Raylene Reimer (De Bruyn), PhD
The research interests of our group focus on understanding the full potential of nutrition to prevent and treat obesity and type 2 diabetes. Our research spans basic science aimed at determining the mechanisms through with diet affects the progression and maintenance of obesity through to applied human clinical studies evaluating the effectiveness of novel dietary interventions. We have made significant progress in understanding how maternal diet during pregnancy ‘programs’ the risk of obesity and impaired glucose tolerance in offspring. Altering the macronutrient composition of maternal diet, in this case the dietary protein and fiber content, led to permanent changes in the accumulation of body fat and the ability to handle oral glucose in the offspring. Further insight into the lasting influence that maternal health status has on long term offspring health is being gained from work examining the aggressive treatment of obesity in female animals prior to becoming pregnant. We are currently using metabolomics to examine the global metabolite profile of pregnant rats fed an obesogenic diet and a high fiber diet. Given the clear evidence that dietary environment experienced early in life has long term consequences for health and disease risk, our goal in this work is to determine the most effective means of reducing programmed obesity risk in offspring.
Our group is also making progress in understanding the link between the human host and intestinal microbial communities. Recent evidence suggests that the abundant and diverse communities of bacteria in the intestine influence energy metabolism and thereby affect the development of obesity. We examine the effect of modifying intestinal bacteria toward healthy profiles with prebiotics (unique dietary fibers that selectively fuel healthy gut bacteria) and probiotics (live bacteria that confer a health benefit to the host). We have ongoing work translating this animal work into human clinical trial examining the effects of a prebiotics on appetite, food intake, and weight loss in overweight adults.
The long-term goal of our work is to identify novel nutritional therapies to prevent and treat chronic disease.