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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UAlbany: Selenium Intake in the Peruvian Amazon and Its Association with Adoption of a Western Diet

Selenium (Se) is an essential micronutrient that protects cells from oxidative stress and helps to regulate thyroid hormones. Components of the traditional diet in the Peruvian Amazon, such as brazil nuts and fish, are rich in Se. Development in the Southern Peruvian Amazon, especially the construction of the Interoceanic Highway (IOH), has led households to shift away from traditional dietary practices and towards more Western diets.

A team of researchers, led by University at Albany School of Public Health’s Dr. Beth Feingold and Albany College of Pharmacy’s Dr. Stacy Pettigrew, explored whether this dietary shift was associated with lower Se intake. Their findings were published in Science of the Total Environment.

The team collected surveys from 310 households (1021 participants) in 46 communities along the IOH on the consumption frequency of 26 different foods and the changes in consumption frequency since the paving of the IOH. Toenail or fingernail samples were collected from the individuals to determine Se levels.

For participants who lived in urban areas, Western diet adoption was inversely associated with Se intake, while this association did not exist for those who lived in rural areas. These results may be because urban populations have more widely adopted a Western diet. Since Se may have protective effects against chronic diseases that are widespread in Western populations, this work highlights the importance of studying nutritional transition as diets change in the Peruvian Amazon.

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