Summary

Dietary factors play an important role in cognitive development and -decline across the lifespan. Mechanistic hypotheses explaining the association between dietary intake and brain health include the functionalities of the immune system, metabolic aspects of body composition and direct or indirect effects of the gut microbiome.

The cluster, Diet – Body – Brain (DietBB), acts in the region of Bonn-Cologne and includes academic partners, the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), the German Nutrition Society, and industry partners, all located within a radius of 30 km around Bonn.

The overarching aims of the research cluster Diet-Body-Brain (DietBB) are to:

(1) investigate the relation between food intake and dietary patterns and the development, maintenance, and decline of cognition across the lifespan;

(2) elucidate mechanisms underlying the relation between dietary patterns and cognition focusing on the role of the immune system, metabolism and gut microbiota; and

(3) investigate determinants of food choice in order to increase the effectiveness of consumer communication.

These aims thus span from the collection of in-depth epidemiological and interventional data to the evaluation of targeted approaches for consumer behavior change. The DietBB work packages are structured into five thematic areas (TA): optimization of technology-based dietary assessment methods and the derivation and further analysis of dietary patterns (TA1); conduct and integrative analysis of epidemiological studies (TA2); dietary intervention studies (TA3); genetic and epigenetic analyses to generate insights into biological mechanisms (TA4); and identification of targeted approaches to facilitate behavior change (TA5).

In its 1st funding period, DietBB established a solid research infrastructure, with effective communication channels, interactions, and capacity building activities, and generated evidence concerning associations between diet and cognitive outcomes using human research approaches.

During the 2nd funding period, the cluster will refine its research questions and exploit the resources established during the 1st funding period according to the hypothesized links of diet through the immune system, specific metabolic processes or the gut microbiome on brain health. To ensure the long-term sustainability of DietBB, cluster partners plan measures such as the assurance of long-term data use and access.

DietBB is funded with a total of 6.3 million € for another 3 years by the BMBF. It is one of four research clusters of nutrition research in Germany:

Enable. Competence Cluster for Nutrition. Healthy food choices in all stages of life
NutriAct. Competence Cluster for Nutrition. Nutritional Intervention for Healthy Aging: Food Patterns, Behavior and Products
NutriCard. Competence Cluster for Nutrition and Cardiovascular Health