He calls it “fire in the gut.” It’s the excitement, the burning drive to work through a problem and see the solution. It’s staying up at night, turning something over and over in your head and feeling exhilarated when you finally come up with an answer, says Chris Hardin, Professor and Chair of the Nutritional Sciences Department.
Chris Hardin has two principal lines of research in his laboratory. The first is a close examination of the way the human body metabolizes sugar, which Hardin has been examining for twenty years. For the second and more recent project, Hardin seeks to develop a better way to determine whether certain drugs associated with statin-therapy (for high cholesterol) are causing dangerous muscle pain and weakness.
The Nutritional Sciences department is a part of three colleges, and is collaborating with three departments to create a metabolic kitchen. Hardin is overseeing the project, which he hopes will work to combat the obesity epidemic in the U.S.
Although Hardin is wary of taking a stance on specific diets, he does recommend food that doesn’t cause blood-sugar spikes and an overall diet characterized by moderation. “Fundamentally, your grandmother was right," he says. “Eat your vegetables, don’t eat too much junk, go outside and play.” And don’t worry: you can still eat pizza – as long as you don’t eat it all the time.
Hardin gives a tour of what will become MU’s state-of-the-art metabolic kitchen. Although the space in the basement of the Nutritional Sciences building is currently full of old rat cages and unusable lab equipment, Hardin envisions shiny countertops and places to package food. He also hopes to be able to record cooking demonstrations and investigate the way children select their food.