FHIS Science Bytes - Dr. Alan Sneddon
Alan’s research areas lie in understanding the role of dietary micronutrients and fatty acids in health and disease. He has particular interests in the roles of selenium, an essential micronutrient, and polyunsaturated fatty acids in maintaining health and preventing disease. Selenium forms a major component of the antioxidant system which is the body’s defence mechanism against oxidative stress and damage. Oxidative stress is a normal part of cellular metabolism but increased levels are observed with ageing and in chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. Dietary selenium intakes in Scotland and the UK have declined to levels now considered marginal for optimal health which may be associated with lowered protection from oxidant damage and increased risk of chronic disease. Dietary fat also greatly influences health with excessive fat intakes leading to obesity and increased risk of associated diseases including type-2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. However, polyunsaturated fats such as the omega-3’s (present in oily fish) and conjugated linoleic acid (present in dairy products) may counteract the effects of the ‘bad’ fats and may be associated with decreased risk of disease. His current funded work is investigating how changes in the composition of livestock feeds, driven by the need to use more sustainable sources of ingredients, impact on product nutritional quality and the potential implications for the health of the consumer and the population. He also has an interest in exploring methods to maximise micronutrient and beneficial fatty acid levels in food products to create healthier products thereby boosting intakes and promoting health.