Alyce D Fly
After a meal, nutrients are digested and absorbed and delivered to our tissues via the blood supply. In this postprandial state some nutrients are rapidly metabolized, and during the processing, generate molecules that have the potential to damage membrane lipids and body proteins. These threats are managed by several antioxidant defense systems. Our laboratory seeks to understand how the effects of frequent eating or “snacking”, a dietary practice that has become commonplace over the last 20 years, is related to maintaining the body’s health. Body weight and body fat have also increased in the US over time and these changes may also impact our ability to manage metabolism after a meal. To study feeding frequency, and the ability of different dietary factors to affect blood biomarkers of healthy and diseased states, we use a technique called peripheral arterial tonometry to examine the health of the peripheral vascular system. In addition, we measure blood biomarkers, including those that indicate oxidative stress in concert with the James Klaunig Toxicology Laboratory Group in the Department of Environmental Health.
Our interest outside of the laboratory is in improving food behaviors of children and adolescents, so that they will have adequate nutrients to protect their bodies, and develop a body composition that may help protect them against chronic diseases later in adulthood. In this regard we have a longstanding relationship with the Indiana Department of Education to study fruit and vegetable intake of school children. Most recently we have begun studying a program using athlete mentors to influence fruit and vegetable-eating behaviors. We have worked with our public partners (the Indianapolis Colts, the Produce Mom, and the Indiana Department of Education) to implement a pilot intervention to promote consumption of fruits and vegetables, increase variety and reduce fruit- and vegetable- neophobias in school children.