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Annals Reports (6)

Edited by

Edited by Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences editorial staff

Annals Reports (6)

Published: December 2013

Volume 1306

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Recent advances in our understanding of the community structure and function of the human microbiome have implications for the potential role of probiotics and prebiotics in promoting human health. A group of experts recently met to review the latest advances in microbiota/microbiome research and discuss the implications for development of probiotics and prebiotics, primarily as they relate to effects mediated via the intestine. The goals of the meeting were to share recent advances in research on the microbiota, microbiome, probiotics, and prebiotics, and to discuss these findings in the contexts of regulatory barriers, evolving healthcare environments, and potential effects on a variety of health topics, including the development of obesity and diabetes; the long-term consequences of exposure to antibiotics early in life to the gastrointestinal (GI) microbiota; lactose intolerance; and the relationship between the GI microbiota and the central nervous system, with implications for depression, cognition, satiety, and mental health for people living in developed and developing countries. This report provides an overview of these discussions. Free online access

This Annals volume also includes a report that reviews the current nutrition education curricula for students in U.S. medical schools, and schools of other health professions, such as nursing and oral health. The current curricula do not provide enough opportunity to gain knowledge of the interactions among micro- and macronutrients, their role in maintaining optimal body functions, factors that interfere with these interactions, or, importantly, how to integrate this knowledge into medical practice. There is a need to better prepare healthcare professionals for identifying nutrition risk and managing hospitalized patients, especially those with chronic conditions, using an interprofessional, team-based approach. A major goal of this report is to revisit current nutrition training programs for physicians and other healthcare professionals in order to explore opportunities for providing healthcare providers with the essential tools of preventative and therapeutic nutrition intervention strategies. The issues addressed include whether a consensus exists on how to integrate basic and applied nutrition into the general healthcare professional curriculum, and if so, at which stages of training and at what depth should these integrations occur; how nutrition education is dealt with and achieved throughout all the health professions; and whether current nutrition education models are sufficient. To help address these issues, the report will review the strengths and weaknesses of current nutrition education practices as well as evaluate promising new initiatives, and offer proposals for new directions for nutrition education training of future generations of medical practitioners. Free online access

The last report presented in this Annals volume discusses circadian clocks, which are temporal interfaces that organize biological systems and behavior to dynamic external environments. Components of the molecular clock are expressed throughout the brain and are centrally poised to play an important role in brain function. These topics were discussed at the recent International Scientific Group of Circadian Rhythm Experts (INSPIRE) conference, held in Viareggio, Italy. This report focuses on key issues concerning the relationship among circadian clocks, brain function, and development, and discusses three topic areas: (1) sleep and its relationship to the circadian system; (2) systems development and psychopathology (spanning the prenatal period through late life); and (3) circadian factors and their application to neuropsychiatric disorders. Also explored are circadian genetics and psychopathology and the selective pressures on the evolution of clocks. Last, a lively debate is presented on whether circadian factors are central to mood disorders. Emerging from research on circadian rhythms is a model of the interaction among genes, sleep, and the environment that converges on the circadian clock to influence susceptibility to developing psychopathology. This model may lend insight into effective treatments for mood disorders and inform development of new interventions. Free online access