Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Andrea Arikawa

By: Thomas Muslinski


Dr. Arikawa is a Professor in the Nutrition field. She received her MPH in Nutrition from University of Sao Paulo, her PhD in Nutrition with a minor in Biostatistics from Minnesota and became a Registered Dietitian from Iowa. Right away we started talking about some research that she was very interested in starting and hopefully getting approved for it.

Q) What exactly is your research question for the research you want to conduct?

A) “First we just want to know the prevalence of dietary supplement use is.” She went on to say that they will get a broad spectrum of take people that obviously go to the gym and take a lot of supplements, some supplements and people that don’t take any supplements. In order to get this broad spectrum hopefully around 200 people will be a good amount. She also said that, that is the first research question. The second question that spawns from the first question is, “To see if there is an relation between taking supplements and levels of certain biological markers of inflammation and oxidative stress.” She also went on to say that there are many questions we can look at from that and the first question also. One of these questions could be, “Do people that take supplements have a healthier diet as opposed to people that don’t.” After she brought that up I added that through my experience, I have realized that the people who understand what the supplements actually do for you are the ones who use them to supplement their strict diets. It is easy to see which do this because they look more “ahead” of the competition. She actually said that I touched on the third objective of the study, which is, “To form focus groups and see actually how much they know about these supplements and where they get their information about them.”

Q) I asked her why most of her publications and research was based around exercise or sports nutrition and why that was.

A) She said that she started this entire work post doc, she said that it was just starting, they needed a post-doc and it was related to women and prevention of breast cancer which was her area, prevention of cancer. She said, “It just fell into my lap.” She found it very interesting because most of it was exercise related instead of diet related. She actually stats, “A very little portion was diet related.” After she completed this study she realized, “How important the effects of exercise could be in prevention of disease.” It was then she realized that, “You can not have a study with diet without the exercise component.” It is just like looking at a scale. On one side you have the diet and on the other side you have the exercise. If both are in order there is balance but when one if off it will mess up the system and through off the equilibrium.

Q) What is the fastest growing problem in the Nutrition community?

A) “What I see from going to meetings this year is that we are going through a period of transition where some of the old beliefs and paradigms are changing.” We are putting more emphasis decreasing sugar intakes, or carbohydrates, and increasing more whole foods. From this topic we started talking about insulin spike after a high carbohydrate meal and she went on to say, “That even though is after the big peak in insulin, on the way back after the spike it can lower your blood level with nutrients.” It made perfect sense, I get the feeling of hunger no more than an hour after I have had my post workout meal and it is because of that reason. She replied with that saying, “So maybe with less of a peak you don’t get that strong hunger feeling as quickly.”


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