Over the years the popularity of creating infographics to communicate a variety of topics, including nutrition research, has increased as they can be easily read and shared on social media.

The ASN Public Information Committee (PIC) has established a series of infographic competitions to provide recognition to individuals and/or teams of individuals for creating inspiring and instructive infographics that effectively communicate their nutrition research in a format suitable for the general public. 

The summer 2021 theme was “Precision Nutrition.” The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Nutrition for Precision Health, powered by the All of Us Research Program and the related Precision Nutrition: Research Gaps and Opportunities Workshop note that an underlying assumption of precision nutrition is that everyone responds to diet and nutrition interventions differently.  Therefore, precision nutrition aims to develop nutrition recommendations relevant to both individuals and population subgroups using a framework that considers multiple, synergistic influencers including dietary habits, genetic background, health status, microbiome, metabolism, food environment, physical activity, socioeconomics, psychosocial characteristics, and environmental exposures (NIH 2020).


Do fruit and vegetables reduce stress?

Contributors: Simone Radavelli-Bagatini, MBiolSc, PhD, Jonathan E. Shaw, MD, Joshua R. Lewis, PhD, Dianna J. Magliano, MPh, PhD, and Robin M Daly, PhD

Poor nutritional habits are linked to higher perceived stress, but the relationship between fruit and vegetable (FV) intake and stress is uncertain. The primary aim of this cross-sectional study was to explore the relationship between FV intake and perceived stress in a population-based cohort of men and women aged ≥25 years from the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle (AusDiab) Study. In 8,689 Australian men and women, dietary intake was assessed using a Food Frequency Questionnaire. Perceived stress was assessed using a validated Perceived Stress Questionnaire [with scores ranging from 0 (lowest) to 1 (highest)]. Persons with the highest intakes of FV had 10% lower stress than those with the lowest intake (p=0.004), independent of other lifestyle factors. In Australian adults, higher FV intake was associated with lower perceived stress. These findings support current recommendations that consumption of fruit and vegetables is essential for health and well-being.

Publication details: Fruit and vegetable intake is inversely associated with perceived stress across the adult lifespan. Clinical Nutrition. 2021 May 1;40(5):2860-7


Citizen Science Leads to Better Understanding of Links Between Diet and the Gut Microbiome

Contributors: Nicole Litwin, PhD, RD, Kat Gilbert, Graphic Designer, Se Jin Song, PhD, Aurelie Cotillard, PhD, and Patrick Veiga, PhD

The gut microbiome is largely shaped by what you eat. A recent retrospective, observational cohort study conducted in 1800 American adult participants from The Microsetta Initiative (TMI), found that the overall diet and its quality, matters more for the gut than specific foods or nutrients alone.

Researchers found that people with an eating pattern typical to the standard American/Western diet, consisting of high amounts of processed and sugary foods and very low amounts of plant foods had, unsurprisingly, the poorest diet quality and low microbial diversity in their gut. Researchers also identified a diet consisting of a wide variety of unprocessed plant foods with high amounts of dairy products, while including some meat. They found that people with this eating pattern, which they called Flexitarian, had the best overall diet quality with higher gut microbial diversity.

Although causality cannot be pinpointed, this large scale study further supports previous research that certain eating patterns consistently correlate with the gut microbiome. It also paves the way for future long-term observational and controlled diet studies to better understand the complex relationship between diet, gut microbiome composition, and human health.

Corresponding publication (in print): Aurélie Cotillard, Agnès Cartier-Meheust, Nicole S. Litwin, Soline Chaumont, Mathilde Saccareau,Franck Lejzerowicz, Julien Tap, Hana Koutnikova, Diana Gutierrez Lopez, Daniel McDonald, Se Jin Song, Rob Knight, Muriel Derrien, Patrick Veiga. A posteriori dietary patterns better explain variations of the gut microbiome than individual markers in the American Gut Project. AJCN. 2021.


What is Precision Nutrition?

Contributor: Megan Beggs, RD, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, O’Connor Lab, Department of Translational Medicine, The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids)

Precision nutrition seeks to individualize healthcare to each person in the context of their particular lifestyle, genetics, and environment. This infographic introduces the topic of precision nutrition and the factors that must be accounted for when individualizing care. The NIH aims to make precision nutrition routine care by 2030 by using advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence. People can visit https://commonfund.nih.gov/nutritionforprecisionhealth for more information on the ongoing research or how to get involved. Overall, a personalized approach to nutrition aims to offer people the best nutrition advice at the right place and time for them.


Genetics, Nutrition and Premenstrual Symptoms

Contributor: Tara Zeitoun, HBSc

Premenstrual symptoms (PMSx) are a set of psychological and somatic symptoms
exclusively experienced during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle [1]. Some commonly
reported somatic symptoms are cramping, headache, fatigue, nausea, and breast tenderness,
while some widely reported psychological symptoms are anxiety, irritability, depression, and
mood swings. Up to 99% of females of reproductive age report having PMSx [2]. Previous
epidemiological work has suggested that these symptoms negatively affect the quality of life in
females through educational, social and emotional means. It has been postulated that there is a
15% reduced occupational productivity in women who suffer from this ailment [3]. Given that
the average female typically menstruates between 12-50 years of age, this renders over 400
cycles in a lifetime in which these debilitating symptoms appear [4]. Many risk factors influence
the type of PMSx and severity. A few studies have assessed the role of micronutrients, namely
calcium and vitamin D, which have therapeutic effects on certain PMSx [5]. Genetic variation
both through twin studies and candidate gene association studies have also been implicated as
risk factors [6]. Other risk factors such as mental health, adiposity, age, lifestyle habits such as
sleep, alcohol intake and exercise are all common risk factors for PMSx occurrence.

Given that individuals respond differently to dietary interventions, and each female
experiences a separate set of symptoms, personalized nutritional interventions based on genetics
may help target specific PMSx in different females. Our research in nutrition, genetics and PMSx
suggest that compared to those with a typical risk of iron overload, as indicated by risk variants
in the HFE gene, those with an increased risk of overload had decreased odds of experiencing
premenstrual confusion, headaches, and nausea [7]. We also found that genes involved in
vitamin D metabolism, specifically in the VDR gene, modify the effect of plasma 25-hydroxy
vitamin D (25(OH)D) levels on PMSx [8]. Our results showed that insufficient 25(OH)D was
associated with a higher risk of premenstrual fatigue in those with the CC genotype but lower
risk in TT genotype carriers of the VDR genotype. Our future directions are to explore other
micronutrients and PMSx to help healthcare providers identify those who may benefit from
personalized dietary interventions, addressing ways to mitigate their risk of experiencing PMSx.
Tara Zeitoun


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  2. Jarosz AC, Jamnik J, El-Sohemy A: Hormonal contraceptive use and prevalence of
    premenstrual symptoms in a multiethnic Canadian population. BMC Womens Health
    2017, 17:87.
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    scores and health outcomes in premenstrual syndrome. J Womens Health (Larchmt)
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    RA, Gallagher JC, Gallo RL, Jones G, et al: The 2011 Report on Dietary Reference
    Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D from the Institute of Medicine: What Clinicians
    Need to Know. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 2011, 96:53-58.
  6. Treloar SA, Heath AC, Martin NG: Genetic and environmental influences on
    premenstrual symptoms in an Australian twin sample. Psychol Med 2002, 32:25-38.
  7. Zeitoun T, Dehghan Noudeh N, Garcia-Bailo B, El-Sohemy A: Genetics of Iron
    Metabolism and Premenstrual Symptoms: A Mendelian Randomization Study. The
    Journal of Nutrition 2021, 151:1747-1754.
  8. Jarosz AC, Noori D, Zeitoun T, Garcia-Bailo B, El-Sohemy A: Variation in the vitamin
    D receptor gene, plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D, and risk of premenstrual symptoms.
    Genes & Nutrition 2021, 16:15.