We cordially invite PhD students, scientific supervisors and all Institute’s employees to the Oath of the PhD students of the Interdisciplinary Doctoral School of Agricultural Sciences.

The inauguration of the academic year of will be honoured with the lecture of Dr. Bartosz Fotschki: „Super Raspberries – the hero that supports staying healthy”.

The event will take place October 2, 2023 at 9:00 am in the seminar room of IARFR PAS at Tuwima 10.

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Ketogenic diet and health. Research by Dr. Natalia Drabińska

The increased popularity of the ketogenic diet is not followed by scientific knowledge on the safety of its use, points out Dr Natalia Drabińska from the Institute of Animal Reproduction and Food Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Olsztyn, who studies the effects of the ketogenic diet on metabolism, inflammation, selected nutritional parameters and oxidative stress in overweight and obese women.

The ketogenic diet is a high fat, low carbohydrate diet that involves putting the body into a state of ketosis. – It is quite a demanding diet, but one that gives quick results and allows you to lose unwanted kilograms in a short period of time. This is why it has become so popular in recent years – emphasises Dr Natalia Drabińska from the Department of Chemistry and Biodynamics of Food at the IAR&FR PAS in Olsztyn.

However, this does not mean that the ketogenic diet is scientifically well understood; there is still a lot of information published on the internet about the effects of this diet on the human body that is not supported by scientific research. – Although the available scientific literature indicates that the use of the ketogenic diet may be beneficial in reducing body weight, comprehensive studies guaranteeing the safety of its use are not available – she adds.

Seeking to fill this gap, the researcher, as part of an NCN-funded project, is investigating how the ketogenic diet affects metabolism, inflammation, selected nutritional parameters and oxidative stress in overweight and obese women.

The first correlation studied is the effect of the ketogenic diet on metabolism, i.e. the total biochemical processes in the body that process the energy of nutrients from food.

The next step will be to investigate the effect of the ketogenic diet on inflammation – whether and how it can reduce it.

In the effects of the ketogenic diet on selected nutritional parameters, the researcher will examine the levels of fat-soluble vitamins, namely vitamins A, D, E and K; determine the amino acid profile and the fatty acid profile.

The effect of the ketogenic diet on oxidative stress, on the other hand, will be determined by the level of antioxidant activity – what from the diet increases it and how the body responds to it; the level of enzymes involved in neutralising free radicals; and the level of lipid and nucleic acid peroxidation products. – My previous animal research showed that the ketogenic diet, even in a fairly extreme form, did not induce oxidative stress, and in fact lowered it – says the researcher.

– We have now carried out most of the research and have begun to analyse the results. Thanks to them, we will be able to answer questions asked by many people struggling with obesity and overweight, wondering whether the ketogenic diet is a safe and effective way to lose extra kilograms – emphasises Natalia Drabińska.

The cohort included 80 women (72 completed) – healthy, slightly overweight (with a BMI of 25.5-35), with an average age of 35-40 years; they were volunteers from Olsztyn and the surrounding area. For 8 weeks, women received daily balanced meals, provided by a diet catering service, and attended regular check-ups. – All the ladies are satisfied with the results of this diet, as they have shed a total of 380 kg! – indicated the researcher, who also went on a diet.


The ketogenic diet involves balancing meals in such way that the main part of the calories comes from fats and the consumption of carbohydrates is maximally limited. Interestingly, the ketogenic diet was originally used to treat patients with drug-resistant epilepsy.

After four to six weeks of adaptation to such a diet, a state of ketosis occurs in the body, i.e. the body 'switches’ so that it derives energy from ketone bodies (i.e. fat accumulated in the tissues) and not – as before – from sugars (glucose).

– Before this happens, however, you need patience and determination, because the ketogenic diet can make you feel worse in the first few weeks. This is because when your body runs out of glucose and is not yet able to use ketone bodies, you will lose strength and may experience flu-like symptoms. This is when it is especially important to remember to drink plenty of water and to keep an eye on electrolyte levels. As a start, I also recommend supplementation with MCT oil – this is an oil containing medium chain acids that go directly to the liver (without passing through the pancreas) and are converted into ketone bodies there, says the researcher.

The scientist reminds us that in following any diet, it is important to proceed with caution and awareness. – In some situations, it is necessary to consult a doctor, as a high-fat diet should not be followed by people with kidney or liver problems, for example. We must remember that it is a diet based mainly on fat, which is metabolised by the liver. Therefore, loading it with a high-fat diet in people who are ill can be dangerous to their health. It is therefore worth doing a liver panel (ALT, AST, GGTP) before starting the diet, as well as checking kidney parameters such as uric acid, the level of which increases especially at the beginning of a ketogenic diet – she points out.

The ketogenic diet is an elimination diet, so it is important to ensure that it is varied and balanced. – The ketogenic diet is not about meat dripping with fat, but, above all, about healthy fat from, for example, eggs, avocados, nuts, olive oil or selected fruit and vegetables,” emphasises Natalia Drabińska.

As the researcher points out, according to current scientific knowledge, there are no contraindications to prolonged/longed use of the ketogenic diet.

Dr Natalia Drabińska’s research is being conducted as part of a project entitled 'KETO-MINOX: Effects of an isocaloric, reducing ketogenic diet on metabolism, inflammation, selected nutritional parameters and oxidative stress in overweight and obese women’, funded by the National Science Centre (NCN). The project will last until 2025.

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Check the response of your body to vitamin D supplementation

The Institute of Animal Reproduction and Food Research PAS in Olsztyn invites healthy (not smoking) women and men aged 18-65 with normal body weight (BMI 19-25) to participate in a scientific study on vitamin D.

The study will be conducted from November 2023 to February 2024 (7 meetings).

By taking part in this study, you will learn:

  • what is the level of vitamin D in your blood;
  • whether your body has a very good, average or poor response to vitamin D.

What do you need to do?

  • contact us to participate in the initial examination;
  • come to your appointment after overnight fasting and give your blood sample (approx. 20 mL);
  • take a personalized monthly dose of vitamin D (under the supervision of our doctor);
  • come the next day to give another blood sample (approx. 20 mL);
  • this procedure will be done once a month over a 3-month period.

In addition, by participating in the study, you will receive breakfast together with a dose of vitamin D, and get a chance to be selected for a long-term intervention study that will allow you to optimize the level of vitamin D in your body.

If you are interested in participating in the study, please contact us by phone or e-mail:

Dr. Marianna Raczyk (+48 790 567 861,
Dr. Emilia Gospodarska (+48 793 929 156,

Project leader: prof. Carsten Carlberg, e-mail:, +48 604 336 461

The study is part of the Horizon Europe ERA Chairs WELCOME2 project.


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15 September – 'Packaging Day’

All you want to know about food packaging.

What the symbols on packaging mean, whether food packaging needs to be washed before throwing it away to make it recyclable and whether fresh fruit and vegetables need to be packaged – the answers to these questions are not obvious to consumers.

The European education campaign for responsible handling of food packaging, in which the Institute of Animal Reproduction and Food Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Olsztyn participates, comes to help.

The EIT Food project 'InformPack’ is an international initiative of scientific and expert institutions from Denmark, the UK, Poland, Finland and Spain.

– The premise of the project is to investigate consumer behaviour, knowledge and attitudes towards food packaging. In the survey, we asked consumers, among other things, whether they pay attention to the material from which the packaging is made when buying food, whether they are able to resign from buying a product because of an excessive amount of plastic in the packaging or whether they find it difficult to segregate used packaging. On this basis, we develop educational materials to encourage consumers to behave responsibly with food packaging, both at home and outside – says Iwona Kieda of IAR&FR PAS in Olsztyn.

Analysis of the results so far has identified three key themes that consumers find most troubling and difficult. These are: lack of understanding of packaging symbols, misunderstandings about the need to clean food packaging before discarding and further recycling, over-packaging of fresh fruit and vegetables and handling of multi-material packaging.

On this basis, experts and researchers from the institutions involved in the project created educational campaigns with material in the form of infographics and animated videos.

Among other things, the materials provide information on whether food packaging should be washed, why manufacturers package fresh fruit and vegetables, what to do with multi-material juice packaging, where to dispose of bread packaging, what the triangles on packaging mean, which plastic packaging is most often recycled and the difference between compostable and biodegradable packaging

Materials on bioplastics and a campaign specifically aimed at children on good practice in the context of handling food packaging will also soon be available.

InformPack Infographics ca be found here.

InformPack Videos can be found here.

The InformPack project has also created a quiz (in adult and children’s versions) to test your knowledge. The quiz is available here.

Currently, project partners are disseminating the developed information on the Internet or in workshops in schools. In the process, they are measuring long-term changes in consumer behaviour.

– Next year, we plan to conduct consumer research in France, Italy, Germany, Denmark and Finland. In addition, in the coming months, we will continue to work on new materials, and we will also continue to hold workshops for schoolchildren and organise educational activities during science popularisation events in Poland – announces Dr Joanna Fotschki of IAR&FR PAS in Olsztyn.

EIT Food InformPack

The EIT Food InformPack project is an international initiative of scientific institutions from the University of Aarhus (Denmark), the University of Reading (UK), the Institute of Animal Reproduction and Food Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences (Poland), the VTT research network (Finland), manufacturers: Bioazul (Spain) and Maspex Group (Poland), and the Spanish supermarket chain Eroski.

The aim of the project’s activities is first and foremost to change consumer behaviour so that they deal with food packaging in a responsible and sustainable manner. It is also important to involve and raise awareness among food producers themselves, as well as local authorities, who are responsible, among other things, for the availability of recycling bins in the streets.

InformPack is funded by the EIT Food, the Knowledge and Innovation Community for Food of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union, under the EU’s Horizon 2020 framework programme for research and innovation.

For more information and free materials, visit:

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Fish semen banks – hedging against environmental disasters and supporting biodiversity conservation

Supporting the process of fish reproduction in the event of an environmental disaster, safeguarding the stability of breeding in fish hatcheries and protecting the gene pool – these are the main objectives of the fish semen banks that scientists from the Institute of Animal Reproduction and Food Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Olsztyn are developing.

– Awareness of the need for fish semen banks continues to grow. Last year’s ecological catastrophe on the Oder River in Poland made us realise how important it is to have backup to be able to start the process of reproduction of native fish populations efficiently and effectively in such situations – emphasises Dr. Sylwia Judycka from the Department of Gamete and Embryo Biology of the IAR&FR PAS.

In addition to protecting endangered species or entire fish populations, semen banks also make it possible to safeguard the stability of breeding lines in fish hatcheries. Dr Sylwia Judycka worked on the creation of a fish semen bank for the largest facility of this type in Poland, located in Dąbie (Dąbie Fish Hatchery). The project was implemented as part of a project from the National Centre for Research and Development (NCBiR).

– Having frozen semen greatly improves breeding in various situations, e.g. when sexual maturity of females and males does not occur at the same time for various reasons, or when a breeding farm does not have sexually mature males in a certain year, making it impossible to obtain fresh semen for spawning – the scientist points out.

Supporting efficiency in breeding is not the only reason for having a fish semen bank. – Catastrophes can also occur in farms when a dangerous virus for fish is detected in the water. In such situations, unfortunately, the entire stock of the farm has to be disposed of. It can take years to rebuild it by natural means; using frozen semen of valuable breeding lines, the process will be much quicker – stresses Sylwia Judycka.

As the researcher points out, currently the main barrier against having a fish sperm bank is financial: the cost of creating such a base and maintaining it.

Fish semen is cryopreserved (stored at an ultra-low temperature of -196°C) before being deposited in the bank. – We fill thin straws, several centimetres long, with semen, which are frozen on special frames in liquid nitrogen vapour and then transferred to liquid nitrogen containers. Each straw with a sample of frozen semen is accurately labelled, which enables the frozen semen samples to be correctly identified and has a specific number of sperm per millilitre – the scientist explains.

The lifespan of semen frozen and stored in this way is calculated to be up to thousands of years. – So far, we have tested semen thawed after several years and it was still of high quality – Sylwia Judycka reports.

Dr. Sylwia Judycka’s research interests include studies of fish semen – its quality or learning about the mechanisms responsible for, e.g. the maturation of spermatozoa in rainbow trout neo-males (neo-males are sex-reversed fish). The main method used in Dr. Sylwia Judycka’s research is the aforementioned cryopreservation.

Dr Sylwia Judycka’s recent scientific publications have included the development of guidelines for improving the cryopreservation process and semen quality assessment of sex-reversed salmonids.

In September, the researcher starts a three-month research internship in France (at the Laboratory of Fish Physiology and Genomics of the INRAE in Rennes) to learn about a research technique called gene editing and be able to use it later in her further research.

For her scientific achievements, Dr. Sylwia Judycka was awarded the 'L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women and Science’ scholarship (2022).

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Scientific Award of the Society for Reproductive Biology

Dr Joanna Szuszkiewicz, who completed her PhD thesis under the supervision of Prof. Monika Kaczmarek, received the Scientific Award of the Society for Reproductive Biology for the best scientific work in the field of reproductive biology in 2022.

The awarded publication entitled „Early steps of embryo implantation are regulated by exchange of extracellular vesicles between the embryo and the endometrium” by Joanna Szuszkiewicz, Kamil Myszczynski, Zaneta P. Reliszko, Yael Heifetz and Monika M. Kaczmarek was published in FASEB Journal 36: e22450 (2022); This publication was included in the doctoral thesis of Dr. Szuszkiewicz, conducted under the supervision of Prof. Monika Kaczmarek and defended at the Institute’s Hormonal Action Mechanisms Department in March, 2023.

Dr. Szuszkiewicz and coworkers (2021) described the mechanism of communication between the embryo and the mother in the peri-implantation period with the participation of extracellular vesicles (EVs) carrying miRNAs. EVs, identified in the uterus, together with the miRNAs they carry, of both embryonic and maternal origin, appear to modulate the transcriptome of the embryo, affecting its proper growth, development, and implantation. These results make an important contribution to our understanding of the complex processes involved in early pregnancy.

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Our Institute in a large EU partnership for a sustainable food system

The Institute of Animal Reproduction and Food Research PAS has joined a large EU partnership for the development of sustainable production, processing, distribution and consumption of food – Future FoodS. This only Polish entity in the international consortium will be responsible for creating a European network of so-called living labs, i.e. laboratories where new solutions for the agrifood industry will be developed and tested.

– Ensuring people’s food security is one of the key challenges around the world. In this context, it is important that actions for the production and consumption of healthy, nutritious and diverse food also translate into sustainable environmental, social and economic development. Therefore, the mission of our partnership is to integrate the work of European research centers and the food industry in order to create a healthy, environmentally friendly, socially safe, fair and economically viable food system in Europe, in the perspective of 2030 and beyond, emphasizes Mariusz Piskuła, director of the Institute.

87 institutions from all over the European Union participate in the Partnership for Sustainable Food Systems – Future FoodS. These are scientific entities, food producers, legislators, innovation support centers and organizations operating in the agri-food industry. The initiative is coordinated by the French National Research Agency (ANF).

The Institute of Animal Reproduction and Food Research PAS is one of the most significant research centers in Poland focusing on scientific research in the field of food, e.g. its safety, health-promoting effect or food innovations.

As part of the partnership, the Polish representative, together with the large Belgian agri-food cluster Flanders’ Food, will co-manage the work to create an EU network of so-called living labs.

– Living labs are multi-stakeholder structures, open to innovation and local cooperation. Their main task is to  test solutions in real conditions, with the participation of all interested parties. In our case, these are laboratories where new solutions in the field of food are developed and tested, e.g. with consumers as active agents. As part of the partnership, we will identify such places in Poland and other European Union countries, and then we will create an international network – explains Iwona Kieda, project manager at the Institute of Animal Reproduction and Food Research PAS.

The aim of the European Union is that in the future this network of living laboratories will form the backbone of an ecosystem of food systems.

The activities carried out under the described partnership focus on the issue of sustainable food systems. It is about such a system of food production and consumption, which in a fair and honest way will provide the society with safe and healthy food, taking care of low environmental impact.

The consortium will announce external calls for international projects open to entities from outside the partnership, which will promote research and innovation in such areas as:

  • ensuring food security;
  • reducing greenhouse gas emissions from food systems;
  • ensuring the availability of water, e.g. in the context of droughts affecting Europe;
  • preventing food waste;
  • appropriate business models for the food sector in the European Union, including i.a. environmentally friendly management;
  • ensuring diversity and inclusiveness in food systems.

The Partnership for Sustainable Food Systems is part of the global efforts of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development.

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Structures around skeletal muscle linked to insulin resistance

The early stage of insulin resistance development is associated with the structures surrounding the skeletal muscles – show scientists from the Department of Prophylaxis of Metabolic Diseases at IARFR PAS.

The results of their research may be a step towards the search for a new drug for diseases associated with insulin resistance, which would have a targeted effect. 

Insulin resistance is the reduced sensitivity of tissues to insulin (a hormone that regulates blood glucose levels). Its development can lead to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and many other diseases.

The most important tissue related to the action of insulin are skeletal muscles, which are responsible for about 80-85% of insulin-dependent glucose uptake. These tissues, along with the structures surrounding them, were examined by scientists from the Institute of Animal Reproduction and Food Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Olsztyn (their review paper on this subject can be read here).

– Our research shows that the extracellular matrix of skeletal muscle may be important in the development of insulin resistance – it is a kind of mixture produced by cells filling the free spaces between them. It includes e.g. integrins, i.e. protein receptors that transmit information between the external environment and the inside of cells. We have shown that they can be involved in the modulation of insulin action even at the early stages of insulin resistance development – explains Róża Aleksandrowicz, technologist from the Department of Prophylaxis of Metabolic Diseases IARFR PAS.

The results of research conducted together with Prof. Marek Strączkowski and Dr. Magdalena Stefanowicz, have just been published in the „Endocrine Journal” .

As the researcher explains, the role of factors related to the extracellular matrix in the development of insulin resistance is still not fully understood.

– The obtained results are the basis for further research on the role of integrins, which can help in better understanding the pathogenesis of insulin resistance, and in the future can be used to search for new drugs targeted specifically at the action of these integrins – points out Róża Aleksandrowicz.

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The potential of honey in prevention of civilization diseases

The potential of honey to prevent e.g. hypertension, obesity and neurological diseases will be examined by scientists from the Department of Chemistry and Biodynamics of Food at IARFR PAS, as part of a project financed by the National Center for Research and Development.

– Honey is rich in many ingredients with health-promoting properties, which has already been described in scientific publications. We will test the potential of honey in the prevention of civilization diseases. We will verify whether honeys – enriched with targeted additions of antioxidants of natural origin – have the potential to prevent i.a. hypertension, obesity or neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s – says Dr. Małgorzata Starowicz, head of the Department of Food Chemistry and Biodynamics of  Food at IARFR PAS in Olsztyn.

Poland is the largest producer of honey in Europe, and its production is an important element of the national economy.

In the opinion of Dr. Małgorzata Starowicz, it is worth monitoring and improving analytical techniques for determining the level of bioactive compounds, i.e. those that can affect the proper functioning of our body, because high environmental pollution, the use of plant protection products or climate changes (e.g. droughts) negatively affect the amount of honey produced by bees and its quality.

– The most commonly consumed types of honey are multiflorous, linden and buckwheat. All honeys are healthy, but in our previous studies we showed that the latter – buckwheat honey – is the richest source of polyphenolic compounds among the basic types of honey and it shows the highest antioxidant activity – the scientist points out.

What to look for when buying honey?

– Consumers are often guided by the crystallization of honey, considering it a negative value, but it is a natural process. It is worth remembering that each honey is specific in this respect, e.g. acacia honey can remain liquid for several months, unlike rapeseed honey, which crystallizes very quickly, because the crystallization process begins after 1-2 weeks. In turn, heather honey crystallizes, taking the form of a „jelly” – says the researcher.

She also reminds that it is best to buy honey straight from the apiary or from local producers.

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Buckwheat hull – once a pillow insert, now a valuable bread additive

Buckwheat husk is a waste product that housewives used to fill pillows and mattresses with. Today, it is also known to be a valuable source of dietary fibre and compounds with antioxidant properties. Dr. Małgorzata Wronkowska from the Institute of Animal Reproduction and Food Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Olsztyn convinces that it is worth adding it to bread.

– The novelty of our research is the use of ground buckwheat hulls in a retail bakery product. The bread we have proposed using buckwheat hulls is richer than the traditional bread with an increased proportion of dietary fibre and compounds with proven antioxidant properties – emphasises one of the authors of the study, Dr. Małgorzata Wronkowska, from the Department of Chemistry and Biodynamics of Food at the Institute of Animal Reproduction and Food Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Olsztyn.

The results of the study were described in a paper published in the journal „European Food Research and Technology” .


Buckwheat is included in the group of so-called pseudo-cereals, which produce seeds similar to cereal grains. The seeds are then used to produce one of Poland’s most popular groats, as well as buckwheat flour. They are rich in nutrients including dietary fibre, high-quality protein, vitamins, minerals or compounds with antioxidant properties. In addition, they are gluten-free products.

During the production of buckwheat groats, the husk is separated from the seeds. For decades, this waste was used to fill mattresses and pillows, and is now also used as a substrate for biofuel production, among other things.

As Małgorzata Wronkowska points out, the husk is, indeed, a waste product, but an extremely valuable one.
– The husk of every seed is a reservoir of many valuable ingredients. By getting rid of it, we remove not only dietary fibre, but also many micro- and macroelements and vitamins. Therefore, it is recommended to eat processed cereals as little as possible – the scientist points out.


Scientists from Olsztyn decided to study whether and how buckwheat hulls could be used in food products and, in particular, in bread.

They developed a recipe for enriching the composition of traditional Balton bread and graham rolls with ground buckwheat hulls. These products were available for retail sale in Warmia and Masuria.

In vitro studies, which simulated the conditions of digestion occurring in the human body, confirmed that 3% buckwheat hull in bread can have a beneficial effect on the human body. – In the proposed digestion model, we showed that the components that are released from a solid food matrix, which in this case was a popular and generally available bakery product, are compounds that exhibit antioxidant activity. And thus they can be, after digestion, better absorbed by the body – the scientist points out.

In studies on the sensory evaluation of baked products containing buckwheat hulls, consumers and experts have pointed to a perceptible 'sandy’ quality in the texture of the bread. As the co-author of the study explains, this is due to the degree of hardness of the buckwheat hull, which can only be ground in suitable equipment; this is unlikely to be possible at home. – Recently, however, a ground buckwheat husk product has become available in the retail market, which consumers can use themselves, for example, as an addition to home-made bread – the researcher adds.

In future, the Olsztyn researchers would also like to find out whether and how buckwheat hulls can be used to produce other bakery products such as cakes or savoury snacks. – Since we already know that buckwheat hull is a very valuable raw material, why not use it to obtain other products as well – concludes Małgorzata Wronkowska.

The recipe for the baked product described in the aforementioned publication was presented to bakeries cooperating with the Institute of Animal Reproduction and Food Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Olsztyn during a project led by Professor Henryk Zieliński of the Department of Chemistry and Biodynamics of Food. In this project, scientists proposed enriching bakery products (bread and rolls) available for retail sale in the Warmia and Mazury region with various ingredients (such as buckwheat hulls or onions) that contain biologically active compounds with positive (tested and documented) effects on human health.

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