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Take a Transformative Journey Through the Digestive Process

BY: Mary Ellen Kuhn
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Predicting at the Transformation LabAre you a cruncher, chewer, smoosher, or sucker? Get the answer to that question by visiting the IFT Transformation Lab: A Journey From the Inside (Booth 5535) on the food expo floor.

This brand-new exhibit is designed to take those who experience it on a multisensory journey through the digestive process. The journey begins at the mouth of the Transformation Lab, where visitors are asked to take a quick mouth behavior survey to determine which of the four aforementioned mouth behaviors (crunching, chewing, smooshing, or sucking) best characterizes their approach to mastication. Product samples that reflect the preferences of individuals according to their mouth behavior are featured in this area of the exhibit, which is sponsored by JBMB, a company that specializes in mouth behavior.

Zone two of the Transformation Lab focuses on the stomach and features a gastric simulator to help illustrate the way that the stomach breaks food down, mixing it with acid and enzymes to help release nutrients that are later absorbed in the small intestine, says IFT member R. Paul Singh, a University of California, Davis, distinguished professor emeritus and expert on the role of the stomach in food digestion. With his colleagues, Singh prepared the exhibits featured in zone two. He will be on hand in zone two periodically during the course of the food expo, and he also played a role in the conceptualization of the Transformation Lab.

Zone three of the lab offers insights on the small intestine and how various foods affect the gut microbiome. Experts will be available to discuss the gut microbiome, and a video will help explain some of the science behind it.

Health and wellness is the focus of zone four, which zeroes in on market and product development trends as they affect four key population segments: infants, adolescents, adults, and older adults. Zone four is sponsored by Innova Market Insights and features data from the research firm. At the conclusion of the Transformation Lab experience, visitors are asked to respond to a survey on what they found most engaging and informative about the experience.

The Transformation LabThroughout the course of IFT15, Transformation Lab staffers will be Tweeting out updates on the percentage of booth visitors who fall into each of the four mouth behavior categories. The display also highlights some of the IFT15 scientific and applied sessions that relate to digestion and gut health.

“At IFT15, the technical sessions and exhibits shown in the expo demonstrate how scientific approaches have led to creating numerous food products with health benefits for the consumer,” says Singh. “The Transformation Lab helps extend that discussion to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, where nutrients are released from the food and transferred into a human body. By visiting the Transformation Lab, attendees of IFT15 will get a more informed understanding of the fate of foods in the GI tract.”

The Transformation Lab was developed by Freeman XP, part of the exhibit services company that teams with IFT on the annual event, with scientific input provided by IFT member volunteers.

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