2009 Conference Report 

An international scientific conference, “Functional Foods for Chronic Diseases: Diabetes and Related Diseases," was held December 4-5, 2009, in Denton, Texas. This sixth annual conference was organized by Functional Food Center and hosted at Texas Woman's University (Denton, Texas).

The conference brought together experts in biology, medicine, and the food industry to discuss the contribution of functional food products in the prevention and treatment of diabetes, and its own complications like obesity and cardiovascular disorders.

The conference opened with a congratulatory speech made by the Professor Jimmy Ishee, Dean College of Health Science, Texas Woman's University.

Dr. Danik M. Martirosyan, the Founder of Functional Food Center Inc., presented a talk about Functional Foods: Definition and the Steps Necessary in Developing a Successful Functional Food Product.  Dr. Martirosyan has described; a) the necessity of a new definition of functional food, b) a new definition of functional food accepted by Functional Food Center Inc., and c) how to develop a successful functional food product.  

The researchers of the medical field presented modern mechanisms of insulin resistance, as well as of the potential of drug and food therapy. We would especially like to mention the following lecturers: Dr. Nicola Abate, MD, from the Division of Endocrinology, the University of Texas Medical Branch (Galveston, Texas); Dr. Carlos Viana, clinical nutritionist from Viana Healing Center (Dutch West Indies); and Dr. Mohamed Hassan from the College of Medicine (Oman).

Dr. Nicola Abate presented "Heterogeneity in Susceptibility to Metabolic Complications of Obesity." Dr. Abate mentioned that inappropriate response of adipose tissue to excessive caloric intake leads to complex metabolic complications currently identified clinically as the metabolic syndrome. Adipose tissue dysfunction can occur at any level of body fat content or distribution.

A group of medical-biological researchers presented the works covering the study of new bioactive compounds as well as functional foods for the prevention and treatment of diabetes and diabetes related disorders. Of special interest was the contribution of Dr. Nathan Bryan from the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine, the University of Texas-Houston Health Sciences Center (Houston, Texas) and Professor Nilanjana Maulik from the University of Connecticut Medical Center (Farmington, Connecticut).

Professor Nilanjana Maulik presented “Resveratrol: Expanding Roles in Diabetic Myocardium.” Her research investigated the molecular mechanisms of RSV-mediated angiogenesis in vitro and in vivo, and the molecular mechanism of GLUT-4 translocation and glucose uptake in diabetic myocardium. Dr. Maulik’s results indicate that hypoglycemic and the cardioprotective effect of resveratrol is mediated by increased activation of Trx-1, HO-1, VEGF, and eNOS. It might play an important role in reduction of metabolic disorders caused during diabetes and heart failure.

Dr. Nathan Bryan provided an extremely important result about inorganic nitrite and nitrate, which are bioactive food components. His research data reveal novel anti-inflammatory properties of nitrite and implicate the use of nitrite as a new natural therapy for microvascular inflammation and endothelial dysfunction associated with hypercholesterolemia. Furthermore, these data provide “convincing evidence that nitrite and nitrate should be viewed as indispensable nutrients and functional foods with NO bioactivity.” It was stated that nitrite and nitrate may serve as essential nutrients for optimal cardiovascular health and may provide a treatment modality for cardiovascular disease and for the management of conditions associated with NO insufficiency, such as diabetes.

In this conference, a special report was made about medicinal herbs and other botanical ingredients with reputed blood-sugar controlling activity. Mark Blumenthal, founder of American Botanical Council (Austin, Texas), made a report on commonly available herbs, spices, and other plant-derived materials that have shown safe and promising results in modern human clinical trials in the past few decades. The presentation reviewed medicinal herbs and other botanical ingredients with reputed blood-sugar controlling activity. These include the following ingredients: banaba leaf, bitter melon, chia seed, cinnamon, fenugreek seed, ginseng root (both American and Asian), glucomannan, gymnema, prickly pear, and others.

Another interesting speech was provided by the food industry representative Patrick Lesueur, Director of Research and Development Center at Unilever, Vlaardingen, Netherlands. For the first time at a Functional Foods Center conference, a representative of the food industry described the interest of food companies in functional and healthy foods.

We would like to mention several young scientists as well. Sinju Sundaresan, PhD, student from the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, TWU, (Denton, Texas); Blanche C Etoundi, PhD, student from the Laboratory of Nutrition and Nutritional Biochemistry, University of Yaounde (Cameroon); and Gabriela Angel-Morales, PhD, student from Nutrition and Food Science Department, Texas A&M University (College Station, Texas) gave very successful presentations.

We gathered medical doctors, scientists, clinical nutritionists, herbal professionals, and food industry representatives. Among attendees were researches, students, dietitians and nutritionists.

We had participants from the following countries: Armenia, Brazil, Cameroon, China, Dutch West Indies, England, India, Iran, Korea, Russia, Sri-Lanka, Nepal, Netherlands, Oman, Serbia, and USA, among others.

An abstract book was composed by 138 authors from the following countries: Algeria, Brazil, Cameroon, China, Dutch West Indies, Colombia, France, India, Iran, Lithuania, Nepal, Nigeria, Oman, Russia, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Uganda, and USA.  The book Functional Foods for Chronic Diseases Volume 5, including presentations from the sixth international conference, will publish within a few months.

Dr. Danik M. Martirosyan, PhD, Founder of Functional Food Center Inc., and Honorary Research Associate Clinical Professor at Texas Woman’s University.

Dr. Chandan Prasad, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences at Texas Woman’s University.