Prof. Neil Mann

pat silcock

Prof. Neil Mann

Professor of Human Nutrition, University of Melbourne

Have you done any specific work related to sugars, carbohydrates or nutrition, and what did you find?

I’ve done several studies on glycaemic index and disease. We have specifically looked at acne and diabetes, and how the overall glycaemic index of the diet can impact the progression of these conditions. In both cases we were able to show that a diet focusing on low GI carbohydrates was beneficial in improving the body’s insulin response and reducing the severity of these conditions.

I’ve also been involved in researching human diet history, including changes in dietary patterns from an evolutionary perspective, how we have adapted to changing food availability and the impact of these changes on our micronutrient intake and brain function.

Where do you see a gap in our scientific knowledge on sugars, carbohydrates and nutrition?

There is so much focus on sugar at the moment, but so much we still don’t understand. We need more research comparing the effects of different diets on the glycaemic response and other markers of cardiovascular disease like triglycerides, cholesterol and blood pressure.
For example, it will be good to have more studies that compare sugar-rich diets with starch-rich or protein-rich diets to see how the body responds. This will allow us to make better recommendations on what to eat to prevent or manage conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

What area of nutrition and food science are you most interested in right now, and what’s on the horizon in these areas?

I’m interested in all areas of nutrition and food science, and using the research to better understand how our body responds to what we eat. Although I’m now retired from research, I have been leading the development of a nutrition and food science department at the University of Melbourne.

It’s exciting to be involved in training the next generation of researchers in nutrition and food science, especially when there is still a lot to be discovered. I think this new department will have a lot of nutrition and food insights to contribute in the coming years.

What is your favourite sweet food?

Chocolate is my favourite sweet food. I particularly enjoy good quality dark chocolate made from quality ingredients, rather than cheaper versions.

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