Private Grants & Contracts Funding | Nutrition & Health
Florida | Florida Agricultural Experiment Station | Southern Region
UF/IFAS researchers use foods with added prebiotic fibers to improve the health of people with chronic kidney disease.
What can make and keep humans healthy? University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) scientists are experimenting with minerals, nuts, herbs, prebiotics and probiotics to show that what a person consumes profoundly affects their health. Garlic is particularly healthy for the heart, but research is showing it can boost the immune system, too. Almonds are rich in fiber and scientists want to know if the nut can improve intestinal health in families. Zinc deficiency is believed to contribute to nearly half a million child deaths worldwide annually, but researchers have found an inexpensive and easy way to check for the mineral. Spices have long been treasured throughout the world and now we know that some help to fight inflammation. Use of probiotics and prebiotics is increasing in popularity. Prebiotics, which are specific types of fiber, support the growth of beneficial bacteria. Probiotics are live bacteria that, when consumed, confer a health benefit. UF research shows that consumption of a probiotic can help improve the digestive health of older adults, while prebiotics can improve the health of people with chronic kidney disease.
Foods with added fiber, specifically prebiotic fibers, appear to be of benefit to individuals with chronic kidney disease. Looking at blood urea nitrogen and serum creatinine concentrations, researchers studied the incorporation of commercially available foods with added fiber and prebiotics.
The team of researchers led by Wendy Dahl, an assistant professor with the UF/IFAS Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, found that consuming fiber-fortified foods is an effective means of dramatically increasing fiber intake, decreasing symptoms and improving blood lipids in people with chronic kidney disease. It may also help to reduce blood levels of p-cresol, a substance implicated in cardiovascular disease and progression of chronic kidney disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic disease accounts for $3 of every $4 spent on health care or an average of $7,900 per American with a chronic disease. Lower health care costs and a healthier population reduce the burden on public healthcare programs like Medicare and other government assistance programs.