Nutrition in the news

How Wayne State's medical school became the first in the U.S. to require plant-based nutrition education

By Megan Edwards  Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit is the first college in the United States to introduce a mandatory plant-based nutrition unit into their curriculum for first-year medical students. The four-week “Rooting for Wellness” learning module, launched in 2019, utilizes recorded lectures, online quizzes, cooking demonstrations, guest lecture panels, and a vegan community fair to teach students about the critical connection between nutrition and disease prevention. The curriculum’s creators recently published a report in the International Journal of Disease Reversal and Prevention about the success of the program and how other universities can follow their lead.  “I’ve always been passionate about community advocacy, nutrition, and the promotion of preventive medicine, but was disappointed by how sparingly these topics were covered in med school,” said Lakshman Mulpuri, a co-founder of Rooting for Wellness and student at the university. “I was in awe of the incredible stories of patients who had empowered themselves with a whole-food, plant-based diet. I knew that these stories and the science behind them needed to be shared with my fellow fledgling physicians.” 

NIH award to tackle early infant morbidity due to increasing incidences of food allergies

A Wayne State University School of Medicine researcher has been awarded a $1.93 million, five-year grant by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health to study the impact of maternal immunoglobulin D (IgD) transferred to the fetus during pregnancy and its impact on protecting against food allergies. Kang Chen, Ph.D., associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology will use the grant, “Mechanism and function of transplacental IgD,” to tackle early infant morbidity due to increasing incidences of food allergies. “This project, funded by the National Institutes of Health, will allow our research team to elucidate the mechanisms of the placental transfer of IgD and determine if maternal IgD promotes neonatal immune protection against food allergy,” said Chen. “Our studies have shown that maternal IgD specific to vaccines or food acts as a specific and prophylactic fetal immune education cue to protect neonates against food allergy. Our research will have a major impact on our understanding of the origin of allergies in newborns and children.” Chen’s  study is expected to reveal the unique functions of maternal IgD — an ancient yet still mysterious antibody — in neonatal immune function that maternal Immunoglobulin G (IgG) does not have, and aims to have a profound impact on improving neonatal health by directing the design of IgD-targeting maternal vaccines or adoptive immunotherapies.
News outlet logo for favicons/

Gatorade’s new sweat patch can help your nutrition and hydration issues during your run

Most runners figure out their hydration strategy via trial and error because everyone’s body reacts so uniquely to workout intensity and environmental conditions. “In the same distance race in the same environment, some athletes lose less than 14 ounces an hour and some athletes lose 85 ounce an hour,” explains Matt Pahnke, a principal scientist at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute. But Gatorade’s new Gx sweat patch ($24.99 for two) aims to take the guesswork out of hydrating. The catch with the patch and the app is they’re only as useful as you make them—to get the full benefits, you need to be scheduling your workouts, checking out the pre-run plan and checking back in post-run. “The more information you put into it, the stronger the advice is going to be,” says Pahnke. That may work well for some runners, but it may seem like too much work for others. While the data makes it seem like an exact science, think of it as more of a guideline, says Tamara Hew-Butler, Ph.D., an associate professor of exercise and sports science at Wayne State University. “The move toward measuring fluid and electrolyte loss is a good start, but it should never be followed as an exact rule,” she explains. “You also have to listen to what your body’s telling you.” 
News outlet logo for favicons/

Blind Wayne State student shares inspiring secret to success, gets tattoo to celebrate passing organic chemistry

Any college-level chemistry class can seem difficult. One Wayne State University student, who happens to be blind, took organic chemistry for two semesters. Nicole Kada was born blind but she sees the world in a very inspiring way. “You could be blind and say that you can’t do anything because you can’t see, therefore you just can’t but that’s just making excuses,” she said. The 23-year-old is studying to become a dietitian and one of the courses she must pass is organic chemistry. “Organic chemistry is all drawing structures and molecules, it’s basically an art class, times ten,” Kada said. But if you can’t see or draw, how do you approach this class? She uses special paper and a Braille computer that helps her identify different shapes. “Plastic paper that you put on a drawing board and you write with this pen and it raises it up in Braille so I can feel the molecules,” Kada said. The student says she had to study much harder than other students to understand what was being taught in two semesters. She met with a tutor every day for hours and it paid off. She got two A's for the year. “Most proudest moments and happiest too,” Kada said. To celebrate, she got a tattoo of a molecule to be a permanent reminder of perseverance. “When my kids tell me they can’t do something, I’m going to show them my tattoo and tell them yes you can because I can do it and I can’t see.” Kada will be graduating next year but she hopes her story will inspire others. “As soon as you remove limitations, then you can accomplish anything,” she said.
News outlet logo for favicons/

The new battlefront in food insecurity fight

Food insecurity, defined as being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food, is currently a situation that 12.3 percent of U.S. households experience. It's defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food. However, David Strauss, Wayne State University dean of students, says, “It's not just food – it's all basic needs. With the increasing costs of tuition for college, it's food, shelter, clothing.” Strauss said on the Wayne State campus he has seen an increase in student food insecurity in the last decade. “We weren't talking about this 10 years ago. We weren't talking about food insecurity, homelessness, basic needs challenges. Everyone was always having food drives for Gleaners (Community Food Bank of Southeast Michigan,) but that was for other people. Now we're having department food drives for our students.” Strauss and other administrators at area schools of higher education emphasize the reason food insecurity and hunger is such a major issue – and pressing talking point – is because it can be a direct impediment to student success. “If we look at student success, and we focus on student success and graduation, our number one goal is to get them across the finish line – and if we cannot get them nourishment, we can't help them succeed and cross the finish line,” Strauss explained. “If students aren't eating, they're going to class, working part or full-time jobs, they're operating on fumes,” noted Raneisha Williams Fox, coordinator of student wellness at Wayne State University and the W Pantry, Wayne State's food pantry, which during the 2018-2019 school year gave out more than 8,000 pounds of food. It opened in April 2017. “In a week we'll see 25 to 28 students, and between 80 and 100 students monthly. Since we've opened we've serviced 1,500 students, and we've given out more than 20,000 pounds of food.”