New Project – Sustainable European food systems using microorganisms – the SIMBA Project

SIMBA project

I’m happy to present another new project, SIMBA, not too long after introducing the Greenland Inuit dietary intervention study.

In a recent press release, the overall aim of the project was nicely presented. “SIMBA is a project funded by the European Union that will explore the potential of using microorganisms in plants and animals to improve food security and promote sustainable food production. This is to tackle the growing challenge of supplying food to a growing global population amidst the climate change crisis, through innovative activities around food systems using microorganisms.”

The research in this project is structured around studying microbiome applications in food systems to achieve sustainable innovative solutions for the growing demand for food and for agricultural production around the world. What I’m involved in is a minor part of the larger project. Here we are to test a product that lives up to the above description. Since this involves a company, I cannot reveal too much about the product yet, but this will involve conducting a human intervention study, which I look forward to beginning in Autumn 2019.

As the world population increases and the global climate is changing, we need to find suitable solutions for the supply of food so that it will not become a problem in the future. Worldwide, the demand for food and for agricultural produce is predicted to increase by up to 70% by 2050. Thus, there is an urgent need to improve and be innovative in our food production systems, which needs to meet this increasing demand for food. Here we hope that the SIMBA project will show the potential of microorganisms in this process.

You can follow the project on twitter @SIMBAproject_EU or follow my blog for specific updates on my little part of this huge project.

New Project – The Greenland Inuit diet intervention

Nuuk_city_below_SermitsiaqI’m happy to announce that I’m working on a new project which is centered around a dietary intervention study in Greenland. The overall objective of the study is to investigate a traditional Inuit diet compared to a westernized diet in Greenland Inuit. The reason we are examining this is that the lifestyle of Inuit in Greenland is undergoing a transition from a fisher-hunter society, with a physically active lifestyle and a diet based on the food available from the natural environment, to a westernized society. Parallel to this, a rapid increase in the prevalence of lifestyle diseases such as type 2 diabetes and obesity has been observed[1]. What we are especially interested in is whether switching to a more traditional Inuit diet could improve glycemic control and thus prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.

Studies of Greenland Inuit before the 1980s found a low prevalence of type 2 diabetes compared to Western populations, however, recent population studies in Greenland have found a higher prevalence of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes[2,3]. This might in part be explained by the transition in lifestyle, but in addition, a genetic variant increasing the susceptibility to type 2 diabetes have been found to be prevalent in the Greenland Inuit [4], thus further increasing their risk of type 2 diabetes. Therefore, the objective of our study is also to assess whether this gene modifies the effect of following a traditional Inuit diet.

What is a traditional Inuit diet? This is of course hard to examine but multiple studies have tried to assess this in Greenland throughout the last 100 years. They have found that the traditional food of the Greenland Inuit included sea mammals, fish, seafood, and to a lesser degree terrestrial animals and game birds. The sea mammals include walrus, seal meat and blubber, dried whale meat and skin. Fish are local and include halibut, cod, char, salmon and trout, and seafood such as mussels, shrimps, or crab. The terrestrial animals and game birds include lamb, caribou, musk ox, hare, guillemot, eider duck, and eggs from these birds[5–8]. This result is the traditional Inuit diet being higher in fat and protein and lower in carbohydrate compared to a westernized/Danish diet. We have designed the traditional western diet so that it will contain meat from chicken, cow, and pig, as well as having a high amount of cereal products, bread, pasta and rice (carbohydrate).

The study is designed to be a 4-week cross-over intervention study, meaning that each participant has to follow both dietary interventions for 4 weeks in a random order. The study is expected to provide relevant information in relation to whether diet has a role in preventing type 2 diabetes in Greenland and also whether this might be dependent on which genes you have. We have obtained ethical approval for the project and we are currently working on getting all the practical stuff in order so we can begin recruiting participants. The project will start in Nuuk this April, fingers crossed.

The study was initiated by Marit Eika Jørgensen, Lotte Lauritzen and I. The project is a collaboration between researchers at the University of Copenhagen, Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen, University of Southern Denmark and University of Greenland. It is funded by The Novo Nordisk Foundation who plays no role in the design, methods, data management and analysis or in the decision to publish the results of the study.


[1]         Hansen JC, Deutch B, Odland JØ. Dietary transition and contaminants in the Arctic: emphasis on Greenland. Int J Circumpolar Health 2008;67:1–98. doi:10.1080/22423982.2007.11864604.

[2]         Jørgensen ME, Bjeregaard P, Borch-Johnsen K. Diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance among the inuit population of Greenland. Diabetes Care 2002;25:1766–71.

[3]         Jørgensen ME, Borch-Johnsen K, Witte DR, et al. Diabetes in Greenland and its relationship with urbanization. Diabet Med 2012;29:755–60. doi:10.1111/j.1464-5491.2011.03527.x.

[4]         Moltke I, Grarup N, Jørgensen ME, et al. A common Greenlandic TBC1D4 variant confers muscle insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Nature 2014;512:190–3. doi:10.1038/nature13425.

[5]         Bjerregaard P, Jeppesen C. Inuit dietary patterns in modern Greenland. Int J Circumpolar Health 2010;69:13–24.

[6]         Deutch B, Dyerberg J, Pedersen HS, et al. Traditional and modern Greenlandic food — Dietary composition, nutrients and contaminants. Sci Total Environ 2007;384:106–19. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2007.05.042.

[7]         Bang HO, Dyerberg J, Hjøorne N. The composition of food consumed by Greenland Eskimos. Acta Med Scand 1976;200:69–73.

[8]         Jeppesen C, Bjerregaard P, Jørgensen ME. Dietary patterns in Greenland and their relationship with type 2 diabetes mellitus and glucose intolerance. Public Health Nutr 2014;17:462–70. doi:10.1017/S136898001300013X.

Vitamin B12 for brainy children

Vitamin B12 for brainy childrenSo, tomorrow we are having a journal club at work (no, we are not sitting around reading each other’s diaries) where I have chosen an article, which we are going to discuss.

Kvestad et al. 2017 “Vitamin B-12 status in infancy is positively associated with development and cognitive functioning 5 y later in Nepalese children”[1].

I’m currently doing research on Vitamin B12, cognition and metabolism in early life (0-3 years of age) and the reason I’m interested in vitamin B12 during this period of life is that it is essential for the brain and the intellectual development of the child.

The study in the article shows some very convincing associations between higher vitamin B12 status at age 2-12 months and better cognitive outcomes in 5-year-old children. They also use the ASQ (Age and Stages Questionnaire) score [2] as an outcome –it measures five subscales of development including communication, problem-solving, gross and fine motor development and personal-social development. I’m also going to be using the ASQ score as a measure of child development in my research.

One of the things I look forward to investigate in my project is if we see similar associations in our population, which have a much higher intake of vitamin B12 in their diet and thus should have a much higher status. This could enlighten us (here I mean mankind) further and possibly shed some light on what levels of vitamin B12 are sufficient for optimal brain and intellectual development. This can aid in establishing guidelines and design potential interventions for improving status among children with low vitamin B12 status. Something it looks like the same group is currently doing in an intervention study as well which I’m looking forward to very much[3].

Hopefully, this will be one step in the right direction for getting super brainy children in the future.


[1]         Kvestad I, Hysing M, Shrestha M, et al. Vitamin B-12 status in infancy is positively associated with development and cognitive functioning 5 y later in Nepalese children. Am J Clin Nutr 2017;105:1122–31. doi:10.3945/ajcn.116.144931.

[2]         Squires J, Bricker D. Ages & Stages Questionaires. Third Edit. Baltimore: Brooks Publishing; 2009.

[3]         Strand TA, Ulak M, Chandyo RK, et al. The effect of vitamin B12 supplementation in Nepalese infants on growth and development: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials 2017;18:187. doi:10.1186/s13063-017-1937-0.


Mads Vendelbo LindSo, nutrition and especially nutrition science is a popular field, where there is an endless amount of information (some more useful than others). So, you might think, why do I want to read another blog about it?

Well, you do! Because this blog is about how science is actually performed using my own research as an example. This will not be a blog about the super-duper-health-effects of some unknown plant/seed coming out of central Fantasyland. As I’m quite a foodie myself, I tend to believe that all foods are good, happy and comforting superfoods – we just need to eat them in appropriate amounts (and I must admit, I struggle with finding the appropriate amount of cake).

I have a bachelor’s degree in Food Science and a master’s degree in Human Nutrition, both from the University of Copenhagen. I did my PhD as a double degree working at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden at the Department of Food Science and Nutrition as well as at the University of Copenhagen, Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports. The latter is where I currently work, which involves doing research and teaching for bachelors, masters and PhD students.

As with all research, my research has to be funded (since before mentioned Fantasyland doesn’t seem to exist). Either by companies, private investors, NGOs or government funding programs – or others (feel free to send me your advice…or a check). I have received funding from both companies and government funding programs – which for some means I cannot be trusted. I will try to update my potential conflict of interest so you can decide yourself whether you trust the things I write or not.

I hope that you find the blog interesting and if you have any questions, feel free to send them to me through the contact page.

Welcome on board and let’s eat some science…and cake!