic the composition and/or activity of the microbiota, with the ultimate aim to improve health status.

Information about both food breakdown in and absorption from the digestive tract and the bioactivity of the absorbed components in the body are essential for the development of innovative healthy food. Furthermore, unabsorbed components interact with the gut microbiota and can consequently also influence health and disease.

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