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We are no longer what we eat, we are also what we secrete

We are no longer what we eat, we are also what we secrete

A Riddet Institute investigative report on food-derived bioactive peptides has gained international recognition that will lead to a paradigm shift in thinking about nutrition, that will help us better prevent ill health and combat disease more effectively.

Co-authored by Ph.D. scholar Lakshmi Dave with Distinguished Professor Paul Moughan, as part of her doctoral thesis, it has been recognised as a highlight publication by the prestigious Global Medical Discovery (GMD).

GMD vice president scientific affairs, Dr David Levy, wrote that the paper has been identified as a "key scientific article contributing to excellence in biomedical research". It will feature in the next edition of Global Medical Discovery Series.

"Historically," says Mrs Dave, "the scientific community has only really looked at the gut as a digestive organ not as a source of protein and certainly not as a source of biological control."

"Our hypothesis and initial evidence show we are no longer just what we eat. We are also what we secrete into our gut. In the future it is likely that we will use diet to regulate our secretions to improve our health and prevent disease more effectively than we do today. This could have huge impacts for those who are susceptible to hypertension, weight gain and many other issues."

"I was surprised when we first considered it, however it now seems like common sense. Science has known for some time that food-derived bioactive peptides are regarded as important modulators of several processes in the Gastrointestinal Tract (GIT). The concentration of food derived peptides in the GIT, and therefore attendant physiological effects, are likely to be highly variable as our diet is variable. We don't eat the same thing every day."

"In contrast to this variability, gut endogenous proteins secreted into the gut such as cell protein, mucin, serum albumin and digestive enzymes remain consistent in the body. They are a significant potential source of peptides for the GIT. Up to 80% of endogenous proteins are digested in the GIT and it is likely that a wide range of peptides are generated. Until now the significance of the gut endogenous proteins as a source of bioactive peptides has not been considered," says Mrs Dave.

"We've known for some time what they are, however we never really asked what is their fate and role? Our hypothesis is that endogenous proteins may have a hidden role as a consistent and quantitatively important source of bioactive peptides in the gut."

"Endogenous proteins, are eventually turned-over by the body. We may re-absorb them thereby providing ourselves with a consistent supply of bioactive peptides."

"The potential is huge. Imagine knowing what types of food regulate secretions or more to the point regulates a secretion that lowers hypertension. Imagine if we could lower the risk of cardiac disease, the world's number one killer disease."

"Regardless of the hypothesis, it remains very important to eat a balanced diet that contributes both carbohydrate and protein as well as complex carbohydrates from fruit and vegetables," says Mrs Dave.

Riddet Institute co-director, Distinguished Professor Paul Moughan, says “Lakshmi's work has opened a door to a new level of understanding about nutrition. This is a paradigm shift in thinking."

"We need more young New Zealanders to consider Food Science as a valid career choice. Our future economic growth is dependent on scientific advancement in this field. I hope Lakshmi's fundamental work will demonstrate that world-changing science happens here in New Zealand and that young New Zealanders can be part of it. Food science is an exciting and rewarding career path," he says.

Lakshmi Dave is a doctoral student at the Riddet Institute. She is investigating the latent role of human gastrointestinal endogenous proteins as a source of bioactive peptides. She is an MSc graduate in Food Technology from the University of Mysore, India. She has worked as a Research & Development manager with Britannia Industries Ltd and has studied at the Riddet Institute at Massey University since June 2011.

Riddet Institute: is a Government Centre of Research Excellence that strengthens connections between the food industry and research partners to enhance New Zealand's reputation for excellence in food and sciences. It is New Zealand's premier centre for fundamental and strategic scientific research. Its multi-disciplinary approach, at the intersection of food material science, novel food processing, human nutrition and gastrointestinal biology, is having a direct and positive effect on the development of innovative and healthier foods.

Global Medical Discovery: GMD is highly selective and features papers of exceptional scientific importance that are assessed primarily on their scientific validity and merit. Emphasis is given to all aspects of Medicine from basic science to clinical studies. The invited articles are less than 0.1% of the whole published literature (that is 20 per week chosen by a team of advisors and experts). GMD is viewed almost 745,000 times each month by an audience made up of academic, clinical and industrial R&D Scientists. It is linked to the top 50 Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical companies as well as hundreds of world’s leading universities and research organisations. for more information visit:

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