UNC Nutrition Research Institute Exploring New Field
The UNC Nutrition Research Institute (NRI), located in Kannapolis, NC and part of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is leading the development of “individualized nutrition” – understanding why people’s metabolism and nutrition requirements differ from one another. This pioneering research will transform the field of nutrition and, ultimately, enhance public health worldwide.
Research at NRI Creating a Healthier Tomorrow
The NRI studies nutritional individuality by conducting research in nutrigenomics and metabolomics. Nutrigenomics is the study of the interaction between genetics and nutrition, and how together they affect human health. Metabolomics is the simultaneous measurement of thousands of chemicals—in either blood or urine—that make up an individual’s metabolism.
Because most traditional approaches to nutrition only consider the “average person,” the relatively recent technologies of nutrigenomics and metabolomics stand out because they customize nutrient requirements specific to an individual. The NRI’s research elevates the previous one-size-fits-all nutritional approach to a higher methodology standard that studies individual differences in people’s DNA and metabolism.
One example of this higher standard is the new NRI metabolic chamber. This unique tool allows the most accurate measure of metabolism available, enabling NRI scientists extremely valuable insight into whole-body metabolism as well as individual components. This groundbreaking capability allows for further understanding of why metabolism is different among individuals.
Other distinguishing features of the NRI include state-of-the-art research laboratories, a fully-equipped metabolic kitchen, an outpatient clinical examination suite, a behavioral testing suite equipped with sophisticated instruments to study brain function, and more.
With new discoveries in individualized nutrition, NRI scientists will begin to understand how to enhance human health. On the individual level, this will allow physicians to create customized diet and exercise plans that can improve each person’s quality of life. Ultimately, the NRI’s research will contribute to maximized wellness, enhanced brain development and improved outcomes for diseases like obesity, cancer and diabetes.