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Sharon M. Nickols-Richardson

Dr. Sharon M. Nickols-Richardson

The purpose of my long-term research program is to identify determinants of obesity prevention and body weight regulation across the life span. Using a variety of research designs and settings, these determinants are incorporated into theory-based interventions to lower the burden of obesity. My works focuses primarily on incorporation of optimal food intake and physical activity patterns to promote healthy body weight regulation that prevents chronic diseases, ranging from metabolic syndrome to osteoporosis. Specific aims of ongoing research in my laboratory include testing promotion of healthy choices in meal planning, food preparation and intake of vegetables and fruits in children, adolescents and adults. I serve as the PD/PI or Co-I on several human nutritional sciences studies, including laboratory-oriented clinical trials and community-based interventions with individuals and families.

Department Head; Professor;; more detail here.


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Elizabeth H. Jeffery

Dr. Elizabeth H. Jeffery

Biochemical and nutritional toxicology, with an emphasis on cancer prevention, is the focus of our laboratory. Epidemiological studies show that a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts, can lower the incidence of several cancers, including liver, prostate and colorectal. Our experiments identify how components in crucifers alter the synthesis of detoxification enzymes, resulting in more rapid clearance of deleterious compounds from the body before they can initiate a toxic or carcinogenic response. A major goal is to develop cruciferous vegetables with increased concentrations of chemopreventive agents and we work closely with an interdisciplinary group of 5 faculty to meet this goal. Experiments probing the mechanism of upregulation of detoxification enzymes apply molecular biology and biochemical enzyme assays to human and rodent liver cells in culture. Immunohistochemical and enzyme assay studies using purified chemicals or the whole vegetable fed to rodents confirm the findings from in vitro experiments. We have identified a synergism between two of the more abundant bioactive components in crucifers. The importance of this finding is two-fold: first that smaller doses of the vegetable should provide protection; and second that supplements containing the optimal mixture for protection could be formulated for individuals at high risk for cancer. These studies are being expanded to prostate, since prostate cancer is presently the most common cancer, with the second highest number of mortalities of any cancer, within the U.S. Functional foods; prevention of cancer through diet; role of detoxification enzymes in protection from cancer and toxicity.

Professor Emerita;; more detail here.


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John W. Erdman

Dr. John W. Erdman

Dietary factors that reduce the risk of prostate cancer, bioavailability of carotenoids, biological effects of carotenoid metabolites, influence of lutein and vitamin E on brain function, use of ultrasound techniques to detect prostate cancer progression and tissue alterations due to atherosclerosis or non-alcohol liver disease.

Professor Emeritus;; more detail here.


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Margarita De L Teran-Garcia

Dr. Margarita De L Teran-Garcia

Human nutrition; gene- nutrient interactions of humans; the role of genetic and environmental influences on the development of obesity.Obesity and its related diseases are now a worldwide health and socio-economical burden. Although it is likely that the growing epidemic of obesity is primarily related to unhealthy diets and lack of exercise, heritability studies indicate that genetic factors account for 30 to 70% of the predisposition to excessive weight gain. Despite the progress in identifying some monogenic causes of obesity, the progress in defining the genetic basis of common obesity has been proven to be a complex task.  Obesity increases the risk of developing diseases such as insulin resistance and diabetes, altered lipoprotein metabolism, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, some forms of cancer, sleep apnea, and osteoarthritis. These obesity-related diseases have also a genetic component.The goal of my research is to expand on the knowledge of gene-environment interactions. Our individual genetic profile interacts with the environment to allow a gene or groups of genes in different metabolic pathways to adapt to changes in diet or exercise and many other environmental factors, to maintain a healthy status. As we understand more about gene-environment interactions, individualized recommendations for preventing obesity and obesity-related diseases will become more accessible and reliable. My research group investigates nutrient-gene, exercise-gene and other gene-environment interactions in children and adults from diverse populations.We will use high-throughput systems to genotype markers and real-time RT-PCR for gene expression analysis. These data will be integrated with anthropometric measurements, life-style factors and blood metabolic profiles to investigate genetic associations. We intend to use these techniques to identify genes that might be associated with obesity and related diseases. Our goal is to find early diagnosis markers that will help in the development of effective and individualized interventions directed at preventing childhood and adult obesity, and the morbidity due to obesity-related diseases.

Assistant Professor;; more detail here.


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Kelly Anne Tappenden

Dr. Kelly Anne Tappenden

Regulation of small intestinal function by various nutrients and gastrointestinal-specific peptides.Dr. Tappenden’s research program is directed at achieving a greater understanding of the regulation of small intestinal function by various nutrients and gastrointestinal-specific peptides. Through the use of preclinical animal models simulating necrotizing enterocolitis, short bowel syndrome, diarrheal diseases (Salmonella typhimurium), and specialized nutrition support (enteral and parenteral nutrition) structural and functional adaptation of the intestine are explored. A necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) neonatal piglet model is used to examine cellular mechanisms and regulation of nutrient processing within the compromised intestine. As many patients who develop NEC currently undergo intestinal resection, resulting in a condition known as short bowel syndrome (SBS), the lab also focuses on understanding the mechanisms whereby short-chain fatty acids, the products of dietary fiber fermentation, modulate intestinal adaptation during short bowel syndrome. Other scientific contributions include the identification of cellular and functional markers of intestinal adaptation that can be used to assess the efficacy of therapeutic strategies for humans with SBS. Ultimately, these research efforts will optimize the quality of life for individuals with intestinal failure.

Professor;; more detail here.


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Yuan-Xiang Pan

Dr. Yuan-Xiang Pan

Early nutrition programming with an emphasis on molecular mechanisms of developmental origins of chronic diseases in offspring. While genetic factors, lifestyles, and environment have all been cited as important components of developmental diseases, increasing evidence suggest that maternal factors–especially those that occur in utero and during early postnatal life–also play a significant role in disease development. The long-term goal of my laboratory is to understand the underlying molecular mechanisms by which maternal dietary factors influence the risk of diseases in later life, in order that effective interventions can be developed to reduce the incidence of the disease. We utilize a variety of animal models of human developmental diseases, including obesity, diabetes and cancer. People in my laboratory working on these animal models will also use a wide range of molecular biology techniques including analysis of chromatin structure, promoter analysis, gene delivery, quantitative real-time PCR, sequencing analysis and bioluminescent imaging.

Associate Professor;; more detail here.


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Manabu T. Nakamura

Dr. Manabu T. Nakamura

Most people are familiar with the message that reducing intake of saturated and trans fat can improve health. However, there are some types of fats, called essential fatty acids that must be consumed in the diet. Essential fatty acids and their metabolic products exert a variety of physiologic functions in our body, including inflammation, reproduction and regulation of lipid metabolism. Dr. Nakamura’s laboratory created a gene knockout mouse to investigate functions of the essential fatty acids, which is a current focus of research activity in his laboratory.The increasing incidence of obesity worldwide is a significant public health concern, which brings an opportunity and responsibility to the nutrition research community. To address this challenge, his laboratory has been investigating how our body can adapt to diets with varying composition of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Understanding biochemical and molecular mechanism of metabolic adaptation will provide a basis for dietary prevention of obesity. In addition to this basic research, his laboratory has been developing a new nutrition information delivery system for prevention and treatment of obesity.

Associate Professor;; more detail here.


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Zeynep Madak-Erdogan

Dr. Zeynep Madak-Erdogan

Role of novel synthetic and natural estrogens on metabolic health of post-menopausal women Keywords: Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, Genomic and Non-genomic ER signaling, Genomics, Metabolomics. Impact of Estrogen Receptor alpha and kinase signaling cross-talk on development and progression of breast cancer Keywords: Breast cancer, Non-genomic ER signaling, Kinase, Genomics.

Assistant Professor;; more detail here.


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