Dr. Hayes by his perennial garden at Brandeis
Dr KC Hayes is Prof of Biology (in Nutrition) and has been studying the effect of dietary fat and oils on lipoprotein metabolism for 35 years, as a follow up to his initial training in Nutritional Pathology. His specific interest has been in cardiovascular disease, and most recently as affected by diabetes and obesity. His main focus has been on the relationship between individual fatty acids as they relate to blood cholesterol and trigylceride transport. In recent years he has developed special fat blends for commercial application that take these concepts to heart (so to speak). (See Smart Balance and Nextra.)
This website is devoted to discussion of the more important observations from these and other studies in animals and humans that address basic questions associated with diet, fat, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. An attempt has been made to discuss the special relationship between dietary saturated fat (fatty acids, SFA) and polyunsatuarted fatty acids (PUFA) as they affect blood lipids and glucose metabolism. A major concern for trans fatty acids in our diet is also included. (See Background Information.)
The long-term research objective of the lab is to study the impact of diet on disorders of energy metabolism, with a primary focus on lipoproteins and for their potential application to chronic human diseases, particularly atherosclerosis, obesity and diabetes.
Over the years we have determined that the different susceptibility to atherosclerosis among species depends on inherent and diet-induced differences in their lipoproteins (putatively the genetic and dietary control over lipoprotein character and metabolism). Our current experiments utilize mice and man to study the overlay of diet macronutrients (carbohydrates, fat, protein) on food intake and energy utilization. It appears that the gut-liver entry points for fat into circulation plays an important role in how insulin behaves, and whether energy is ultimately stored or burned as fuel. In this nutritional model, we are asking what potential modifications in macronutrient consumption will have the greatest impact on longterm health?
Using atherosclerosis-susceptible and diabetes-prone mice, we are taking advantage of gene-modified systems to determine how nutrients affect lipoproteins, atherosclerosis, obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes.
By assessing the fine points of fat composition and attending to the detail of fatty acid intake (including trans, satuarted, monusaturated, or polyunsaturated forms, or their organization on the TG molecule), we are measuring their effects on lipoprotein metabolism and disease. In addition, how do the fats we consume in foods, particularly fried foods containing trans fat or damaged fat from heating, affect metabolism and disease processes? We anticipate that this approach will allow us to determine how dietary fats (fatty acids) modulate these diseases. How does fat (fatty acids) influence glucose metabolism and diabetes? Are there particular nutrients or food components, such as phytosterols or other plant micronutrients, that are particlarly useful in modifying the general profile of nutrient intake?
Ultimately it will be important to resolve the genetic control points that underlie the differences in energy metabolism that are revealed by macronutrient manipulations.