Growing evidence from animal and human research indicates the importance of homeostatic regulation of the circadian clock in the body. Dysfunction of the circadian clock caused by jet lag or night-shift work increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. Thus, it is important to consider the circadian clock function for prevention of these diseases. Chrono-nutrition is a recently established research field that examines the relationship between the timing of food/nutrition and health. It is well known that breakfast skipping and late-night meals are independent risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Chrono-nutrition also advocates research on nutrition and the biological clock and the social implementation of the research. Breakfast can advance the phase of the peripheral clock, but late dinner can delay it. Moreover, many functional foods and nutrients, such as caffeine and polyphenols, regulate the circadian clock. In this review, we discuss how diet/nutrition entrains the peripheral clock and the relationship between meal timing and health outcomes. In addition, the effects of time-restricted feeding/eating on metabolism and related diseases are discussed. Lastly, we introduce “personalized chrono-nutrition,” that uses recent progress of technology such as sensors and the artificial intelligence/internet of things (AI/IOT) to promote personalized chrono-nutritional suggestions and health systems.
Gut hormones produced and released from enteroendocrine cells have key roles not only in nutrient digestion and absorption, but also in control of appetite, nutrient deposition and storage in the body. Several types of enteroendocrine cells sense nutrients after meal ingestion and release specific gut hormones. Understanding how gut hormone responses are controlled and in turn regulate physiological outcomes is an area of active research. In addition, the role of the endocrine system in human-physiology and in pathophysiology (obesity, diabetes, and gastrointestinal diseases) has begun being investigated. The symposium was organized to present and discuss recent advances in this research field from the aspects of bench to bedside.
Vitamins are a family of micronutrients comprising 13 groups of organic compounds, of which vitamin B1 was identified first, approximately 110 y ago. Deficiency of each vitamin results in specific symptoms, such as neuropathy, dermatitis, diarrhea, dementia, pernicious anemia, scurvy, blindness, rickets, and bleeding. Almost all vitamins can modulate the functions of enzymes and/or other proteins involved in the formation of bone and soft tissues, generation of energy, and regulation of homeostasis via specific vitamin–protein interactions. In addition to the well-known physiological roles of vitamins, novel modes of action of vitamins have been elucidated. These new functions could contribute to extending healthy life expectancy by preventing and curing lifestyle-related diseases. In this mini-review, we introduce the functional properties of three vitamins, vitamin B3 (niacin), biotin, and vitamin K, for the prevention of age-related diseases.
The need for food and nutrition assistance has increased due to the frequent occurrence of disasters and pandemics, such as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). However, after a disaster, food and nutrition are insufficient in terms of quantity and quality. In the case of the Great East Japan earthquake, the improvement factors for food and nutrition at emergency shelters included 1) emergency shelter size and equipment, 2) provision and content of meals, 3) collaboration among professionals, and 4) cooperation between shelters. However, there were hygiene and oral health problems, and dispatched dietitians had problems with nutrition assistance. The hygiene problems included 1) food, 2) cooking environment, 3) water supply and discharge, and 4) living space. In addition, oral health problems included 1) difficulty swallowing, 2) difficulty chewing, 3) environmental degradation, and 4) degradation of the oral condition. The problematic points of dispatched dietitians included the support provided not necessarily being consistent with needs, operational deficiencies at both the dispatching and receiving sides, and the short period of support. “Enthusiasm” can be a source of encouragement and a burden. To solve these problems, a training system for disaster dietitians and certification systems for disaster food have been established in Japan. Since the Great East Japan earthquake, various kinds of evidence and actions have been taken, and nutritional problems after disasters have gradually improved. Therefore, it seems that advanced actions and standards should be set not only in Japan but also globally.
Nutrients play important roles in the regulation of physiological and pathophysiological events in higher animals. Nuclear receptors (NRs) share a common modular functional structure and constitute a transcription factor superfamily consisting of 48 members in humans. Some NRs are activated by the binding of small lipophilic molecules such as food components including fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, K, and D) or lipids (phosphatidylcholine, oleoylethanolamide, or fatty acids). NRs contribute to cell growth, differentiation, or metabolic regulation. Generally, NRs bound to their ligands function as a transcription factors targeting specific DNA sequences in genes. Additionally, ligand-bound NRs mediate the activation of specific intracellular signal transduction pathways. On the other hand, some NRs are functional without binding a ligand. Information on the roles and functions of nutrient-sensing NRs in physiological or pathophysiological events not only leads to an understanding of the need for nutrients, but also contributes to the prevention and amelioration of nutrition-related diseases.
Essential nutrient factors, including water- and fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids, play an important role in brain function. We have investigated the roles of these nutrients in learning and memory in mice. Interestingly, we found that dietary deficiency of vitamin B1 or magnesium, inhibition of the vitamin A signaling pathway, and restricted intake of tryptophan impair hippocampus-dependent memory. Furthermore, magnesium deficiency causes neuroinflammation in the hippocampus. Conversely, dietary heat-killed Lactobacillus species enhance hippocampus-dependent memory. These results suggest that the nutrient factors investigated in our studies have strong influences on hippocampus-dependent memory performance.
Obesity and life style-related diseases have become major burdens to global health. Not having effective diet therapy that patients can adhere to makes life-style modification difficult. Many diet therapies are developed based on solid scientific evidence in terms of nutrition. However, how to execute such nutritionally-effective diet therapy is not established, nor based on solid science. Current practices are mostly developed by trial-and-error (experience-based), and they do not have solid bases on how eating behavior is regulated. Therefore, one of the major bottlenecks for implementing nutritionally-effective diet therapy is our lack of understanding of the molecular and neural bases of eating behavior. Based on the concept of nutrition, we eat to maintain homeostasis, and therefore, we should be satisfied once the needs are met by the supplies. However, that is only a part of the picture regarding eating. Palatable foods, which stimulate the hedonic system, and the experience-based prediction system work in concert to regulate eating. The information that conveys needs and supplies is multi-modal, each mode working at different timing to modulate each system. Therefore, eating behavior is complex, and the whole picture remains elusive. In particular, how we sense, calculate, and predict the needs and supplies of calories and each macronutrient remains to be understood. In this minireview, the frontiers in our understanding of the mechanism that regulates eating are briefly overviewed, as a summary of the IUNS-ICN symposium entitled “Molecular and neural bases of nutrition-based feeding decision-making.”
The intestinal environment, formed from dietary components and intestinal bacteria, plays a pivotal role in maintaining our health. Most studies have focused on the functions of dietary components and intestinal bacteria, separately. However, with the new concept of postbiotics, bacterial metabolites produced from food components as substrates, research including the perspective of the interaction between dietary components and intestinal bacteria has become important. In this paper, the importance of food is presented, including the viewpoint of postbiotics, in relation to the interaction between the intestinal environment and health.
Oral health is important for nutritional and food intake. In addition to dental health, the impact of various oral functions is attracting attention. Epidemiology studies indicate the importance of oral health on general health, and nutrition and food intake are considered a major pathway. For vulnerable older people, masticatory muscle training intervention has been developed. More fundamentally, oral health promotion considering a wide range of social determinants of oral health is required to prevent tooth loss and maintain oral functions.
The symposium entitled “Physiological Functions of Proteinogenic Amino Acid” is being held at the 22nd IUNS-ICN International Congress of Nutrition in December 2022 in Tokyo, Japan. The symposium is cochaired by Dr. Shigeki Furuya from Kyushu University and Dr. Tsutomu Fukuwatari from The University of Shiga Prefecture, co-organized by the International Council on Amino Acid Science and Japanese Society for Amino Acid Sciences. In recent years, amino acid researchers have made great strides in finding the physiological functions of proteinogenic amino acids and their metabolites, and opened a new era for amino acid and nutritional sciences. The goal of this symposium is to highlight the novel and important physiological function of proteinogenic amino acids from nutritional aspects. This amino acids symposium features 4 speakers, each presenting novel insights into mechanisms by which amino acids participate in brain function, diabetes, taste functions and energy metabolism, respectively. Dr. Gilles Bonvento from University Paris-Saclay/CNRS/CEA talks about the role of serine in brain function. Dr. Ara Koh from Pohang University of Science and Technology, POSTECH, presents histidine-derived microbial imidazole propionate in diabetes. Dr. Hisayuki Uneyama from Ajinomoto Co., Inc., talks about taste functions of amino acids for improving health and wellbeing. Dr. Jorge L Ruas from Karolinska Institute describes the tryptophan-kynurenine pathway in the regulation of energy metabolism.
Amino acids are compounds that contain an amino group (-NH2) and a carboxyl group (-COOH) and are components of proteins and materials for various bioactive molecules. The skeletal muscle, which is the largest organ in the human body, representing ~40% of the total body weight, plays important roles in exercise, energy expenditure, and glucose/amino acid usage-processes that are modulated by various amino acids and their metabolites. In this review, we address the metabolism and function of amino acids, especially non-proteinogenic amino acids, in the skeletal muscle. Leucine, a BCAA, and its metabolite, β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate (HMB), both activate mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) and increase protein synthesis, but the mechanisms of activation appear to be different. The metabolite of valine (another BCAA), β-aminoisobutyric acid (BAIBA), is increased by exercise, is secreted by the skeletal muscle, and acts on other tissues, such as white adipose tissue, to increase energy expenditure. In addition, several amino acid-related molecules reportedly activate skeletal muscle function. Oral 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) supplementation can protect against mild hyperglycemia and help prevent type 2 diabetes. β-alanine levels are decreased in the skeletal muscles of aged mice. β-alanine supplementation increased the physical performance and improved the executive function induced by endurance exercise in middle-aged individuals. Further studies focusing on the effects of amino acids and their metabolites on skeletal muscle function will provide data essential for the production of food supplements for older adults, athletes, and individuals with metabolic diseases.
Nutrients are sometimes handled differently in different countries. Choline is not yet a popular research topic, and it may be difficult to recognize its importance as a nutrient. Choline, which is the topic of this paper, is handled differently in different countries. However, the one thing that can be said to be common among all countries is that no country has a sufficient intake of choline that meets the target level.
The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study is a prospective cohort study with about 520,000 study participants enrolled from 23 centers in 10 western European countries (Greece, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway). This study is unique in that food frequency questionnaire-based dietary assessment methods are tailored to different eating habits in different countries, while maximum efforts were made for standardization of the food composition database and dietary intake calculations. Such an international collaboration project has not been conducted in East Asian countries, where dietary habits are considerably different from those in European and other countries. Accurate assessment of dietary intake in Asian countries is particularly challenging, as Asian diets are generally complex, consisting of many variations of compsite and mixed dishes. Nevertheless, these large variations in dietary habits warrant thorough investigation into the association between dietary factors and chronic diseases within each country. On the other hand, with technological advancement, more and more large-scale prospective cohort studies have used repeated measurements of dietary intake based on a more detailed dietary assessment method, such as multiple-day dietary records, which have not been incorporated in EPIC. Here, the author briefly summarizes the experiences and considerations in the conduct of EPIC as well as the current situation of dietary habits and research methodology in East Asian countries, and then discusses the importance of the development of cross-country nutritional epidemiologic research in East Asia in the near future.
Accurate measurement of diet is a prerequisite for nutrition research of all kinds, including surveillance and observational and intervention studies with regard to nutrition-related outcomes, but remains a big challenge. It is well acknowledged that no dietary assessment methods are free from measurement errors. Nevertheless, self-report dietary assessment tools are still invaluable not only because the study of nutrition cannot be isolated from the reality of food intake but also because objective biomarkers are available for only a few dietary components, without providing any insights into what people actually eat or drink or related contextual factors. Here, the author provides a brief introduction of selected novel techniquies of self-report-based dietary assessment tools: Intake24 (an online dietary recall system), FoodNow (a smartphone food diary application), and Food Combination Questionnaire and Meal-based Diet History Questionnaire designed for assessing eating behaviors and meal patterns. Despite their inherent limitations, self-report-based dietary assessment tools are still useful and indispensable for, particularly, eating behaviors and meal patterns. For each study, the most appropriate dietary assessment method should be selected based on its purpose, design, population, and resources. Continuous efforts should also be made to develop and evaluate new dietary assessment tools.
International collaborative work of prospective cohort studies has been conducted for a few decades. It has provided a rich source for researchers worldwide to investigate the role of dietary factors in the development of many diseases. A pooled analysis of the existing cohort studies has strengths, including increased statistical power, increased generalizability, the disclosure of unpublished work, use of the standardized approaches, a wide range of dietary exposures, inclusion of diverse populations, and a build-up of partnerships of investigators. The advantages of pooled analyses are significant in nutritional epidemiology. An increase in statistical power and analysis of multilevel exposures in the consortium data allow us to have better insight and knowledge of dietary factors related to chronic diseases. However, facilitating data harmonization of foods, food groups, and nutrients in the consortium data remains challenging. Combining and standardizing dietary data is complex, given differences in food frequency questionnaires, foods assessed, dietary exposure categories and intake levels, the validity of the dietary assessment, and nutrient database availability across individual studies. Although there are limitations in the pooled analysis, international collaborative pooled analysis is a valuable and efficient means to produce important scientific evidence. In addition, consortial research needs to continue to expand in the era of moving toward a diverse world and precision medicine.
Eating disorders are serious psychiatric conditions in terms of chronicity and have the highest mortality rate among psychiatric disorders. The assessment and treatment of eating disorders are also challenging, due to patients’ denial of their illness and reluctance for change. Despite a large number of previous assessment and treatment studies, new strategies to overcome these difficulties are still needed. This study casts light on four aspects; involvement of the brain’s reward system, stages of change in relationship with motivation, refeeding syndrome during renourishment, and gut microbiota changes relating to chronicity. Further studies relating to these aspects are encouraged.
To assess total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) under daily living conditions, the doubly labelled water (DLW) technique is considered the gold standard. This technique is accurate but also costly and requires specific lab equipment and expertise. It also provides an average measure of TDEE over a period of one to two weeks and hence no information on physical activity (PA) patterns is available. To overcome these shortcomings, activity monitors can be used to assess activity patterns and an estimate of TDEE can be made, provided the activity monitor has been previously validated in daily life using DLW. Most activity monitors contain accelerometers, that measure the acceleration of the body and hence represent body movement. By definition, body movement leads to energy expenditure (EE) and hence the two always need to be related. Activity monitors that provide an estimate of EE need to be validated so that the contribution of the sensor output to the prediction of EE is known. Subject characteristics such as body mass, height, gender and age already explain most of the variation of TDEE; the accelerometer should then represent the physical activity component of TDEE and improve the explained variation. Many activity monitors also contain additional sensors measuring other (physiological) output parameters such as heart rate, skin temperature, galvanic skin response or gps positioning. Although promising, so far there is no compelling evidence that these additional sensors improve the prediction of EE, so careful consideration is needed whether or not these are worth the extra cost, and the extra battery power and storage capacity needed. Again, it is important to know the individual contribution of each outcome parameter to the prediction of TDEE. In conclusion, activity monitors are valuable tools in PA research but also in nutritional research when energy balance is studied.
To discuss the importance associated with eating together for the Japanese population based on recent research evidence, we conducted a systematic review on eating together and eating alone in relation to health, diet, and lifestyle. In this review, we defined “eating together” as eating meals together with other people, not limited to family members but friends, relatives, or neighbors. Articles published between 2000 and 2018 were accessed using domestic and international databases (Igaku Chuo Zasshi, CiNii, J-STAGE, PubMed, Scopus, and Eric). After screening titles, abstracts, and full texts, 62 articles matching the criteria were included in the review. Most articles were cross-sectional studies. Target populations included preschool children (n=8), school-aged children through university students (n=34), and adults and the elderly (n=20). Although definitions of “eating together” differed by the studies, the most used indicator was “frequency of eating together,” with whom eating meals together being “family,” and the targeted meals were “breakfast and dinner.” Having either eating together occasions or few eating alone chances were more likely to associate with better quality of life, subjective health, food intake and balanced diet, dietary behavior, and life rhythm across the life course.
Ensuring nutritional adequacy during pregnancy is one of the necessary factors to achieve favorable pregnancy outcomes. In order to clarify the current optimal diet for achieving favorable pregnancy outcomes among East Asian women, we conducted a systemic literature review. English and Japanese articles were searched using PubMed and Igaku Chuo Zasshi. A total of 167 papers were retrieved, and six papers were finally selected for review. Five studies were conducted prospectively, and one was a case-control study. No significant associations were observed between dietary intakes and infant birthweight, but low intakes of fat and vitamin E were associated with preterm birth risk. Maternal diet with various food groups including vegetables was associated with higher birthweight and lower risk of preterm birth. A balanced diet with a combination of diverse food groups may be effective in achieving favorable pregnancy outcomes.
It is worthwhile to discuss new environmental-related approaches to eating behavior that are effective throughout one’s life course for better nutrition. Salt-reduction programs for children may benefit from strategies that actively engage families and teachers, according to a school-based cluster randomized controlled trial (School-EduSalt) in China to reduce salt intake in children and their families. Considering young people’s lifestyle, a population-based approach for healthy low-risk people is necessary; for example, the use of an educational song consisting of interesting sounds and lyrics as BGM may be effective. Self-monitoring of salt intake or salt concentrations in home seasoning by a versatile salinity meter may be another effective educational approach in reducing salt intake by raising the individual’s awareness on their rate of salt intake. Further, shift workers have increased risk of diet-related chronic conditions due to their eating habits. Moreover, mental illnesses among workers require nutritional approaches because they may have effects on subsequent weight changes. Finally, studies for the eldery suggest the importance of a nutritional approach especially for males living alone to prevent or improve frailty. A three-month approach that included nutritional education for the elderly reduced frailty, and the effects persisted post-intervention. These results are quite encouraging for nutritionists in their efforts to create a vibrant society, despite its incredibly age.
The world population is aging rapidly. Japan has the oldest population in the world, with 28% of the current population aged 65 y or older. Maintaining good nutrition is important for preventing age-related deterioration in health. Physical activity levels, energy intake, and weight tend to decrease with age. Decreased food intake increases the risk of undernutrition due to the inadequate intake of essential nutrients. The proportion of the older population that is malnourished ranges from 1% to 5% among independent older adults living in the community, and increases to 30% to 50% among residents of care institutions. Among older adults, the risk of death increases with increasing leanness. In Japan, the government pays considerable attention to the prevention of adverse health effects related to obesity among young and middle-aged adults, although the adverse health effects related to undernutrition and being underweight among older adults have been overlooked. In addition to providing nutrients, eating has important psychological and social benefits. Therefore, there is a need to pay attention to the diet and nutritional needs of older adults in Japan in order to promote and maintain their physical and mental health.
The type 2 diabetes (T2DM) pandemic in Asian countries has become an urgent problem to be solved for each country from a socioeconomic viewpoint, because the expense for management of diabetic complications is rapidly increasing. This is due to Westernization of lifestyle in Asian countries, which results in a greater prevalence of visceral obesity. Thus far, it is believed that impaired insulin secretion from pancreatic islets mainly contributes to the pathogenesis of T2DM in Asians. However, insulin resistance clearly underlies the prevalence of T2DM in Asian countries, as well as Western countries. Lifestyle intervention, including exercise and diet is an essential approach in care for patients with T2DM. In particular, nutrition therapy is a fundamental treatment that aims to correct overweight and improve insulin resistance. The principal requirement of nutrition therapy consists of energy restriction and a well-balanced intake of various nutrients. The lifestyle of people in Asian countries has dramatically changed in recent decades due to economic growth, which has made it difficult to provide guidelines for nutrition therapy. The uniform setting of nutrition goals is difficult to achieve because of diversity in eating patterns. This symposium aims to promote optimal nutrition therapy for T2DM through comparing the guidelines of different countries, including Korea, Japan, and the United States. Interactive talks among speakers are expected to yield a new perspective in nutrition therapy for the management of T2DM.
Older adults have physical and metabolic characteristics, and there are many differences in nutritional outcomes from middle-aged adults. In addition, there are many factors that cause malnutrition peculiar to the older adults, which are not seen in middle-aged adults, and it is easy for them to lose weight and become malnourished. Therefore, nutritional management needs to take into account the age of each subject. Uniform nutritional management can even cause poor health outcomes. The concept of frailty, especially phenotype frailty, and sarcopenia, which have been advocated with the aging of the population and the extension of life expectancy around the world, is very important in considering the extension of healthy life expectancy. In other words, in the super-aged society, frailty and sarcopenia have been emphasized as factors of functional decline, physical dysfunction, and the need for long-term care in addition to the well-known diseases such as cardiovascular disease, malignant tumors, and infectious disease. In fact, these two conditions are strongly associated with the increased risk of new disease development, falls, fractures, disability, hospitalization and death in the older adults. These two conditions are primarily associated with malnutrition and decreased dietary protein intake, and may recover to robustness again with appropriate interventions such as nutritional therapy. Therefore, undernutrition measures are more important for prevention of frailty and sarcopenia than measures for obesity against metabolic syndrome in the older adults, especially in the late-stage older people.
We have adopted the following four topics: 1) dietary phosphorus management in chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients, 2) inadequate nutrient intakes in Filipino schoolchildren and adolescents, 3) clinical and societal implications of vitamin insufficiency, and 4) zinc transporters. Vitamins and minerals play essential roles in health promotion in clinical and societal perspectives with marked advances in understanding the mechanism underlying such effects.
Evidence-based Clinical Practice Guidelines for Liver Cirrhosis were updated in 2021 by The Japanese Society of Gastroenterology/Japan Society of Hepatology. In the guidelines, the flowchart for nutritional therapy was revised based on accumulated evidence. In particular, sarcopenia is incorporated as an assessment for nutritional status. In addition, late evening snack is repositioned as a 1st-line nutritional therapy. Furthermore, recent study demonstrated unforeseen pharmacological actions of branched-chain amino acids including improving sarcopenia and prognosis. In this mini-review, we summarize the updated points for nutritional therapy for patients with liver cirrhosis.
The munber of chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients is increasing globally because kidney function is affected by aging and lifestyle habits. Malnutrition, muscle weakness, and a decline in activities of daily living (ADL) are often observed in elderly CKD patients and dialysis patients, and are related to their CKD prognosis and life prognoses. Chronic inflammation and atherosclerotic disease are associated with malnutrition. Because malnutrition and its related factors affect patients’ prognoses, it is necessary to identify and treat patients with malnutrition at an early stage. The state in which the stored protein and energy sources are reduced in CKD is called protein energy wasting (PEW). PEW is diagnosed on the basis of biochemical test findings such as hypoalbuminemia, unhealthy physique, and decreased muscle mass and dietary intake. For evaluating PEW, a complex nutritional index taking into account the pathophysiology specific to CKD patients is useful. Not only nutritional therapy but also exercise therapy is necessary to stop the vicious cycle associated with PEW and the decline in ADL.
Nutrition education is important to encourage people to promote a healthy diet; however, education alone exerts a limited effect. It is crucial to create a healthy food environment, including food systems that supply diversified, balanced, and healthy food options. Improving the food environment is a population approach. Radical population approaches necessitate removing the underlying impediments, such as high sodium products, sugar-sweetened beverages, and unhealthy ultra-processed foods. Negotiation and collaboration with the private sector is critical to tackle and solve these issues. In Japan, public-private-academic collaboration has been implemented since 2013 in the national health promotion action, termed Health Japan 21 (Second term). Recently, Japan has launched a novel initiative to create a healthy food environment.
Cumulative evidence shows that people with lower socioeconomic status (SES) have higher risk of mortality and non-communicable diseases, which are strongly related to diet. A low diet quality may be related to a rise in chronic non-communicable diseases from childhood onward. This literature review summarizes the food assistance for reducing health disparities among children in Japan. The school lunch program in Japan is important for achieving adequate nutrient intakes in schoolchildren and reducing disparities of adequate nutrient intake by household income levels. Additionally, the number of children’s cafeterias, contributing to the support of children suffering from poverty by providing free or low-cost meals in a comfortable environment, as well as being bases for multi-generational community communication, and where local children and adults eat together, has rapidly increased. Those who with lower SES tended to use food supports, such as the children’s cafeteria, as well as food pantries and emergency home food deliveries, during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be necessary to establish a public-private system that can provide information on local food assistance to people whose socioeconomic status has changed rapidly.
Health and Productivity Management has been promoted in Japan since 2014. Certification criteria for Health and Productivity Management include the improvement of employee health literacy. This report provides an overview of the “Eat, Sleep, Walk” health literacy development project using ICT+incentives+nudges developed for companies, and describes its preliminary evaluation and challenges.
One in every two school children, or 388 million children from all income levels, receives school meals every day in at least 161 countries. However, school meals are not uniform. It means the contents, timing, and method of offering are different across countries. School feeding has consequences for at least four different sectors. First is social protection as a social safety net to benefit the most vulnerable. Second is education. Sometimes school meals motivate parents to allow their children to attend school, especially in developing countries. Moreover, children who are fed well can concentrate on their studies. Third is agriculture. It promotes sustainable local markets by using the ingredients from the local area in school meals. Finally, school meals contribute toward the health and nutrition of present and prospective children. Nowadays, approximately 80% of countries have a school feeding policy. However, feeding policies differ across countries in respect of the government organization in charge and the order of priority in that country. This symposium provides background information, current situation, and quality improvement of school meals in four Asian countries and the US. We hope that this symposium is useful to learn about the current situation of school meals in various countries and to acquire ideas to improve them in your own country and the world.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics finished on 5 November 2021. A total of 870,000 meals were provided in the main dining facility during the events. Sports nutrition research in Japan began before the previous Tokyo Olympics, which was held in 1964. A book about sports nutrition in Japan had already been published, in 1949. A number of previous studies have examined nutrition among Olympic athletes, and influential research on sports nutrition in Japan includes a series of studies on sports anemia. This series covered basic research into the mechanisms of sports anemia through to the prevention of sports anemia. However, anemia among athletes remains an important issue. In Japan, an accreditation system for sports dietitians was established in 2007, and a scientific association for sports nutrition was established in 2004. However, the connection between basic research and practice remains a substantial problem.
Many studies in Western countries have reported that people with low socioeconomic status (SES) have a greater risk of obesity and non-communicable diseases. However, the relationship between SES and nutrition is considered to differ from country to country among Asian countries. Based on studies since 2010, the nutritional status of populations with low SES can be summarized as follows. In India, undernutrition among children and women has been reported. In China, low energy and nutrient intakes and undernutrition are common among children and the elderly, while both obesity and undernutrition are common in adults. In Japan and Korea, weight faltering in preschool children, low dietary quality among groups from school children to adults, and high obesity among adolescents and adult women have been reported. There are two types of policies aimed at reducing nutrition disparities: approaches for population and those for households with low SES. Nutrition disparities due to SES disparities in Asia need to be monitored. In Asia, studies on nutrition policy have focused on cash subsidies and food assistance for low SES households with the aim of improving undernutrition, but food environment measures for the population as a whole also need to be studied in order to reduce under- and over-nutrition, the double burden of malnutrition.
It is estimated that during FY 2018, food waste of 25.31 million tons and food loss of 6 million tons occurred in Japan. Of this total amount, 3.24 million tons of waste was generated from business, including the food manufacturing, wholesale, retail, and restaurant industries, and 2.76 million tons of waste was generated from households. Thus, it is crucial to mitigate both upstream and downstream food loss. As consumption patterns greatly influence not only downstream but also upstream food loss, special emphasis must be placed on increasing consumers’ awareness of this global issue, and several programs have been initiated to this end. Our research reveals that alongside awareness, enhancing consumers’ skills is of vital importance to efficiently reduce downstream food loss. Additionally, business operators must invest in improving the skills of those in charge to minimize food loss in commercial setups. Educating both consumers and businesses with the requisite skills to lessen food loss is equally essential. The authors are developing impactful serious games to help impart such education. These include a vegetable supply chain game (Veggie Mart Game), where consumers are players, and a milk supply chain game (Milky-Chain Game), where businesses are players. This paper introduces the authors’ current research on reduction of food loss.
Global efforts for sustainable healthy diets include the Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations in 2015, the Sustainable Healthy Diets by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization in 2019 and the Planetary Health Diet by the EAT-Lancet Commission. The food system is a dynamic and complex system, and systems approach is useful in providing stakeholders and policymakers with a comprehensive understanding of the broader food system. As local efforts, some of the recent articles using systems approach are introduced. They include systems modelling for local sustainability, policy activities for healthy and sustainable diets, food-related policymaking processes, low fruit and vegetable intake in children, and livestock-derived food system. In light of the existence of various stakeholders and policymakers, redesigning of the food system using systems approach may help mitigate climate change.
Japan is one of the countries with the highest life expectancy in the world, and maintaining good health is the key component to extend healthy life expectancy. According to World Health Organization, self-care is the ability to promote health, prevent disease, and maintain health. Food labels play an important role in healthy dietary habits for self-care. Food labels comprise nutrition claims and health claims. In Japan, the nutrition component exhibits the contents of energy, protein, fat, carbohydrates, and salt equivalent, which are mandatory, and saturated fat and dietary fiber, which are recommended. On the other hand, the health portion exhibits health maintenance and health promotion by nutrients/ingredients in foods. Under the Food Labeling Act, foods allowed to display health claims, are specified as “Foods with Health Claims” in Japan. The Consumer Affairs Agency reported that most consumers could not utilize food labels, even though the nutrition label serves as a parameter for a healthier food choice. In this regard, front-of-pack labels (FOPLs), are a beneficial tool which encourages people to choose healthier foods, and conduct self-care. However, FOPLs is still unfamiliar in Japan, so we have to investigate which nutrients and which type of FOPLs are the best for Japanese people. In addition to FOPL promotion, education is important to get consumers using food labels for extending their healthy life expectancy.
A population approach may be effective in reducing cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the entire population. In Japan, the first public population approach is Health Japan 21 from 2000 to 2012. In 2013, it was revised as Health Japan 21 (the second term), which was promoting the health of all citizens until 2022. In the final assessment, although a significant decrease in age-adjusted CVD mortality was observed, it is unclear why these findings occurred. An assessment system for a population approach for CVD needs to be developed in Japan.
Increasing intakes of vegetables are associated with risk reduction in various non-communicable diseases, especially cardiovascular disease. In order to compare the proportion of daily vegetable intake among adults from these 30 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries as well as Japan, we applied data from the OECD website and the 2017 National Health and Nutrition Survey, Japan (NHNS-J). The figures for Australia, Israel, Korea, New Zealand, and the United States exceeded 80%, where survey questions in these countries asked the amount of intake, instead of the frequency of intake. In Japan, results from the one-day dietary record showed that 99.2% of adults consumed vegetables on the survey day; however, this decreased to 66.3% when assessed by a qualitative question. Proportion of daily vegetable intake as well as average intake amount was higher among those aged 60 y or older. Health policies to increase vegetable intake should target younger age groups to promote health in future generations, in Japan.
There is growing interest in the health benefits of natural plant pigments such as anthocyanins and curcumin. In this review, we introduce how these pigments can contribute to the prevention of diabetes and obesity by stimulating glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) secretion or inducing beige adipocyte formation. Of the anthocyanins, delphinidin 3-rutinoside (D3R) was shown to increase GLP-1 secretion. Pre-administered D3R-rich blackcurrant extract (BCE) significantly ameliorated glucose tolerance after intraperitoneal glucose injection in rats by stimulating the secretion of GLP-1 and subsequently inducing insulin secretion. D3R did not break down significantly in the gastrointestinal tract for at least 45–60 min after BCE administration. An increase in endogenous GLP-1 secretion induced by food-derived factors may help to reduce the dosages of diabetic medicines and prevent diabetes. Curcumin has various biological functions, including anti-obesity and anti-diabetic properties. However, high doses of curcumin have been administered in most animal and human trials to date, due mainly to the poor solubility of native curcumin in water and its low oral bioavailability. We demonstrated that a highly dispersible and bioavailable curcumin formulation (HC), but not native curcumin, induces the formation of beige adipocytes. Furthermore, co-administration of HC and artepillin C (a characteristic constituent of Brazilian propolis) at lower doses significantly induces beige adipocyte formation in mice, but administration of the same dose of HC or artepillin C alone does not. Our studies demonstrate that curcumin formulations or the co-administration of curcumin with other food-derived factors provide effects that native curcumin alone does not.
Bone health is an important medical concern in rapidly aging demographics worldwide. Excessive bone resorption, due to enhanced activity of osteoclasts, is a major underlying cause of bone disorders such as osteoporosis. Inflammation and oxidative stress are key factors contributing to increased osteoclastic activity. Like increased activity of osteoclasts, depletion of osteoblasts also contributes to weakened structural integrity of bone. Considering the epidemiology of bone disorders and aging demographics there is a substantial need for novel bone health therapeutics. IRW (Ile-Arg-Trp), an egg-derived tripeptide, exhibits a spectrum of pharmacological activity. In our recent work, we have shown that IRW inhibits osteoclastogenesis and promotes osteogenesis in the mouse macrophage RAW 264.7 and MC3T3-E1 cells. IRW treatment (25 and 50 μM) significantly inhibited osteoclastogenesis-associated factors [TRAF6 (TNF Receptor Associated Factor 6), Fos Proto-Oncogene (c-Fos), Nuclear Factor of Activated T Cells 1 (NFATc1), and cathepsin K] and upregulated osteogenesis-associated factors [RUNX2 (Runt-related transcription factor 2) and RANKL (Receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B ligand)] in the two cell lines. Currently, we are conducting studies to analyze the impact of IRW on Angiotensin II (Ang II)-induced stress in vitro and in vivo. In summary, our recent work presents the ability of IRW to prevent LPS-induced inflammatory bone resorption and activation of osteogenesis activity via multiple signaling pathways.
Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry imaging (MALDI-MSI) is commonly used in food and pharmacological sciences to visualize localization of drugs and food compounds and their metabolites in plant, animal, and human tissues. The localization of compounds obtained by MALDI-MSI images provides useful information for elucidating their physiological and pharmacological properties. Food polyphenols, naturally occurring in tea, coffee, fruits and vegetables, have health benefits owing to their preventative effects against conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. In order to elucidate the pharmacological properties of polyphenols, their absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion must be investigated. However, application of MALDI-MS imaging for polyphenols is challenging due to lack of an appropriate matrix reagent to visualize polyphenols in targeted biological tissue. The present work highlights the development of MALDI-MSI for visualization of food polyphenols. Nifedipine, which produces a nitrosophenyl pyridine derivative under laser irradiation, could be a new matrix for MS detection of polyphenols. The combination of nifedipine and phytic acid (a metal-chelating agent) successfully achieved MS visualization of polyphenols in biological tissue. The inhibitor-aided MALDI-MSI has been applied for elucidation of intestinal absorption routes and metabolic behaviors of polyphenols. The MALDI-MSI technique shows great potential for visualizing absorption, distribution and metabolism processes of food polyphenols.
Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. The risk of developing CVD is associated with an unhealthy lifestyle. A high level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (LDL-C) is a primary risk factor for ASCVD. However, even if the LDL-C management target has been achieved, hypertriglyceridemia and a high level of total cholesterol minus high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (non-HDL-C), which contains cholesterol concentrations of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins, are considered a significant residual risk factor for ASCVD and consequently the management of these conditions is important for controlling the residual risk for ASCVD.
Epidemiological studies have suggested that diets rich in polyphenols/phenolic compounds are associated with reduced risk of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Experimental studies have indicated that these compounds have specific effects on AD pathogenesis as well as anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. For clinical use, several compounds have been investigated by clinical trials to establish their efficacy for prevention and treatment of AD or cognitive impairment.
Consumption of tea has been associated with many health benefits including the prevention of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and obesity. These effects are attributed to the polyphenol compounds in tea with catechins being the major components in green tea and theaflavins (TFs) and thearubigins (TRs) as the unique compounds in black tea. Tea polyphenols are extensively metabolized in vivo and have poor systematic bioavailability. It is generally believed that the metabolites of tea polyphenols retain their bioactivities and some of the microbial metabolites are more bioavailable than the parent compounds. This manuscript summarizes the recent progress on the identification of novel metabolic pathways of tea polyphenols and their contributions to the health benefits of tea.
Recent studies have revealed that various food components affect the immune response. It has been shown that such components could act on the intestinal immune system. On the other hand, intestinal microbiota and their metabolites affect intestinal immunity. Such findings suggest the possibility that food components could act on the intestinal immune system directly, indirectly through intestinal microbiota, or through collaborative immunomodulation by both.
Foods contain not only nutrients but also a wide variety of components related to flavor and functionality. Many studies have been conducted on the components of foods. Quantitative analysis has been used to assess compounds in food such as sugars, amino acids, and organic acids for food flavor; carotenoids and anthocyanins for appearance and color; and vitamins related to functionality for human health. Plants and animals that are food materials are thought to contain hundreds to thousands of compounds. Recent improvements in analytical technologies have made it possible to detect a large number of compounds simultaneously using metabolomics, a comprehensive analysis technology for low-molecular-weight compounds, and its application to food analysis has been reported. Food metabolomics has the potential to identify compounds related to flavor and functionality that have not been reported in previous studies; moreover, it is expected to add value to the target foods. By integrating the results of sensory evaluation, animal experiments, and other experiments with metabolomic data and providing them for analysis using informatics, such as artificial intelligence, it may be possible to derive more accurate evaluations of food quality.
Changes in eating habits are brought about by drastic changes in lifestyle and environment, and, it has been pointed out, are strongly involved in the increase in neurological diseases and onset of cancer in younger adult ages. There is a wide variety of chemical substances in food, and there is a need to analyze the effects of complex exposures on complex mechanisms of action and to develop methods for evaluating and predicting them. The power of molecular nutrition needs to create an integrated approach to human nutrition in line with the grand social challenges of diet-related illnesses. The current article aims to explore some of these areas where integration is appropriate. Therefore, in this symposium, we will introduce the contents of four performers who are conducting cutting-edge research. 1) Chemoprevention by vitamin A and its derivatives, 2) Toxicity prediction of natural compounds from a developing database of bioactive gradients from Kampo medicine, 3) Toxicity prediction of chemicals using pluripotent stem cells. 4) Detection of bioactive compounds in “Aji” or “Umami” in food. By detecting and predicting the biological activity and toxicity of chemical substances such as nutrients in foods, it will be possible to provide better molecular information on dietary components. In addition, we will introduce next-generation health and prevention methods.
Repositioning is usually used to indicate drug repositioning, or the finding of new disease applications for existing, approved drugs. Nutrients can be ingested for nutritional as well as therapeutic purposes, acting much the same as drugs. Amino acids are organic compounds that possess both amino and carboxy group functionalities and are best known as building blocks of proteins in living organisms. Recent studies of individual amino acids have revealed them to be functional ingredients of new therapeutics, promoting health in addition to nutrition. Here, we propose “nutrient-repositioning”, the discovery of effects different from the existing effects of nutrients. This review summarizes some recent discoveries of unexpected amino acid functions, especially in BCAAs, histidine and serine.
Agriculture has been an important source of the human diet throughout human history, but its relationship with human societies has transformed over the long course of more than 10,000 y. Urbanization and agricultural commercialization are significant among such changes and wield considerable impact on human diets, nutrition, and health. This paper presents four studies examining the influence of agriculture on diet and general health: 1) the impact of urban allotment gardening on human health and wellbeing in Japan, 2) the preference of people in Japan for collaborations between citizens’ farms and food-support organizations 3) the linkages between dietary diversity and agriculture in Indonesia, and 4) food sources and child nutrition in the deforested frontiers of Cambodia.
Food safety is very important to protect the health of consumers. In this manuscript, internationally agreed concepts and requirements of food safety and risk analysis are beiefly explained along with the topics of symposium.