A DAY IN THE LIFE OF …
September 21, 2023
Introducing our new series
We invite you to step into the shoes of Jeremy Spencer, Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry and Medicine at the University of Reading. Jeremy is a regular contributor at Brain Health Network, and provides us with the latest research and insights on the impact that nutrition has on our brain health and cognitive decline.
In a world where information about diet and nutrition is abundant but often conflicting, it takes a dedicated expert to navigate the complex landscape of what we eat and how it can impact our lives.
We sat down with Professor Jeremy Spencer who offered us a glimpse into his daily routine, which has been influenced by his position at the forefront of nutritional science.
6:45: I wake up at the same time each morning and as soon as I do, I take a shower and then head to the kitchen to make breakfast. This usually consists of porridge oats mixed with raspberry yoghurt and a coffee. I always opt for a mild roast because it contains higher levels of polyphenols which benefit the brain. I then have a second coffee 20 mins later before leaving for work.
8.00: I arrive on campus at the University of Reading and make my way to the department of Food and Nutritional Sciences. I like to keep my mind active from the get go, and on my walk I usually go through all the things I need to do that day.
8:30: Around 8.30am I arrive at my office and prepare for my first meeting. These meetings can vary, but at the moment they consist of time spent with the clinical trial unit research team. Here, we discuss whether volunteers are suitable for the trial we’re currently running which is based on diet and cognitive function.
9:00: From 9am onwards I’m in departmental staff meetings with student representatives from each year. We discuss how things are going and if there is anything pressing that needs to be addressed. As programme director for the MSc in Nutrition and Food Science, I usually have a few things to action before the next meeting. When this finishes, I prepare for my lecture, looking over the notes and slides I have prepared.
11:00 – 13:00: This is one of my favourite lectures to teach. It’s with my first year undergraduate students (BSc) on the Cardiovascular system, and we go through how diet can be used as a preventative strategy for slowing heart disease. Lectures usually consist of a recorded screencast that students watch in advance (hopefully!), and then together we go through all the key learning materials. At the end we have a short quiz and Q&A. As with all studying, there is normally homework – I’ll give my students an interesting scientific paper to read before the next lecture.
13:00: I always have lunch and it’s usually something small like fruit or perhaps leftovers from last night’s meal alongside another coffee. If I am not lecturing at 14:00, I’ll usually do a 10km run (three times a week) with some resistance exercise in the gym.
15:00: My afternoon starts by meeting members of my research group to discuss the work/experiments undertaken over the last week. Typically I’ll meet with two of them each day throughout the week.
16:00 – 18:00: Between 4-6pm, I have a practical class with my master’s students (MSc) on glycaemic index. In these classes, students are split into groups of three, and they take fasting blood samples by finger prick to measure and record glucose levels in circulation. Students then consume either Lucozade, a banana or porridge oats following which blood glucose levels are measured every 20 minutes for the next two hours. I’ll then help them with the calculations at the end of the two hours to assess the impact of certain foods on blood glucose levels. Some of the results can be quite surprising!
19:00: I’m normally home by 7pm and eat a healthy home cooked meal, consisting of vegetables, pulses, meat or fish. A little later on, I’ll have some fruit, and then I’ll settle in for a relaxing evening.
For more information on Nutrition and the importance it has on our brain health, please visit www.brain.health.
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