Save the Date | TNO Symposium on Optimising Food and Fibre Composition for Enhancing Microbial and General Health

You are cordially invited to the TNO Symposium on Optimising Food and Fibre Composition for Enhancing Microbial and General Health on the 20th of September 2023 at Naturalis in Leiden.


Register here >


This symposium emphasizes the importance of beneficial synergistic effects of combinations of fibres and their interactions with other compounds. Moreover, we celebrate the end of 38 years at TNO of Jan-Willem van der Kamp.


Trends towards more plant-based foods and reduction of levels of sugars and fats may contribute to a higher intake of fibres. This symposium will present new insights and technologies for exploring and optimising synergistic effects and thereby contributing to personal and public health.


Venue and schedule

Practical info | Naturalis

Programme from 1 - 5 pm, followed by farewell reception. Optionally preceded by a visit to the new TNO facilities next to Naturalis.
Please register before September 8th. Further information will follow afterwards.



Jan Willem van der Kamp | Searching for synergistic effects of fibres and co-passengers. A new trend?

As shown by meta-analyses (e.g. Reynolds, 2019) , a daily intake of 25 g of dietary fibre is associated with  general health benefits and risk reduction for non-communicable diseases. Similar beneficial effects are associated with an intake of ~ 50 g of whole grains, which contain no more than 5 – 7 g of fibre, along with a wide range of other bioactive substances.

Blends of fibre and of fibre with other compounds also contribute to microbial health. In addition to the examples provided in the next presentations, studies show that less fermentable substances s as wheat- and oat bran and other plant materials strongly support well fermentable fibre in promoting the diversity and abundance of the gut microbiota. Non- fermentable or poorly  fermentable insoluble fibres may also serve as an ideal “dinner table” for micro-organisms.

Finding guiding principles for synergistic effects – both for health benefits and sensory product quality -is a highly relevant challenge that should be supported by insights into consumer opinions and preferences.


Bruce Hamaker and Cantu Jungles | Alignment of dietary fibers with gut bacteria for robust and predicted response

The idea of aligning fibre structures for preferential support of either individual gut-resident probiotic bacteria or bacterial groups comes from observations of low and high specificity of fibre chemical and physical structures to gut microbiota function. Such matching of fibres to gut bacteria holds the promise of a robust and predictable fibre response that is consistent for population benefit. Examples will be given for individual fibres identified to promote specific beneficial bacteria as well as mixtures of fibres that support key core groups of gut bacteria, and clinical trial results of the latter. Similar fibre structure-function relationships affect rate and location of fermentation in the colon, and work will also be presented on ways to delay fermentation.


Frank Schuren | Targeted microbiome modulation through dietary fibres: a new chapter in precision nutrition

Improving health and preventing disease is now an important aspect of healthcare. Dietary fibres are generally considered healthy and to function, amongst others, via the gut microbiome. Although positive effects of increased fibre intake on human health are described, it has also become clear that not every fibre is effective for every individual (and its gut microbiome). To further improve health effects a better alignment of choosing the right fibres for a specific individual is highly needed. We have shown that short-term in vitro exposure of individual microbiome samples to selected fibres is predictive for longer-term in vivo effect and that depending on the selected fibre(s), the differences between individuals are large or small. Application of these new insights in precision nutrition will be discussed.


Stefano Renzetti | From a universal sugar replacement strategy towards unlocking the power of fibre-rich by-products

Recently, our group has defined a universal sugar replacement strategy based on physical chemical principles. The strategy is centred on the hypothesis that the plasticizing and hygroscopic properties of sugars has to be mimicked to obtain similar texture in sugar replaced foods. This strategy has been validated for biscuits and cakes, using measurements of both physical and sensorial attributes. However, ongoing research is showing the broader applicability of the principles to other product categories. Using the strategy, multiple blends of commercial ingredients can be optimally designed, leaving room for further fine tuning towards e.g. dietary fibre content.

In this contribution, we first discuss the physical-chemical principles behind the sugar replacement strategy, and its validation for biscuits and cakes by demonstrating the relations with food structure and sensory. Subsequently, we show the extension of these physical-chemical principles to cell wall materials such as (mixtures of) arabinoxylans and xylo-oligosaccharides. Finally, we show the potential towards more holistic approaches to design nutrient-dense products like bakery and snacks with desired sensory properties. Overall, the approach here presented shows potential for promoting a more flexible use of fibre-rich by-products as highly functional ingredients.


Louise Dye | Strategies for increasing the fibre intake for low-income consumers

Most people do not eat enough fibre. Why is fibre intake so low when health messages are clear?

Differences between actual and recommended intake may stem from consumers’ inaccurate perceptions of fibre intake. Alternatively, consumers may intend to consume more fibre but fail to do so for various reasons including misunderstanding of what is a high fibre food, or gastrointestinal symptoms, constipation or taste dissuading uptake and leading to the intention-behaviour gap.

Low socio-economic status is associated with poorer diet and health inequalities in part related to low fibre intake. Rising food poverty is a further factor influencing fibre intake with these consumers having less agency over their food choice and increasing concern about energy cost of cooking higher fibre foods. Increasing consumer understanding, access to high fibre foods and opportunities for product development which confers beneficial effects at no cost to taste and without increasing energy for cooking are strategies to be considered.


The h3 offers companies the opportunity to collaborate on and trial health by stealth product reformulation in low income consumers and in products for children aimed at introducing and encouraging higher fibre foods in these consumer segments.


Suzan Wopereis | You are what you wheat. Impact of whole wheat and fibres on health – and innovative ways for testing health effects

Food and nutrition including whole wheat and fibres have subtle and long-term health effects via a myriad of underlying mechanisms which is difficult to accurately quantify especially within a healthy population of free living persons, who will not always comply to the intervention of interest and who have a large degree of interindividual variation. Therefore, innovative methodology referred to as ‘phenotypic flexibility’ was developed that may be more sensitive in detecting health effects from food and nutrition as well as in the quantification of human variability, allowing for the development of more personalized nutrition strategies. Within this lecture multiple examples will be shown of how this innovative methodology for testing health effects was applied to show the impact of whole wheat and fibres on health from a one-size-fits-all as well as from a personalized approach and you will test yourself how wheat you are!