Newswise — Scientists at the University of Illinois are shedding light on the relationships between physical activity, sex hormones, low-calorie sweeteners, omega-3 fatty acids and childhood nutrition on the gut microbiota and metabolome—and their related health consequences.

This webinar series is kicked off by University of Illinois Professor Rodney Johnson. Johnson notes that between 2009 and 2019, there was a 30-fold increase in scientific papers on PubMed on the “gut-brain axis.”  In 2019, 473 papers including that phrase were published.

Johnson then introduces Professor Jeffrey Woods and Doctoral student Noah Hutchinson who focus on exercise. While nutritional interventions have powerful effects on the gut microbiota, another significant and often overlooked factor is the influence of physical activity, Hutchinson found. See both Professor Johnson’s overview and the first set of presentations here:

The second webinar features Professor Kelly Swanson’s research on sex-related differences in host metabolism and health with a focus on the gastrointestinal microbiome. Dr. Swanson and Doctoral student Celeste Alexander reviewed evidence and past work on the relationships between sex, the gastrointestinal microbiota and metabolic diseases.

Professor Yanina Pepino and Doctoral student Clara Salame address the impact of low-calorie sweeteners on glucose metabolism. The potential “post-oral” effects of low-calorie sweeteners on metabolism and ultimately, health is an issue of much public health and scientific debate. Dr. Pepino and Ms. Salame present work on the effects of sucralose—the most widely used LCS—on postprandial glucose metabolism.

Professors Aditi Das and Andrew Steelman explore how omega-3 fatty acids impact health and autoimmune diseases, with a focus on multiple sclerosis. They review their work regarding how omega-3 fatty acids may modulate neuroinflammation and alleviate the clinical outcomes of multiple sclerosis.

Professors Sharon Donovan, Naiman Khan and Doctoral student Arden McMath explore the role of childhood nutrition and obesity in the brain-gut axis. A study at the University of Illinois that includes 450 families (STRONG Kids 2) is examining predictors of childhood obesity risk, dietary habits, and social, behavioral and cognitive development over the first seven years of life.

Learn more about how diet and physical activity are linked to weight trajectories, the gut microbiome and metabolome, and cognitive development.

This series highlights some of the latest research in critical areas affecting the work of nutritionists, regulators, researchers and other food and nutrition professionals. It also illustrates the benefits of multiple sectors working together to advance science. ILSI North America would like to thank the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Division of Nutritional Sciences, part of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, and the American Society for Nutrition for their partnership in creating this series.