The concept of functional food does not have a very uniform definition. Broadly speaking, all foods are functional, even providing essential proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, etc., but these are not how we use the term today.
Term Creation: Functional Food
The term, first used in Japan in the 1980s, “refers to processed foods that contain ingredients that contribute to specific bodily functions and nutrients.” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has scrutinized manufacturers’ opinions on the nutritional content of functional foods and their Health effects are regulated. Unlike Japan, the US government does not provide a definition of functional food.
Therefore, what we currently call functional foods usually refers to processed foods with added or reduced ingredients, including concentrated, enhanced and other fortified foods.
At present, with the development of the food industry, many modern food production has used bioengineering technologies such as plant factories, animal and plant stem cells, and microbial fermentation. As a result, the definition of functional food in the nutrition community has become broader: “Whole foods and concentrated, fortified, or fortified foods, when eaten regularly at effective levels as part of a diverse diet according to important evidence standards, have potentially beneficial effects.”
Prevents nutrient deficiencies
Functional foods are often high in nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and fiber. Filling your diet with a variety of functional foods, both traditional and fortified, can help ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need and prevent nutrient deficiencies.
In fact, the global prevalence of nutritional deficiencies has declined significantly since the introduction of fortified foods. For example, after the introduction of iron-fortified wheat flour in Jordan, the rate of iron-deficiency anaemia in children was almost halved.
Functional foods provide important nutrients that can help prevent disease.
Many are especially rich in antioxidants. These molecules help neutralize harmful compounds called free radicals, which help prevent cell damage and certain chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Some functional foods are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, a healthy type of fat that reduces inflammation, boosts brain function and promotes heart health.
Rich in other types of fiber, it can promote better blood sugar control and protect against diseases such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and stroke. Fiber also helps prevent digestive disorders, including shunt inflammation, stomach ulcers, bleeding, and acid reflux.
Promoting appropriate growth and development
Certain nutrients are essential for normal growth and development in infants and children.
Enjoying a variety of nutrient-dense functional foods as part of a healthy diet can help ensure nutritional needs are met. In addition, it is beneficial to include foods that are fortified with specific nutrients that are essential for growth and development.
For example, cereals, grains, and flour often contain B vitamins, such as folic acid, which are essential for fetal health. Low levels of folic acid increase the risk of neural tube defects, which can affect the brain, spinal cord, or spine. It is estimated that increasing the consumption of folic acid can reduce the prevalence of neural tube defects by 50%-70%.
Other nutrients commonly found in functional foods also play a key role in growth and development, including omega-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, calcium and vitamin B12.
A functional food is a food that claims to have additional functions (usually related to health promotion or disease prevention) by adding new ingredients or more of existing ingredients.
The term can also apply to traits intentionally bred into existing edible plants, such as purple or golden potatoes with reduced anthocyanin or carotenoid content, respectively.
Functional foods can be “designed to have physiological benefits and/or reduced risk of chronic disease beyond basic nutritional functions, may resemble conventional foods in appearance, and be consumed as part of a regular diet”.
Functional Foods and Health Issues
In the history of human civilization, there has never been such a time that food supply can be divided into seasons, time, and regions. The variety of food supplies has far exceeded the needs of filling the stomach (of course, there are still some backward countries in the state of food shortage). Although human beings have always longed for plenty of food and clothing, but quickly bid farewell to the era of hunger (Europe has spent a generation to solve the problem of food and clothing since World War II and China since the reform and opening up), the human body metabolism cannot adapt to the energy and energy that exceeds the body’s needs. Therefore, health problems directly related to food consumption, including obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and hyperglycemia, have appeared.
From the perspective of food production and preservation, there are no technical problems in reducing sugar, salt, and fat. The biggest technical obstacle comes from the loss of the eating pleasure of such foods, making the food an energy block and a nutritional package. Therefore, how to maintain the eating pleasure of low-sugar, low-salt, and low-fat foods through innovative design of food ingredients and structures is a major topic of food science research for a long time in the future. But the long-term effects of these ingredients remain to be seen.
Whether the fortified ingredients in functional foods are necessarily beneficial to health is still a lot of debate. If the effect is unclear, let’s just say that psychoactive ingredients such as alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and taurine are generally considered to be harmful to the human body, but human health is not only in terms of the physical body, but also psychological factors.
It is inaccurate to talk about the benefits and disadvantages without the dosage. The content of active ingredients in functional foods is usually much lower than that of drugs, so even if it is beneficial or harmful, the effect is relatively slight when taken for a short time, and the obvious effect needs to be accumulated after long-term consumption. show. For example, the caffeine in coffee and cola is also addictive when consumed in large quantities for a long time. Therefore, it is necessary to choose ingredients that are less physiologically dependent.
Functional Foods vs Nutraceuticals (Dietary Supplements)
Usually we say that functional food still needs to meet people’s food requirements, such as the intake of protein, fat, sugar and carbohydrates, etc., which can be eaten as food or in place of food.
There is no direct corresponding classification of health products in the United States. It can be compared with the dietary supplements of the FDA in the United States, and the nutritional functional ingredients are stripped from the carrier, which is more like a drug in form. The dosage forms classified as dietary supplements in the past are usually more like medicines: tablets, capsules, granules, drops, sprays, etc. These preparations have deviated from the essential characteristics of food and cannot provide consumers with any eating pleasure. At present, the effect of high concentration and short-term stimulation on the body is still a controversial issue.
Later, in order to attract children to take it, many dietary supplements were added in the form of gum, and many granules were added with other food nutrients, or directly made into bottled beverage supplements. This creates a situation of cross-coverage of functional foods and dietary supplements.
Foods of the future are all functional
In the context of the new era, food no longer only has the function of filling the stomach. As an edible substance, food must have three basic functions of providing energy, nutrition and pleasure to the body. Moreover, with the continuous accumulation of evidence and deepening understanding of the causal relationship among nutrients, food, and diseases, it has been found that the impact of food on the human body far exceeds that of any environmental factor.
The three basic functions of food all need to be realized in the physiological environment of the human body. How to achieve the most reasonable energy release, the most effective nutritional effect, and the optimal pleasure by improving the composition and structural design of the food is contemporary food. A major challenge for the industry, to solve this challenge, scientists must combine food materials with human physiology, observe the structural destruction and degradation of food structures and components in the oral, gastrointestinal and other stages of digestion, and explain Its physical, chemical, physiological, colloidal, and psychological principles.
The transition from food material research to “food + human body” research is the result of consumers’ re-understanding of the basic functions of food. It can be predicted with great confidence that the future food science research will have a great trend of “food material science + life science”. “Research. This change will inevitably bring about changes in research methods, research techniques, research methods, and cooperation methods.
Post time: May-13-2022