A neighborhood of bacteria for little ones to learn about nutrition




In an apartment block very similar to Rue del Percebe, 13, several fairly well-liked neighbors coexist: Biff Bifidobacterium, Celia la Prevotella, Claudio Lactobacilus or Emilio Clostridium are some of them. But they have to face a problem: the annoying neighbors of number 8, four noisy giddies who are making their lives miserable. They are Nella, Gella, Vibrio and Nora, intestinal pathogens capable of complicating the life of any human. To learn how to navigate this jungle of gut bacteria, the video game «Bichindario» familiarizes young and old with each one of them, their functions and the foods that favor or weaken them.

The Minister of Science, Universities and Innovation, Eduardo Sicilia
The Minister of Science, Universities and Innovation, Eduardo Sicilia

In this way, passing tests through choices –for which we must be attentive to the clues–, this video game teaches how to handle the bacteria that inhabit our intestines. And so, playing, you learn to eat healthier.

It is the same philosophy as «Feed your genes», the other video game being developed by the Department of Science, Universities and Innovation, which is directed Eduardo Sicily, through the Madrileño Institute for Advanced Food Studies, Imdea Alimentación, one of the seven research centers of excellence dependent on the Community of Madrid.

In this second video game, you have to choose an avatar –the girl Rosa, the young Juan, the pregnant woman María or the veteran Antonio– and decide, based on their genetic background, what type of diet can promote their health in the long term.

Free access

In both cases, the objective is the same: that the families discover the secrets of good nutrition and its effects on our health. Video games are part of the Annual Food Agenda project of the European Institute of Innovation EIT Food.

The two games are freely accessible. They have been designed with an audience of 12 years and older in mind. They have been developed in collaboration with researchers from Imdea Alimentación. Specific, “Feed your genes»Has had the scientific advice of doctors José María Ordovás and Lidia Daimiel, which are part of the Precision Nutrition and Obesity Program, and international benchmarks in this matter.

Genes and food

In this video game, based on basic information about the genetic predisposition to develop certain diseases of each character, you have to choose what type of food they should eat at each meal. The dynamics of the game allows us to know how that character will evolve depending on the decisions made with his diet, which makes it possible to see the repercussion, 20 or 30 years from now, of an adequate or wrong nutrition.

Imdea Alimentation investigates the diet in relation to highly prevalent diseases

On the visit to Bichindario where gut bacteria reside, you learn to distinguish what foods to eat to achieve a healthy balance. Whether life in that block of neighbors is a haven of peace or hell will depend, in part, on the nutritional decisions we make.

“Bichindario” has been developed by Laura Judit Marcos, doctor and researcher in the Computational Biology group of IMDEA Food. This space focuses its work on how to approach, from the diet, certain highly prevalent diseases such as cancer, obesity and cardiovascular diseases.

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