Speaker Spotlight: Kristina Martinez, PhD, RD

Obesity, Insulin Resistance, and Gut Microbiota

Time & Place:
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Sunday | Room 20A

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Kristina Martinez, PhD, RD

About the speaker:
Dr. Martinez is a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Chicago who for four years has worked to understand how diet impacts gut microbiota—the bacterial communities present in the gut—and how that, in turn, affects metabolism and the development of obesity and diabetes.

Session overview:
The session starts with a big-picture look at how high-fat diets impact the gut microbiota and how animal and human models have been used to find proposed mechanisms for dietary-mediated changes in microbiota that can lead to obesity and insulin resistance.

Dr. Martinez then will talk more specifically about her research regarding how diet affects microbial structure and how microbes regulate lipid absorption in the small intestine. Her results show that gut bacteria are essential for proper digestion and absorption of dietary fat.

She also will discuss results from a pilot study of eight subjects involving short-term prebiotic supplementation. Half of the subjects displayed improvement in both insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance.

“What was interesting is that those who responded well to the supplement had associated changes in their gut microbial profiles, whereas those who didn’t respond positively to the supplement had no change in their gut microbiota,” she said.

Why this session matters to AADE16 attendees:
The general public’s interest in prebiotics and probiotics continues to grow, so this session will provide attendees with insight into the how these supplements work and impact a person in both positive and negative ways.

The prebiotics Dr. Martinez uses in her research are ones available to the general public.

“I’m sure there’s a lot of interest by the community at large and the patient population that could be inquiring about these types of therapies on their own,” Dr. Martinez said. “These are very readily available to them because they are all commercially available.”

Take-home messages:
Gut microbes are essential for nutrient absorption and digestion, and those microbes can be manipulated by dietary supplements or probiotics to provide a metabolic benefit, Dr. Martinez said.

Also of note:
Dr. Martinez also will talk about some studies that show diet overrides genetics when it comes to changing microbial communities. She also will touch on other therapies used to target gut microbiota, including fecal microbial transplants.

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