Consumer interest in improving health and performance with foods containing bioactive ingredients is growing. Our research demonstrates the health benefits of bioactive ingredients (eg, antioxidants and probiotics) and foods (eg, milk, fermented products, fruits, beverages) in both animal models and in humans as well as investigating their mechanisms of action. We examine the bioactive effects on immune function, resistance to infection, blood pressure, diabetes, prediabetes, cognitive function, sports performance and other health measures.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and chronic illness in New Zealand and many countries worldwide. Massey researchers have broad expertise in the metabolic, biochemical, genetic and physiological factors that underlie cardiovascular disease. We evaluate blood tests and genetic markers to predict heart patient outcomes. We also use natural compounds to improve metabolic health.
The brain is a vital organ that requires a stable and adequate blood supply. Too much or too little blood can result in catastrophic brain injury. Despite its obvious importance, the regulation of brain blood flow is not completely understood. Our research focuses on cerebrovascular regulation during extreme blood pressure fluctuations, like those observed during resistance exercise. We also collaborate with national and international laboratories to investigate how exercise can improve cerebrovascular function.
Nutrient metabolism and metabolic health
Implicit in the goal of achieving optimal health and wellbeing is an understanding of how our bodies absorb and metabolise nutrients from our diets. We use human, animal and cell studies to investigate the physiological response to dietary modifications and to understand underlying mechanisms that lead to good health outcomes. We are particularly interested in new pathway to obesity prevention and metabolic health. We explore dietary approaches for the prevention of common diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Prediabetes and diabetes
Our researchers examine the underlying molecular mechanisms involved in the onset and development of type 2 diabetes. We investigate the effect of nutrition, exercise and other lifestyle factors as prevention strategies to reduce the progression of prediabetes to diabetes. We also examine the underlying mechanisms involved in onset and progression of diabetes complications with interest in identifying target therapeutic and diagnostic markers.
Research centres and groups
Centre for Metabolic Health Research
The Centre for Metabolic Health Research facilitates interdisciplinary research in metabolic health, with key aspects being the prevention of metabolic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and the maintenance of mobility and functionality throughout the lifecycle.
Researchers in the Digesta group share an interest in the physical processing of digesta within the human gastrointestinal tract. This interest is borne principally out of the need to understand how digesta mixes to allow digestive enzymes to act on nutrient particles, and how the nutrients are transported to cells in the wall of the intestine.
Sleep/Wake Research Centre
The Sleep/Wake Research Centre is New Zealand’s first laboratory dedicated to research and education in circadian physiology, sleep science, and their applications. We are motivated to find science-based solutions to the challenges created by the restricted sleep and circadian disruption that are endemic in our 24/7 society.