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How Diet Influences the Relationship Between the Brain and Gut

RK 307

October 25, 2023 3:00 pm - October 25, 2023 4:00 pm

Presented by the Interdisciplinary Research Cluster on Wellness

Join us for this upcoming presentation exploring how diet influences the relationship between the brain and gut by Juliana Montoya Sanchez, a Graduate Student from the University of Alberta.

Event Details

Speaker Name: Juliana Montoya Sanchez (BA), Graduate Student, University of Alberta

Presentation Title: A gut feeling: How diet influences the relationship between the brain and gut

Presentation Description

Due to the brain’s connectivity with the gut, the relationship between diet and brain health has become integral to understanding mental illness. Over the past 40 years, diets high in fructose have become popular. Fructose is a sugar that is found in corn syrup and carbonated beverages and its consumption has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. Consequently, fructose is proposed to cause brain inflammation related to increases in anxiety and depression. Previous work has also emphasized dietary changes that are anti-inflammatory, such as increased fiber intake. Specifically, it is demonstrated that the short-chained fatty acid butyrate produced in the gut due to microbial fermentation of dietary fiber could be anti-inflammatory in the gut and brain. As the resident immune cells of the central nervous system, microglia release pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory molecules known as cytokines (IL6 and IL10) in response to inflammatory and anti-inflammatory stimuli, respectively. Our research focuses on understanding how fructose and butyrate influence microglia immune responses and how this influences brain inflammation. Our work also emphasizes the importance of sex differences in microglia immune responses and how butyrate can cause different anti-inflammatory responses in microglia.

About the Speaker: Juliana Montoya Sanchez

Juliana Montoya Sanchez has her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and is currently pursuing a Master of Science degree in Neuroscience at the University of Alberta. She is co-supervised by Dr. Kathryn Todd (Neurochemical Research Unit, University of Alberta) and Dr. Matthew Churchward (CUE Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences). Juliana’s research interests focus on how the gut and brain work together to affect mental health and wellness, with a specific emphasis on understanding how factors in the diet can influence brain inflammation and function.

Juliana Montoya Sanchez