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Can the human microbiome prevent disease? Groundbreaking new free EIT Food course set to launch

A free online course on gut microbiome has been launched by EIT Food and The University of Turin, alongside CSIC, University of Reading, Quadram Institute of Bioscience and Microbion srl and is now available on the leading digital learning platform FutureLearn.


The human microbiome consists of the microbes that live in our body, including their activities and functions, and they play a fundamental role in our health and wellbeing. Our gut microbiome in particular has been a major research area over recent years.


We know the food we eat has a significant impact on our health, but increasingly we are also learning about the importance of a healthy microbiome. This is because each food contains unique components that have an impact on the growth of gut microorganisms. A diet rich in foods that support the growth of beneficial gut microorganisms can positively affect our gut microbiome, and more widely, our overall health.


During the Covid-19 pandemic, gut and microbiome has become a growing topic of interest. Many people want to know whether the food they eat can make them less susceptible to disease. Although there may not be an answer to this yet, a better understanding of the link between diet, gut microbiome and health, creates an opportunity to design and implement prevention strategies for a range of human diseases including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and mental illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and autism. In this way, increased research into gut and microbiome has the potential to improve, and even save lives, in years to come.


EIT Food’s Human Microbiome Online Course


The course investigates how microbiome changes throughout our lives, the role of food in its modulation, and the functions microbiome has in the gastrointestinal tract in everyday life. Over 3 weeks, learners will be able to explore 3 areas:


  1. The Journey of Life – how the gut microbiome is composed, what are its functions, how it changes during a lifetime and how it can be analysed
  2. The Journey of Food – how food is processed in our gastrointestinal tract, concepts of probiotic and prebiotic and how they modulate the gut microbiome
  3. The Journey of Healthy to Unhealthy – how the close connection between our microbiome and the status of our health can influence the onset of human disease


Professor in Food Microbiology at the University of Turin and Course Lead Educator Luca Cocolin explains how a consortium of leading scientists helped to put this course together,


“The course consortium includes top-scientists in the field of food, microbiota and health and consists of an interdisciplinary group with different backgrounds, including food microbiologists, biochemists and medical doctors. This assures the high scientific quality of the materials presented. As activity leader of the course, The University of Turin, has gained a great experience in the preparation and delivery of courses and this will enable the course to be moderated, facilitated and animated in the best way possible. We are very proud of this course and hope that learners enjoy it as much as we enjoyed putting it together”.


Why should we learn more about food?


Learning about gut and microbiome is just one way we can become more connected to the food we eat. There are a multitude of topics related to food that we can explore and many of us are feeling the urge to broaden and deepen our knowledge in this area.


According to Professor and Course Lead Educator Luca Cocolin, “Food is part of our life and our culture. We are the food that we eat! EIT Food courses cover topics that are so important for us as citizens that they help us to make healthier and more sustainable food choices. The courses address the issues that are trending as well as those that are always top of mind. In fact, the current portfolio available from EIT Food provides an opportunity for learners to really improve their knowledge of the food system as a whole.”


EIT Food celebrates 58,000 learners


While ‘The Human Microbiome’ is the latest course by EIT Food, this leading European food  innovation initiative offers over 20 online courses that explore a range of food system themes ranging from sustainable food production, to food science and food waste.


As EIT Food celebrates over 58,000 global citizens who have joined their learner community, it becomes clear that people want to learn more about food to make more informed choices.


Education Programme Manager at EIT Food, Vivien Bodereau, explains why EIT Food courses are popular with learners, “As Europe’s leading food innovation initiative, EIT Food wants to create a healthier and more sustainable food system. More and more people are actively seeking to be better informed on the journey food makes from farm to fork as well as what is the key to a healthy and sustainable diet. As a response, EIT Food and its partners have put together a series of online courses to help consumers learn about the food that reaches their plates. With thanks to the FutureLearn platform we can reach and connect with citizens from across the globe who are interested in the area of food”


Commenting on the latest addition to EIT Food’s portfolio on FutureLearn, Helen Fuller, Global Healthcare Development Director at FutureLearn, said,

“We are delighted to strengthen our partnership with EIT Food, bringing their world renowned expertise to a global audience of learners. We have been aware of an increased interest in wellness, particularly around the impact of diet on health and wellbeing in recent years. We look forward to continuing our work with EIT Food to bring a broad range of courses to our platform, covering topics such as food sustainability and the environmental impact of food processes, and making a valuable contribution to the global debate.”


For more EIT Food courses click here


About EIT Food

EIT Food is Europe’s leading food innovation initiative, working to make the food system more sustainable, healthy and trusted. The initiative is made up of an innovation community of key industry players across Europe, consisting of over 90 partner organisations and over 50 startups from 16 EU member states. It is one of the  Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KIC) established by the European Institute for Innovation & Technology (EIT), an independent EU body set up in 2008 to promote innovation and entrepreneurship across Europe.

You can follow EIT Food via or via social media: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or Instagram.

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