Digestive Health

Assembling the puzzle of functional gut disorders and defining Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Our research focus

Gastrointestinal dysfunction makes it hard for the body to absorb nutrients. Discomfort and inflammation are other unwelcome gut related effects. Diet is a factor but the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood, especially when it comes to making cause-and-effect claims for particular foods. A pivotal weakness is the lack of understanding of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which is a common problem in Asian populations. This prevents New Zealand food producers making valid claims for gastrointestinal health benefits. To address this, High-Value Nutrition’s Digestive Health programme is conducting in-depth research, primarily via access to a large cohort of patients with IBS who are precisely phenotyped. Clinical evidence shows a food-health relationship for gut function and comfort using accepted biomarkers. The characterisation and description of biomarkers creates opportunities for  innovative food and beverage products from New Zealand.

Digestive Health highlights

Opportunity to add skills, ideas, experience to the Challenge

If you have a great idea or special expertise that you think would help High-Value Nutrition’s science teams meet their targets for the next five years (2019-2024) of the Challenge’s mission, then this is a gentle reminder that the deadline for the initial application...


Team snapshots

Professor Nicole Roy

Nicole is a Principal Scientist and the Science Team Leader of Food Nutrition & Health based at AgResearch in Palmerston North and principal investigator of the Digestive Health programme. Her research interest is in how nutrition and food components can modify inter-organ nutrient partitioning. Nicole is also an Adjunct Associate Professor Senior Lecturer at the Riddet Institute, in Palmerston North.