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IFE Distinguished Visitor Lecture: What Can Plant Science Do For Human Heal...
Mon. 20 February 2017, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm AEST
What can plant science do for human health?
Over the past 30 years, the developed world has seen an enormous change in diet with the proportions of carbohydrate-dense foods increasing dramatically along with consumption of large amounts of saturated fats and foods with high levels of added sugars. The advent of the Western Diet has brought with it an increase in chronic diseases, particularly those associated with the metabolic syndrome, including Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers. A major concern for the future is that ensuring food security by focusing on the major crops, cereals and starchy foods, will result in a loss in dietary diversity in developing countries, leading to similar problems in obesity and accompanying chronic diseases, observed in developed nations today. Fruit and vegetables are important sources of many phytonutrients that promote health. Because these compounds are not essential for life, they have been ignored by many nutritional and biofortification programs. However, their inclusion in the diet is essential to meeting the objectives of food and nutritional security as defined by the FAO. The first steps that are required involve the characterization of the bioactivity of different phytonutrients of different horticultural products and their comparative assessment to inform dietary diversification programs and public information campaigns that emphasize the benefits of horticultural products for food and health.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Professor Cathie Martin, John Innes Centre (UK)
Professor Cathie Martin is a group leader at the John Innes Centre, the leading plant research institute in Europe and Professor at the University of East Anglia. Her interests span from fundamental to applied plant science. She researches into the relationship between diet and health and how crops can be fortified to improve diets and address the global challenge of escalating chronic disease. This work has involved linking leading clinical and epidemiological researchers with plant breeders and metabolic engineers to develop scientific understanding of how diet can help to maintain health, promote healthy ageing and reduce the risk of chronic disease. Cathie is also involved in genetic screens to identify crops that lack toxins which cause nutritional diseases, and has recently initiated a collaborative project with China to research on Chinese medicinal plants.