Nutrition & Aging: Efficacy of antioxidant compounds on atherosclerosis and the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins.
The incidence of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) increases markedly with age and is the largest contributor to morbidity and premature mortality in men and women. Increased levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and free-radical mediated or oxidative damage of LDL represent a key risk factor and a key step in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. Therefore, LDL oxidation and CVD are closely linked and likely contribute to adverse health consequences and death in the elderly. We have been interested in attenuating the risk of CVD by dietary or supplemental antioxidants and have tested the ability of antioxidant levels and combinations to protect LDL isolated from human blood from oxidation.
Environmental Health: Health effects of air pollutants, environmental tobacco smoke, mercury contamination in Northern Nevada
A multi-disciplinary approach has been used to investigate potential links between health effects and various environmental pollutants. Past or ongoing projects include:
- Impact of regulatory changes on air pollution and health in Northern Nevada;
- Maternal, neonate and environmental tobacco smoke;
- Assessing community needs in environmental health; and
- Mercury and health effects in Northern Nevada.
Health Promoting Bioactive Compounds: Selected phytochemicals and conjugated linoleic acid.
There are a variety of chemicals derived from plant and animal tissue that have the potential for promoting health, when consumed. Nutraceuticals is the term coined for such bioactive compounds, i.e., chemicals found as a natural component of foods or other ingestible forms that have been determined to be beneficial to the human body in preventing or treating one or more diseases. For over a decade, we have been interested in several of such chemicals and are continuing our efforts to understand their mode of action. Many of these compounds have antioxidant properties, thus we have focused on developing a better understanding about how they impact on oxidative stress using test tube models, animal studies, and human trials.
Improving Food Safety for Vulnerable Populations of Nevada
Preventing foodborne illness and death remains a major public health challenge and substantially reducing foodborne disease outbreaks is a goal of Healthy People 2010. CDC still estimates that 76 million people get sick, more than 300,000 are hospitalized and approximately 5,000 Americans die each year from foodborne illnesses. Those at risk are the elderly, pregnant women, infants, and young children and those with compromised immune system. Thus, one in every five individuals in the U.S. falls into one of these as-risk categories. Because of Nevada’s growing elderly and young populations and the economic dependency on food service related tourism, we are particularly vulnerable. We are involved in assisting these vulnerable populations through food safety research and education.
Nutritional Quality of Foods Grown by Urban Systems
Research studying the effects of growing conditions on production of bioactive compounds. Using subjective methods, we are comparing sensory quality of produce grown in traditional soil to those grown hydroponically. We also are interested in the effects of environmental stresses on the level of production of bioactive compounds. We will determine the effects of such stresses on the quality of produce.