She is certain that the 2 million plus Australians who go on a diet every year need to forget about low-carb, high-protein combinations, where the end game is weight loss.
Striking a blow against popular opinion, Dr Solon-Biet believes the best formula for healthy ageing is eating a low-protein, high-carbohydrate diet. This approach is groundbreaking because it shifts the goalposts from calorie counting to eating the right balance of ‘macronutrients’ – carbohydrates, protein and fat.
The high carb element does not mean gorging on processed cakes and cookies, however. It’s about eating a smaller proportion of protein and plenty of ‘good carbs’ – vegetables and wholegrains that suppress your appetite and promote a healthy gut environment because they are high in fibre.
Dr Solon-Biet’s solution to delay disease and ageing through diet addresses our number one health imperative. Ageing is accepted as the biggest risk factor for disease and death, and more than three quarters of elderly Australians have a chronic disease, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Globally, the World Health Organization estimates that chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes account for about 70 percent of global deaths.
"If our findings in mice can be translated to humans it would reduce the burden of disease more significantly than eradicating cancer", says Dr Solon-Biet.
Her evidence-based solution debunks the often flimsy basis for ‘wonder’ diets. “Around 70 percent of data in a popular diet book is not backed by science,” she says
The Charles Perkins Centre is already a leading hub for ageing research, thanks partly to Dr Solon-Biet’s work, and nutritional ‘geometry’, led by her own research supervisor and the centre’s Academic Director, Professor Stephen Simpson and Professor David Raubenheimer.
Dr Solon-Biet and Professor Simpson rely on the expertise of University mathematicians to crunch the numbers that support this geometric approach, and interrogate research from every possible angle. On any given day she collaborates with researchers across biochemistry, microbiology, public health, medicine, business and pharmacology.
Dr Solon-Biet’s landmark 2014 study in metabolic biology journal Cell Metabolism opened many doors and she has also greatly benefited from a University of Sydney SOAR fellowship – a fellowship that supports outstanding early and mid-career researchers.
Her manipulation of macronutrients presents an exciting opportunity to strike back against lifestyle diseases and a diet solution that is sound and sustainable for healthy ageing, for the long-term.