Food, Nutrition & Dietetics

From fuelling our growth to helping prevent disease, food — and what we choose to eat — has a big impact on our lives.

Our Food, Nutrition and Dietetics programmes are number one in the Complete University Guide league table and ranked second in The Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide 2015.

Our Department of Nutritional Sciences is home to a vibrant research community and leading academics who’ll help you develop the knowledge and skills you’ll need for a career in this increasingly important field.

What we're researching

Nutrition research that changes lives

Our diets affect us in countless different ways, from health and wellbeing to productivity and lifestyle. 

Researchers in our Department of Nutrition and Metabolism are key members of multidisciplinary international collaborations investigating cardiovascular health, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, sleep and environmental health. 

They have made important breakthroughs in a number of key genetic and environmental disease factors, and in socio-cultural factors affecting human health. It’s no wonder that postgraduate researchers from this discipline have won our Research Student of the Year award twice in the past three years. 

Securing food for the future

Food security is a major concern for all countries. More than one billion people suffer from malnutrition, so it’s essential that no food goes to waste.

Nazlin Howell, Professor of Food Biochemistry, has been sponsored by the European Commission to undertake SECUREFISH, a three year project worth 4 million Euros, to improve food security by reducing post-harvest losses in the fisheries sector.

SECUREFISH aims to research and develop low cost processing technology that will better preserve caught fish, utilise by-catch and reduce waste from fish filleting by using the leftover bones, heads and skin to create bioactive proteins and peptides with health benefits. The processing and quality control tools will be put to the test by a consortium of partners in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It’s a positive step towards achieving the UN Millennium Development Goal to end hunger and poverty.

Award-winning Iodine research

A study into the risks of iodine deficiency earned Dr Sarah Bath, a researcher in nutrition, the title of 2012 Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences Research Student of the Year.

Sarah assessed the iodine status in UK pregnant women and the dietary sources that contributed to their intake, and evaluated the impact that maternal iodine deficiency during pregnancy could have on brain development in children.

Her research found that the iodine concentration of organic milk — often favoured by pregnant women — is lower than that of conventional milk, a concern as milk is an important source of iodine in the UK diet.

Could broccoli be the key to beating cancer?

It’s widely accepted that what we eat has a key impact on our health.

Vegetable-rich diets have repeatedly been linked to lower rates of common cancers. Vegetables from the cruciferous family, including broccoli, cauliflower and watercress, are known to contain chemicals that help the body protect itself from cancer-causing pollutants.

What we don’t know is how much we need to eat for optimum protection.

We’re looking into it. After all, why spend money and resources designing a synthetic drug to protect us from cancer when common vegetables may have the answer?

Vitamin D: diets and deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency is a very common problem in the UK — especially amongst South Asian populations, and in white Caucasians during the winter months. Low vitamin D levels can have very serious consequences, including osteoporosis, and bone fractures and other health outcomes.

Researchers from our Department of Nutritional Sciences recently won a £0.75M grant from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to investigate the difference between the two types of vitamin D (vitamin D2 and D3) and determine which is better for our health. Professor Susan Lanham-New, who leads the project, said: “It used to be thought that both types were equally beneficial. However, our new analysis of published data highlights that our bodies may react differently to each and that vitamin D3 could actually be better for us when given as a supplement at doses of 1000 IU or above.”

The team of Dr Laura Tripkovic (the D2-D3 Study PostDoc) and Louise Wilson (the D2-D3 study PhD student) are now investigating whether the same results are found when the vitamins are added to food, rather than taken as supplements and at lower doses. If so, the research could lead to major changes to the food industry.

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