LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Improves Military Performance and Resilience
November 09, 2022
Supporting Soldier Health
For over three decades, LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center has been the leading provider of nutrition science for the U.S. Department of Defense. Now, through a new federal award of $3.6 million, researchers Tiffany Stewart and Jennifer Rood will launch four additional projects to improve the health, performance and resilience of the American solider and Louisiana guardsmen and cadets.
In the first project, Stand Ready, Rood will establish connections between diet and disease with an eye on personal biochemistry and metabolic biomarkers to allow the military to optimize how individual soldiers eat. Precision Defense, also led by Rood, will investigate the need for different diets for male and female soldiers to increase iron absorption, reduce reliance on muscle glycogen as fuel and minimize loss of lean muscle during strenuous military operations. Stewart’s Four Pillars of Defense, meanwhile, will extend a whole-health approach to Louisiana National Guard soldiers, their families and Louisiana first responders through AI-driven smartphone technology focused on nutrition, fitness, sleep, mental coping and resilience training. Aim High, another Stewart-led project, will help youth and potential military recruits, including participants in the Louisiana National Guard’s 20-week residential Youth Challenge Program, get “Army ready.”
“Lack of readiness is a clear and growing threat to our national security,” Stewart said. “Almost 80 percent of the civilian population would be medically disqualified from joining the military due to weight, body fat and fitness abilities, primarily, but also because of medications and struggles with mental health. That’s a huge problem since we’re also losing soldiers for the very same reasons, on top of burnout and injury.”
“We have the best military in the world, but that is not a reason to stop improving. Cutting-edge nutritional science and behavior technology-based programs that improve mental resilience, remedy the effects of post-traumatic stress and keep our troops healthy are necessary and pioneered at Pennington Biomedical Research Center. I am thankful this research begins right here at home.”
U.S. Representative Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge