Building with Tel-Hai logo

faculty member

  • Dr. Faiga Magzal
  • Lecturer
  • Nutritional Sciences
  • Food Sciences - B.Sc.
  • +972(0)545702573
  • [email protected]
  • 1- Developing a personalized holistic approach for promoting mental health in the elderly population. This approach combines personalized dietary recommendations based on the overall information gathered from the individual (e.g., anthropometric measurements, dietary intake, medical history, quality of life) and their gut microbiome population.

    2- The mechanisms underlying the changes caused by personalized dietary recommendations.

  • My research activities aim at developing a personalized holistic approach to promoting mental health in the elderly population. This approach combines personalized dietary recommendations based on the general information gathered from the individual (e.g., anthropometric measurements, dietary intake, medical history, quality of life) and their gut microbiome population. My research topic is also the mechanisms underlying the changes caused by personalized nutritional recommendations.

    The gut microbiome consists of trillions of microorganisms and their genetic material in the intestinal tract. These microorganisms, mainly comprising bacteria, are involved in functions critical to health and wellbeing. They play a crucial role in food digesting. They are involved in many essential processes that extend beyond the gut, including body metabolism, body weight, immune regulation, brain functions, and mood. The gut-microbiome communicates with the brain through the gut-brain axis (GBA), which consists of bidirectional communication between the central and the enteric nervous system, linking emotional and cognitive centers of the brain with peripheral intestinal functions.

    The type and amount of macro and micronutrients present in the diet (e.g., dietary fibers, omega-3, phytonutrients) have been widely found to influence the composition of the gut microbiota in the host. One of the main products of bacterial metabolism produced by the fermentation of dietary fibers is short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), such as butyric acid, propionic acid, and acetic acid. SCFAs can stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, release mucosal serotonin, and influence memory and learning. In this context, diet manipulation of microbiota may influence behavior. The gut microbiota may alter nutrient availability and affect mucosal immune activation.

    My main projects and their initial results are summarized below:

    (1) The effects of personalized, diet-induced alterations in microbiota intervention on insomnia among older adults and to identify potential functional pathways (i.e., enhanced cognitive, motor, and mental functioning) underlying the relationship between nutrition and sleep (an RCT, in collaboration with The University of Haifa). Preliminary results show several associations between sleep continuity measures and specific gut microbiota. Furthermore, a dietary intervention was associated with improved sleep measures, gut microbiota abundances, and taxa changes.

    (2) The associations between gut microbiota and geriatric depression, and the potential of a nutrition-induced microbiome personalized diet, aimed to improve quality of life and wellbeing in older adults (an RCT, in collaboration with the Shamir Research Institute). The results show that, after six months of a microbiome personalized diet, a significant reduction in depression symptoms was observed (expressed by a decrease in the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS)). Moreover, older adults in the intervention group significantly increased their quality of life. According to the assessment tool developed by the World Health Organization (WHOQOL), older adults improved physical and mental health and increased social relationships after six months of intervention.

    (3) Isolation and characterization of short-chain fatty acids, and their association to gut microbiota abundances, nutritional intake, and quality of life among elderly with insomnia. The results show that short sleep duration in insomnia (the most biologically severe disorder phenotype) is associated with increased fecal SCFA concentrations. These results are consistent with the idea that severe insomnia in older adults is accompanied by a chronic inflammation state, which may affect epithelial cells in the gut and decrease SCFA uptake. Since SCFAs are essential to gut cell function and brain signaling via neurotransmitters such as serotonin, reducing SCFA absorption by the gut cells is expected to affect sleep duration and continuity negatively. Furthermore, we showed that higher physical activity (expressed by a higher step count) was associated with less fecal SCFAs and specific microbiota and metabolite profiles in older adults with insomnia. Findings contribute to understanding pathways along the gut-brain axis and may lead to the use of SCFAs as biomarkers of insomnia. Results on topics (1) and (3) were partially presented in international conferences, and several scientific papers are being prepared for publication.

    In addition, I am involved in developing an App based on the gut microbiome results and the scientific literature, which will give food suggestions to improve sleep and mood. (5) The development of a food-based supplement to help manage insomnia and depression symptoms.

    My plans for future research are to (a) Explore the role of specific dietary patterns/food ingredients in neurobiological disorders (e.g., depression, anxiety) by performing clinical trials. (b) Study the effect of specific dietary patterns/food ingredients on the microorganisms present in the gut (e.g., their abundances, their metabolite concentrations). (c) The possible mechanisms that could explain the results (e.g., associations between blood markers, urinary and fecal metabolites with neurobiological disorder measurements).

     

  • Years

    Name of Course

    Type of Course

     

    Level

     

    Number of Students

    2009-2016

    Food Analysis – laboratory (chemistry)

    Laboratory

    BSc

    40

    2009-present

    Food Product Development

    Workshop

    BSc

    40

    2017-2018

    Global Health

    Workshop

    BSc

    20

    2017-2018

    Nutrition in the Community (public health)

    Workshop

    BSc

    15

    2017-present

    Principles of food technology

    Lecture

    BSc

    40

    2017-present

    Principles of Food Preparation

    Lecture

    BSc

    80-100

    2019-present

    The interrelationship between food technology, microbiota, and health

    Lecture

    BSc

    20-30

    2021-2022

    Clinical Nutrition

    Lecture

    BSc

    130

  • Source

    Purpose of Award or Achievement

    Other Awardees

    Name of Award

    Years

    Council for Higher Education

    Doctoral funding

    none

    Scholarship of Excellence for doctoral students of the Arab society and minorities

    2013-2106

  •  

    1. Yehuda, I.; Madar, Z.; Leikin-Frenkel, A.; Szuchman-Sapir, A.; Magzal, F.; Markman, G.; Tamir, S. Glabridin, an isoflavan from licorice root, upregulates paraoxonase 2 expression under hyperglycemia and protects it from oxidation. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research 2016, 60, 287–299, doi:10.1002/mnfr.201500441. (I.F. 4.7, Q1)
    2. Magzal, F.; Sela, S.; Szuchman-Sapir, A.; Tamir, S.; Michelis, R.; Kristal, B. In-vivo oxidized albumin- a pro-inflammatory agent in hypoalbuminemia. PLoS ONE 2017, 12, e0177799, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0177799. (I.F. 2.8, Q1)
    3. Tzemah Shahar R, Koren O, Matarasso S, Shochat T, Magzal F, Agmon M. Attributes of Physical Activity and Gut Microbiome in Adults: A Systematic Review. International Journal of Sports Medicine 2020, doi:10.1055/a-1157-9257. (I.F. 2.6, Q1)
    4. Goldberg MR, Mor H, Magid Neriya D, Magzal F, Muller E, Appel MY, Nachshon L, Borenstein E, Tamir S, Louzoun Y, Youngster I, Elizur A, Koren O. Allergic microbial signature in IgE-mediated food allergies. Genome Medicine. 2020 Oct 27;12(1):92. doi: 10.1186/s13073-020-00789-4. (I.F. 10.7, Q1)
    5. Pinto Y, Frishman S, Turjeman S, Eshel A, Nuriel-ohayon M, Walters W, Parsonnet J, Ley C, Johnson EL, Schweitzer R, Khatib S, Magzal F, Tamir S, Gavish KT, Rautava S, Salminen S, Isolauri E, Yariv O, Peled Y, Poran E, Pardo J, Chen R , Hod M, Ley RE Schwart B, Hadar E, Louzoun Y, Koren O. First trimester gut microbiome induces Inflammation-dependent gestational diabetes phenotype in mice. BMJ (medRxiv) 2021;1–26. doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.09.17.21262268.
    6. Magzal F, Even C, Haimov I, Agmon M, Asraf K, Shochat T, et al. Associations between fecal short-chain fatty acids and sleep continuity in older adults with insomnia symptoms. Sci Reports 2021,11,4052 https://org/10.1038/s41598-021-83389-5 (I.F. 4.4, Q1)
    7. Magzal F, Shochat T, Haimov I, Tamir S, Asraf K, Tucher-Arieli M, Even C, Agmon M. Increased physical activity correlates with gut microbiota composition and reduces short-chain fatty acid concentrations in older adults with insomnia. Sci Reports 2022. (I.F. 4.4, Q1)
  • Date

    Name of Conference

    Place of Conference

    Subject of Lecture/Discussion

    Role

    06/2019

    IPA World Congress + Probiota Americas

    Vancouver, Canada

    Propionate, a main Short Chain Fatty Acid (SCFA) produced by specific gut microbiota, is associated with insomnia in elderly

    Poster

    Magzal F, Even C, Haimov I, Agmon M, Shochat T, Tamir S

     

    02/2019

    MIGAL Annual Congress

    Kiryat Shmona

    Sleep quality is associated to SCFAs levels and changes in gut microbiota composition

    Oral:

    Magzal F, Even C, Haimov I, Agmon M, Shochat T, Tamir S

    12/2014

    The 30th Annual Meeting of the Israeli Society for Oxygen and Free Radicals Research ISOFRR

    Haifa

    Circulating Oxidized Albumin Is a Mediator of Endothelial Dysfunction in Uremia

    Oral:

    F, Szuchman-Sapir A, Tamir S, Sela S, Michelis R, Kristal B

    09/2014

    Israel Diabetic Association and Israel Medical Association – Society for Research, Prevention and Treatment of Atherosclerosis

    Ramat Gan

    Circulating Oxidized Albumin Is a Mediator of Endothelial Dysfunction in Uremia

    Poster:

    Magzal F, Szuchman-Sapir A, Tamir S, Sela S, Michelis R, Kristal B

    11/2013

    International ASN Conference: Kidney Week

    Atlanta, GA USA

    Circulating Oxidized Albumin Is a Mediator of Endothelial Dysfunction in Uremia

    Oral: 

    Magzal F, Szuchman-Sapir A, Tamir S, Sela S, Michelis R, Kristal B