All articles are freely available until September 30, 2021
The Editors of the four American Society for Nutrition (ASN) journals invite you to explore Biomarkers of Food Intake, a new ASN Themed Collection. All the articles in this collection are freely available to all readers regardless of subscription status until September 30, 2021.
Biomarkers serve as measures of food and nutrient intake. Unlike self-reported measures such as dietary recall, which are highly subject to inaccuracy and bias, biomarkers are much more objective. In particular, biomarkers of food intake strengthen nutritional epidemiology association studies and could be pivotal for moving toward nutrition for precision health.
Biomarkers of Food Intake explores the latest scientific advances in the development and application of nutritional biomarkers. Readers will discover how some of these biomarkers have been used to help us better understand how dietary patterns among diverse populations can affect their nutrition and health status. The collection also introduces an emerging group of biomarkers that help us better understand the impact of diet on metabolism. Moreover, the collection explores new biomarker signatures, which are sets of biomarkers that collectively enable more precise, reliable measurements of food intake .
Nineteen articles have been chosen for this Themed Collection, with representative articles from all four ASN journals. Below are highlights:
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Serum Untargeted Metabolomic Profile of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Dietary Pattern
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) has been broadly recommended to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. In this study, ASN member Casey M. Rebholz et al. sought to identify metabolites that could serve as biomarkers for the DASH diet by conducting untargeted metabolomic profiling in serum specimens collected from study participants. Specifically, the authors hoped to identify candidate biomarkers associated with an overall DASH dietary pattern given that nutrients do not act in isolation.
In order to conduct their research, study participants were randomly assigned one of three diets: DASH, a control diet similar to the typical Western dietary pattern, and a fruit and vegetable diet containing elements of both the DASH diet as well as the control diet. At the end of eight weeks, the authors conducted untargeted metabolomic profiling among serum specimens.
Forty-four serum metabolites were identified that differed significantly between participants assigned to the DASH diet compared to the two other dietary patterns. According to the authors, “our study findings address a pressing need in nutritional epidemiology for objective biomarkers of dietary intake without the type of error that threatens the validity of estimated dietary intake assessed by using food-frequency questionnaires, 24-hour dietary recalls, and diet records.”
The Journal of Nutrition: Plasma, Urine, and Adipose Tissue Biomarkers of Dietary Intake Differ Between Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian Diet Groups in the Adventist Health Study-2
The Adventist Health Study-2 (AHS-2) cohort has found differences in food composition, nutrient intake, and health outcomes for vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Fayth L. Miles et al. sought to determine whether biomarkers of dietary intake also differed between vegetarians and non-vegetarians based on their patterns of meat, dairy, and egg consumption. In order to conduct their research, the authors collected fasting plasma, overnight urine, and adipose tissue samples from a subset of AHS-2 participants classified into five diet groups: vegan, lacto-ovo-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, and non-vegetarian.
The results of the study showed marked differences in several biomarkers of dietary intake among the five diet groups. In particular, notable differences were seen for plasma, urine, and adipose biomarkers when comparing vegans, lacto-ovo-vegetarians, and pesco-vegetarians to non-vegetarians. The authors noted, “our findings also provide some validation of the dietary patterns represented in the AHS-2 cohort, and may help to elucidate the significance of diet-related biomarkers in disease prevention.”
Advances in Nutrition: Nutritional Metabolomics and the Classification of Dietary Biomarker Candidates: A Critical Review
Advances in metabolomics have given rise to a group of metabolites that can be used as measures of dietary intake. However, the quality of evidence supporting the use of these new dietary biomarkers as objective measures of food intake or complex dietary patterns among diverse populations has not been systematically evaluated.
In response, Talha Rafiq et al. reviewed 244 nutritional metabolomics studies of metabolites that could be used as biomarkers for specific foods or food groups. For each metabolite, the authors sought to rate the evidence based on the interstudy repeatability of the dietary biomarker. According to the review’s findings, 69 of the metabolites under review represent good candidate biomarkers of food intake. The authors have called for future research to further validate these metabolites, noting “quantitative measurement of these metabolites will advance our understanding of the relation between diet and chronic disease risk and support evidence-based dietary guidelines for global health.”
Current Developments in Nutrition: Some Differences in Nutritional Biomarkers Are Detected between Consumers and Nonconsumers of Organic Foods: Findings from the BioNutriNet Project
Meta-analyses have compared the nutrient content of organic and nonorganic foods; however, the impact of such variations on human nutritional biomarkers has not been fully elucidated. In response, working with the NutriNet-Santé study, Julia Baudry et al. sought to compare the nutritional biomarkers of organic and non-organic food consumers.
Based on a self-reported food frequency questionnaire, 150 low-organic food consumers, whose diet consisted of less than 10% organic food, and 150 high-organic food consumers, whose diet consisted of more than 50% organic food, were selected for the study. Participants were matched using a propensity score derived from socio-demographic, food, and health variables, enabling the researchers to better gauge the effect of an organic diet versus a non-organic diet on nutritional biomarkers. The authors found that high consumption of organic foods compared with low consumption, but within the same dietary pattern, could modulate the plasma concentrations of magnesium as well as some carotenoids. “If confirmed by other studies,” the authors stated, “our data suggest that a high consumption of organic foods, compared with very low consumption, modulates to some extent the nutritional status of individuals with similar dietary patterns.”
We invite you to peruse Biomarkers of Food Intake in its entirety. If you are conducting research in this area, please consider submitting your findings for publication in an ASN journal, so that we can continue to grow the body of scientific evidence in this important area of nutrition science.