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Developing diet strategies to treat functional gut disorders

Dr Jane Muir is currently Head of Translational Nutrition Science in the Department of Gastroenterology, Central Clinical School, Monash University.She is a trained dietitian with a PhD in biochemistry and has over 20 years experience in the area of nutrition research.Her major research focus has been on the important role of fermentable carbohydrates in the health of the gastrointestinal tract.

Jane has made a major contribution to understanding the role of resistant starch (RS) (starch that escapes digestion in the small intestine) in gastrointestinal health. In 1990, she developed an assay for measuring levels of resistant starch in food. This assay was then validated and used to construct diets which differ greatly in levels of starch escaping digestion (ie. low and high in resistant starch). These diets were used in subsequent studies to investigate the physiological significance of including resistant starch in the diet.

Since 2001, Jane has worked in collaboration with the Gastroenterologist- Prof Peter Gibson.
This position provided her with the opportunity to develop and extend her research in the area of carbohydrates in the gut further, while strengthening the role of Nutrition and Dietetic research in the clinical setting.

Her primary focus has been assisting with the development of new diet therapies to treat and control diet-related gastrointestinal dysfunction.
A major focus of their research involved a new area of carbohydrate research involving poorly absorbed short chain carbohydrates (called FODMAPs).
FODMAPs stands for Fermentable Oligo- Di- and Mono-saccharides And Polyols). FODMAPs are found in a wide variety of foods and include; excess fructose (in pears, apples), sugar polyols (sorbitol and mannitol in stone fruits and artificial sweeteners), lactose (in milk), fructans and fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) (rye, artichoke, garlic, onions) and galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) (stachyose, raffinose, in legumes and nuts).

Jane has helped to establish the laboratory techniques to quantify the FODMAP sugars in foods.
The group have now started assembling, for the first time, comprehensive FODMAP food composition tables, which has been essential for their research into studying the physiological effects of these sugars in the gastrointestinal tract.

These FODMAP food composition tables are also essential for designing new diet strategies for the treatment of gastrointestinal symptoms associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common disorder seen in gastroenterological practices and affects 1 in 7 Australians.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy

Research area keywords

  • Carbohydrates
  • Gastrointestinal Function
  • Dietary Fibre
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or