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Military Strategies for Sustainment of Nutrition and Immune Function in the Field (1999)

Chapter:I Committee Summary, Responses to Questions, Conclusions, and Recommendations

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Suggested Citation:"I Committee Summary, Responses to Questions, Conclusions, and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine. 1999. Military Strategies for Sustainment of Nutrition and Immune Function in the Field. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6450.
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I
COMMITTEE SUMMARY, RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Part I outlines the task presented to the Committee on Military Nutrition Research (CMNR) by scientists at the Military Nutrition and Biochemical Division, U.S. Army Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM). This task was to provide information on the impact of nutritional status on immune function, assess the current state of knowledge on how military stresses (including food deprivation) unfavorably influence immune status, and evaluate ongoing research efforts of USARIEM scientists to study immune status in Special Forces troops. As part of the charge to CMNR the Army posed the following five questions:

  1. What are the significant military hazards or operational settings most likely to compromise immune function in soldiers?
  2. What methods for assessment of immune function are most appropriate in military nutrition laboratory research, and what methods are most appropriate in field research?
Suggested Citation:"I Committee Summary, Responses to Questions, Conclusions, and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine. 1999. Military Strategies for Sustainment of Nutrition and Immune Function in the Field. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6450.
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  1. Interventions to sustain immune function can alter the actions, nutritional costs, and potential changes in levels of proinflammatory cytokines. The proinflammatory cytokines have been proposed to decrease lean body mass, mediate thermoregulatory mechanisms, and increase resistance to infectious disease by reducing metabolic activity in a way that is similar to the reduction seen in malnutrition and other catabolic conditions. What are the benefits and risks to soldiers of such interventions?
  2. What are the important safety and regulatory considerations in the testing and use of nutrients or dietary supplements to sustain immune function under field conditions?
  3. Are there areas of investigation for the military nutrition research program that are likely to be fruitful in the sustainment of immune function in stressful conditions? Specifically, is there likely to be enough value added to justify adding to operational rations or including an additional component?
  4. In Chapter 1, the committee presents an overview of the project using relevant background materials and the proceedings of the workshop held on May 20–21, 1996. The committee then reviews the Army's Ranger studies as well as other Army Operational Training Program studies which have evaluated the effects of multiple physical, psychological, and nutritional stressors on immune system function, and provides a summary of the topics presented at the workshop.

    The detailed answers to the five questions posed by the Army are in Chapter 2, and the committee's conclusions and recommendation, including recommendations for future research are in Chapter 3.

Suggested Citation:"I Committee Summary, Responses to Questions, Conclusions, and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine. 1999. Military Strategies for Sustainment of Nutrition and Immune Function in the Field. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6450.
×
Page17
Suggested Citation:"I Committee Summary, Responses to Questions, Conclusions, and Recommendations." Institute of Medicine. 1999. Military Strategies for Sustainment of Nutrition and Immune Function in the Field. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6450.
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Every aspect of immune function and host defense is dependent upon a proper supply and balance of nutrients. Severe malnutrition can cause significant alteration in immune response, but even subclinical deficits may be associated with an impaired immune response, and an increased risk of infection. Infectious diseases have accounted for more off-duty days during major wars than combat wounds or nonbattle injuries. Combined stressors may reduce the normal ability of soldiers to resist pathogens, increase their susceptibility to biological warfare agents, and reduce the effectiveness of vaccines intended to protect them. There is also a concern with the inappropriate use of dietary supplements.

This book, one of a series, examines the impact of various types of stressors and the role of specific dietary nutrients in maintaining immune function of military personnel in the field. It reviews the impact of compromised nutrition status on immune function; the interaction of health, exercise, and stress (both physical and psychological) in immune function; and the role of nutritional supplements and newer biotechnology methods reported to enhance immune function.

The first part of the book contains the committee's workshop summary and evaluation of ongoing research by Army scientists on immune status in special forces troops, responses to the Army's questions, conclusions, and recommendations. The rest of the book contains papers contributed by workshop speakers, grouped under such broad topics as an introduction to what is known about immune function, the assessment of immune function, the effect of nutrition, and the relation between the many and varied stresses encountered by military personnel and their effect on health.

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