When it comes to the science of nutrition, it’s always evolving. Where better to learn about the high quality emerging research in nutrition science than four days at the American Society of Nutrition (ASN) conference in Baltimore? From the microbiome to the science of cannabis, the Nutrition 2019 conference was ideal to update my current information, learn new science and network with key leaders in the sector. There was a ton of information, as a result, here’s a glimpse of it: my Nutrition 2019 Roundup for you to digest.
There was a spotlight on metabolic health during the conference. The term metabolic syndrome became more commonly used in the 1970s, as food choices, sedentary lifestyle and convenience factors led to the start of common weight gain and obesity. The biomarkers that are associated with metabolic syndrome include waist circumference, glucose intolerance, high blood pressure, LDL and triglyceride levels. It was revealed at one of the sessions that only 12% of Americans are metabolically healthy (1). This is very concerning. Many dietary patterns including the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet have been shown to positively affect the biomarkers for metabolic syndrome. The common food choices among these dietary patterns include vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fish, fruit and dairy.
Oats are one of the most studied whole grains. This has led to health claims in many countries. In Canada, the claim supports the regular consumption of the soluble fibre beta-glucans in oat and barley can reduce LDL cholesterol. The soluble fibre is a heart healthy ingredient. The prebiotic effect of beta-glucans is emerging research that was discussed during Nutrition 2019. It’s hypothesized the prebiotic effect may help to normalize the gut microbial composition of individuals with metabolic syndrome.
The microbiome has been an important topic in the nutrition world for the last two decades. Nutrition 2019 dedicated many sessions to it over the four days in Baltimore. Plus probiotics were a popular give away from the exhibitors in the Hub. One theme was you are your microbes and this personalizes your health and nutrition. For example, microbiota enterotypes were discussed. When it comes to being overweight and obese, results showed people with a high Prevotella to Bacteroides ratio lost more weight on the New Nordic Diet than the western-style average Danish diet (2).
What does this mean? Well when exposed to different kinds of foods with fiber your microbiota reacts differently depending on your ratio of the three enterotypes: Prevotella, Bacteroides and Runinococus. We have known for a while external factors including stress, ultra-processed foods and over use of antibiotics can affect our microbiota, however, this important information of identifying the different ratio of enterotypes in individuals will provide advancement in future microbiome studies.
Science of Cannabis
This is the first time the topic has been addressed at an ASN session. With the booming consumer interest and manufacturers meeting those demands, there is therapeutic evidence for cannabis and cannabinoids, however, much of this research does pose more questions. The majority of the research has been around the compound THC, however, there are 140 different cannaboid compounds in cannabis. Only THC can bind to and affect the cannabinoid (CB) receptors. There are two cannaboiniod receptors in the brain, which have associations with the lungs, small and large intestines and the blood vessels. Researchers know that CBD (used in ingestibles) isn’t mediated by CB receptors and the effects of the other 138 cannabinoids are basically unknown.
Overall cannabis studies are getting more rigorous. At the session, a systematic review published in the National Academy of Sciences titled The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids that included 24,000 published studies between 1999 and 2016 was discussed (3). It identified conclusive therapeutic effects of cannabis or cannabinoids for chronic pain, chemotherapy –induced nausea and sleep apnea – disturbances. However, when it comes to CBD for non-therapeutic use in ingestibles, there is much less research about the short-term and long-term health benefits, in addition to the safety of it.
As a business owner, it’s important my time away from the office and client work is of value. The four days I spent at Nutrition 2019 in Baltimore was very productive from learning new science to networking with growth minded colleagues. Thank you organizers of Nutrition 2019 for making this such a worthwhile event!
I’d love to speak at your upcoming event to share my insight about nutrition, food, health and trends. Click here to learn more.
- Araújo J, Cai J Stevens J. Prevalence of Optimal Metabolic Health in American Adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009-2016. Metab Syndr Relat Disord. 2019 Feb; 17(1):46-52.
- Christensen L Roager HM Astrup A Hjorth MF. Microbial enterotypes in personalized nutrition and obesity management. Am J Clin Nutr. 2018 Oct 1; 108(4):645-651.
- National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine 2017. The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. Washington DC: The National Academies Press
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