Congratulations to Sharon and Claire!

Our graduate and undergraduate students are rockin’ it!  Congratulations, ladies!

Sharon Thompson, a predoctoral fellow in the laboratory, was awarded a predoctoral fellowship from the USDA AFRI NIFA Fellowship Program.  The two-year, $120,000 fellowship was awarded for a study entitled “Impact of avocado consumption on the gut-microbiota-liver axis among adults with overweight and obesity.” In addition, Sharon was a finalist and the grand prize winner in the American Society for Nutrition’s Clinical Emerging Leaders Competition.

Claire Cheng, an undergraduate researcher in the laboratory, was selected as a 2019 Emerging Leader in Nutrition by the American Society for Nutrition. Claire was also recently recognized by the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition for her outstanding undergraduate research contributions.  She was awarded BOTH the Nishida Research Award and the Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award.  Lastly, Claire was recently accepted into the M.S., R.D. program at Tufts.


Congratulations 2019 graduates!

Congratulations to our 2019 graduates!  Stay in touch!

Yijie (Claire) Cheng, B.S. in Food Science and Human Nutrition

Christine Jones, B.S. in Food Science and Human Nutrition

Jessica Kassuelke, B.S. in Food Science and Human Nutrition

Arim Lee, B.S. in Chemistry

Sean Sheth, B.S. in Molecular and Celluar Biology

Arti Veller, B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology (with distinction)


What is inulin, and why is it showing up in so many food products?

Dr. Holscher is quoted in an article in the Washington Post about inulin, a common prebiotic.  


June 12 at 7:00 AM

Fiber is “the new protein,” according to market research firms. But it could also be the new pain in your stomach.

If you’re like most Americans, you’re trying to add more fiber to your diet. That’s a good thing, because the average American gets only half the recommended amount of fiber each day. Manufacturers are responding to consumers’ wishes by adding fiber to a plethora of foods and beverages, including cereals, energy bars, protein supplements, “healthier” cookies, diet ice cream and even bottled water.

One of the most prevalent fiber-boosting ingredients is inulin. Like any fiber, it can cause gas, bloating and abdominal pain if consumed too quickly or in large quantities. Many of my clients who have complained about digestive discomfort don’t realize how much inulin they’re consuming each day. Most of them have never even heard of it.

Here’s what you should know about inulin, including how much you need and how to determine how much you are getting.

Read the full article here:

What Are Prebiotics?

Interested in learning more about prebiotics?  Check out this article in the U.S. News & World Report.  Dr. Holscher gives a tip on how to remember the difference between probiotics and prebiotics and provides information about some of the health benefits of prebiotic consumption.

Chances are, you’ve heard about probiotics. You know, those good gut bacteria that may provide a boost to gut health and offer a variety of other health benefits. Probiotics are also present in yogurt and other fermented foods like kimchi and kombucha, as well as supplements.

But what are prebiotics? They’re essentially compounds that feed the friendly bacteria in the gut. They are largely fermentable carbohydrates — meaning us humans cannot digest them. Prebiotics help nourish gut bacteria so they can better thrive.

To remember the difference between probiotics and prebiotics, take this advice from Hannah D. Holscher, assistant professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois: “When I think about prebiotics, I remember the ‘e’ for the energy they provide for gut bacteria. And for probiotics, I think of the ‘o’ for organism in the gut microbiome.”

11 high-fiber foods to help America close the fiber gap

Looking for some fiber-rich foods to add to your diet?  Dr. Holscher is quoted in an article by Julia Belluz in Vox.  

Lots of small changes to the diet can help us get the fiber we’re missing.

Fiber is the closest thing we have to a true superfood — or super-nutrient since it’s in so many different foods. Eating a fiber-rich diet is associated with better gastrointestinal health and a reduced risk of heart attacks, strokes, high cholesterol, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and even some cancers. That’s because fiber is amazingly helpful in many ways: It lowers cholesterol and inflammation, feeds our microbiome, and slows the body’s absorption of glucose, which evens out our blood sugar levels.

But, as I showed in a recent piece, the vast majority of Americans don’t reap fiber’s rewards, failing to meet the minimum recommended daily intake of 25 grams for women and 38 gramsfor men.

So how can we eat more? Every researcher I spoke to suggested eating a diversity of whole foods, instead of relying only on supplements or fiber-enriched processed foods, especially the sugary bars and brownies now being marketed as fiber-delivery tools.

Today, the array of options for fibrous foods are way more delicious than Metamucil. On a list of foods according to their fiber content, from the USDA, these were among the top (yes, popcorn and avocados are right up there):

Read the full article:

Nearly all Americans fail to eat enough of this actual superfood

Interested in learning more about dietary fiber?  Dr. Holscher is quoted by Julia Belluz for an article in Vox.


While we obsess about carbs and protein, we’ve ignored fiber — at our peril.

When we fret about the deterioration of the American diet, we tend to focus on the excessive amounts of sugar, salt, and calories we’re now eating.

What we don’t talk about: an important ingredient that’s gone missing as we’ve been filling our plates with more chicken and cheese.

Fiber. Only 5 percent of people in the US meet the Institute of Medicine’s recommended daily target of 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. That amounts to a population-wide deficiency — what nutritionists call the “fiber gap.”

Read the full article: