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Participants invited to help nutrigenomics studies

Participants invited to help nutrigenomics studies

Men and women are invited to participate in several nutrition-related intervention studies to be carried out in Auckland this year.

Scientists, doctors and a growing number of the public have been aware for some time that good nutrition is more than a “one size fits all” approach. Our genetic makeup can affect how we respond to foods and beverages.

There is now a lot of research into how intelligent nutrition choices can help limit the onset of disease and alleviate the symptoms of diseases or conditions that we may already have.

“Nutrigenomics” is a science that combines nutrition and genetics to establish how what we eat and drink affects us, based on what genes we are born with.

A variety of nutrition-related intervention studies are being carried out by Nutrigenomics New Zealand – a collaboration between the University of Auckland, Plant and Food Research, and AgResearch.

The trials now underway or soon to occur include;

1. Reducing oxidative stress and inflammation through the use of a nutritional supplement

Inflammatory processes are an essential part of the immune system. When inflammation persists long after the original trigger, it switches from “natural” to “unnatural” inflammation and contributes to many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, Alzheimer’s disease, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.

The intervention study will investigate the benefits of a supplement in reducing inflammation. This supplement is a combination of Omega 3 fatty acids and other health-giving compounds.

2. Dietary intervention trial for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects up to 20 per cent of the population at any given time, yet many people are unaware they have it. It is hard to diagnose, as blood tests come back showing as normal.

IBS occurs as a group of symptoms that appear together. These commonly include any or all of the following: crampy abdominal pain; diarrhoea, constipation, or the two together (ie alternating diarrhoea and constipation); bloating and swelling of the abdomen; rumbling noises and excessive wind; a need to rush to the toilet, and sometimes incontinence; a sharp pain felt low down inside the rectum.

We are currently offering people the opportunity to complete a questionnaire that has been designed by a gastroenterologist, and which can diagnose whether they have IBS or not. This questionnaire will also give researchers clues regarding food tolerances and eating habits in people both with and without IBS.

Once we have gathered a group of people with and without IBS, there will be an opportunity for some participants to take part in a dietary intervention trial that will aim to lessen the effects of IBS.

3. Dietary intervention trial researching the impact of red-apple flesh on inflammation

This study will test the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties of red-fleshed apples. People will be asked to consume either white-fleshed apples or red-fleshed apples on a daily basis for a certain period of time, and we will then compare the results of a simple blood test to establish how effective the red apples have been in lowering inflammation and boosting anti-oxidant levels.

If you would like more information on any of the above, or are interested in participating in these studies, contact Stephanie Ellett at or phone 923-2214.


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