Dr. Liwei Gu
Chemistry and antioxidant capacities of phytochemicals in foods
Phytochemicals are plant-derived chemical compounds. “Phytonutrients” refer to phytochemicals or compounds that come from edible plants, such as flavonoids from fruits and vegetables. Elevated levels of reactive oxygen species in humans cause oxidative stress and subsequently increase the risk for cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Phytochemicals function as free radical scavengers and improve the antioxidant capacity in vivo. Dr. Gu’s research explores phytochemicals in fruits, berries, vegetables, and tree nuts, and tests their efficacy in quenching reactive oxygen species. Food storage and processing can alter phytochemical contents and composition and thus impacts the nutritional values of many foods. Additional research will also explore new food processing techniques that can effectively preserve phytonutrients.
Phytochemical bioavailability and efficacy in preventing chronic diseases
Upon entering the intestine, phytonutrients can be degraded or transformed into different structures by intestinal bacteria. The absorbed phytochemicals undergo further metabolism in the human body. Dr. Gu’s research aims to understand absorption and metabolism of phytochemicals and identify factors that can affect bioavailability. Phytochemicals have a potential role in affecting the fat/carbohydrate metabolism and energy balance. Additonal research will explore the efficacy and mechanism of phytonutrients in preventing metabolic syndrome and diabetics.
Nanotechnology in food and nutritional sciences
Nanotechnology is bringing changes to the agricultural and food industries. Research from Dr. Gu’s lab explores the fabrication, characterization, and applications of biopolymer-based nanoparticles in nutrient delivery, food safety, and their bioactivities.