March is National Nutrition Month

National Nutrition Month is about focusing attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. At the Nutrition Research Institute, we study nutrigenetics to find out how nutrients work in our bodies. Scientifically based food and nutrition information is based, in part, on NRI discoveries. We encourage you to take time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great flavors and social experiences food can add to our lives. Develop a mindful eating pattern that includes nutritious and flavorful foods — that’s the best way to savor the flavor of eating right! [learn more]

Pregnancy, Drinking and Diet: Consider “Whole Health” When Pregnant

Don’t eat this. Don’t drink that. In the face of recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations to abstain from drinking alcohol when pregnant and even when considering having a child, researchers at the Nutrition Research Institute (NRI) urge women to educate themselves about the overall effects of alcohol and specific essential nutrients in their diet.
To Drink or Not to Drink When Pregnant
One of the first recommendations an expectant mother receives is to abstain from alcohol. The CDC stated that between 2011 and 2013, 10% of pregnant women in the United States reported drinking during their pregnancy. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) researcher Philip May, Ph.D., who leads FASD research at the UNC NRI, believes that estimate to be low based on a number of studies in Europe and Canada that have used biomarkers to measure actual alcohol use and two studies published in 2014 and 2015 that he led. Those studies of first-grade children in two cities in the Midwest and Rocky Mountain regions of the United States indicated that the prevalence of FASD is significantly higher in the general population than most people previously believed.
[read more about why experts such as May encourage mothers to understand the effects of alcohol consumption on a developing fetus and make an educated decision about drinking while pregnant.]

Free Public Lecture
Clinical Trials: Everyone Benefits

Join us March 15 at 7 PM for our next Appetite for Life presentation. The NRI’s Human Research Core director Jomari Torres, M.D., will discuss how volunteer study participants move through a typical clinical trial and how the outcome of these studies can benefit our society. Kara Marker, a recent study participant, will give a first-hand account of her experience.
The location of this event is the Kannapolis City Hall, 401 Laureate Way, Kannapolis, NC 28081. Register now! 

Click here for instructions on how to attend virtually. 


Nutrient Deprivation Kills Kidney Cancer Cells

All cells need nutrients, but cancer cells are notoriously power hungry. As a result, cancer cells must alter their metabolism to provide the additional fuel needed for them to survive, grow and spread.
For decades, scientists have been trying to exploit this greedy metabolism as a target for new anti-cancer therapies.
Duke University researchers have discovered a promising target for renal cell carcinomas. A study appearing online Feb. 1, 2016 in Cancer Research shows that the majority of these cancers rewire their metabolism in a way that leaves them addicted to an outside nutrient called cystine.
By depriving the cancer cells of the amino acid cystine, the researchers were able to trigger a form of cell death called necrosis in mouse models of the disease.
“We found that the same machinery that makes these tumors so aggressive also makes them vulnerable to nutrient deprivation,” said senior study author Jen-Tsan Ashley Chi, Ph.D., associate professor of molecular biology and microbiology at Duke University School of Medicine. “It is like we are beating it at its own game.” [read more]

Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Designed by: Chef Megan Lambert, Senior Instructor at Johnson & Wales University, Charlotte, NC.
2 ripe avocados, mashed, about 1 1/2 cups
1/2 cup apple juice
2 tbsp. special dark cocoa powder
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
[full recipe here] 
Nutrition Facts:
One-fifth of a medium avocado has 50 calories and contributes nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds to the diet, including 8% of the daily value for fiber and 4% of the daily value of potassium.
More than 75% of the fat in avocados is “good fat” and avocados have less than 1 gram of sugar per serving; moreover, they have the least amount of sugar per serving than any other fresh fruit.
Research shows that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats is associated with reduced blood levels of total cholesterol and of low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-cholesterol). Additionally, replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats is associated with a reduced risk of CVD events (heart attacks) and CVD-related deaths.

Wheat Bran Study Wins Award

Congratulations to Shengmin Sang, Ph.D., our colleague at North Carolina A&T, on hisResearch Article of the Year Award in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Dr. Sang studies the bioactive components of functional foods and herbs for their preventative effects on colon cancer and metabolic syndrome. His article discusses how wheat bran suppresses human colon cancer cell growth. [view the abstract]