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Utrecht University Future Food Conversation

Partner Event11 juni 2021

Nutrition in the first 1000 days of life is essential for a good immune system. SFI partner Utrecht University will give a lecture on June 11th on the most sustainable food namely: mother milk. During the Future Food Conversation 'Mother’s little secrets in milk’ the composition of (mother) milk and the effects of its processing on its functionality will be discussed.

The next Utrecht University Future Food Conversation Series lecture will address the topic of (mother's) milk composition and the effects of its processing on its functionality.

The role of nutrition in the first 1000 days of life is actively investigated by many different scientific disciplines within Utrecht University. Especially the development of the immune system in infants has gained a lot of attention over the last ten years. The current pandemic has made us all aware of the importance of the immune system to keep us healthy and resilient against a wide variety of health threats. That is also why Future Food Utrecht is currently working on a strategy to join forces between all parties working on Early Life Nutrition. 

Especially in early life, when the immune system is not fully trained yet, the right nutrition seems essential in the development of immune resilience. As human milk is the preferred nutrition within the first 6 months, research to better understand how mother nature provides the best protection and immune education for the offspring is essential. The immune system consists of a complex team of different cell types that need to communicate with each other in order to full-fill their specialized task in the protection of the body and maintaining the homeostatic balance. Besides the common means of communication via cytokines and chemokines, immune cells can communicate via the release of extracellular vesicles (EVs) that can transfer bio-active messages to other cells. The research group of Prof. Marca Wauben (Wauben Extracellular Vesicle (EV) Lab) unveiled recently several novel aspects of EV-mediated communication involved in immune regulation and discovered that human milk EVs have strong immune modulatory capacities and can increase epithelial barrier formation.

During this online session Professor Wauben will share the latest insights into (mother) milk extracellular vesicles and the "destructive effects" of milk processing.

Subsequently, Dr. Caroline de Theije will share which medically relevant risks arise when milk processing would be omitted, especially in case of human (donor) milk used for vulnerable preterm born infants. 

After these two presentations, we would like to invite the audience to actively participate in a discussion, guided by a set of propositions that cover this functionality versus safety topic.  


13.00 h: Introduction by Dr. Prescilla Jeurink 

13.10 h: “Cell-derived vesicles in human milk: Vulnerable functional food components” – Prof. Marca Wauben (Twitter: @WaubenLab)

13.40 h: “Feeding the vulnerable preterm infant human milk: Current practice and future opportunities” – Dr. Caroline de Theije 

13.55 h: Q&A and discussion 

14.20 h: Concluding remarks by chair 

Registration and more information

More information about the Future Food Conversation can be found on the website of Utrecht University

To register send an email to