Functional nutrition (FP) – the so-called new chapter of our life – is made up of natural products that have the ability to improve the functioning of the organs and systems of our body. One condition – they need to be every day.
Functional products are considered (FP), which acquire new properties due to their enrichment with vitamins, minerals, pro- and prebiotics, and other valuable food substances. Another option is that some beneficial substances can be specifically excluded from the composition, such as, for example, come with fats and cholesterol. AF not only improves the functioning of our body, but also prevents the emergence of diseases.
Such products are often called enriched, and the substances that complement their composition are biologically active additives (BAA).
Serious changes in our diet have been required for a long time. The environmental problems of the 20th century, the “fascination” with pesticides, antibiotics and hormones in agriculture and animal husbandry, preservatives, nitrates in food production — all this led to a change in the properties of food.
She has ceased to meet our needs. The result was not long in coming: allergic diseases, problems of the gastrointestinal tract (including dysbiosis), metabolic disorders (obesity), difficulties with the immune, cardiovascular system quickly became a serious problem for ordinary people and doctors. Scientists had to think about how to improve the quality of food, and at the same time with its help to improve a person and reduce his need for “chemical” drugs.
The development of science came to the rescue: by that time, experts already knew a lot about the beneficial properties of the bacteria in our intestines. Moreover, they managed to bring out such varieties of microbes that could be used in production without losing their properties.
Since 1989, the direction of functional nutrition has been developed in Japan, and then throughout the world.
The beneficial properties of OP are explained by their composition. They contain more nutrients than regular foods. Many of these new products were created to replace conventional products (for example, enriched bread instead of the usual one), but there are also such FPs whose “shelf life” is limited.
They relieve us of the problem, or help to survive a certain state, a developmental stage – so, the medical mixtures for babies are replaced with normal food over time, products for expectant and young mothers lose their relevance, and tonic drinks leave the daily routine with the change of season.
- It will fill the shortage of very important substances for our body: essential amino acids (i.e. protein), fats and fatty acids, carbohydrates and sugars, vitamins and vitamin-like substances, macro- and microelements, dietary fiber, organic acids, bioflavonoids, essential oils, and so Further. You and I should get this entire list from food every day!
- FP will make our food moderately high in calories, which means it will relieve weight problems and help regulate appetite.
- These products will strengthen our immunity and increase resistance in the face of many troubles, from infections to environmental problems.
- They will bind and bring out harmful substances that may accumulate in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Products from the OP category will support the composition of the intestinal microflora and thereby help it work well.
Functional nutrition includes many of the products familiar to us:
- breast milk substitutes that are prescribed to babies with intolerance to some food components;
- liquid concentrates for the preparation of beverages with tonic and special action;
- dry fortified “teas” based on fruits, berries and vegetable juices, which also contain medicinal plant extracts or medicinal substances in small doses;
- cereals, cereals, and other products that contain vitamins, microelements, dietary fiber, or, conversely, there are no food components in case of painful intolerance;
- ferments and prepared dairy products with pre- or probiotics.
Over the past 30–40 years, many countries have developed many products that contain live bacteria from among the representatives of the normal microflora of our intestines. Such supplements are called probiotics.
Recently, prebiotics are included in the OP of this category – growth stimulating substances of beneficial bacteria, but not containing microorganisms themselves (for example, lactulose, fructooligosaccharides).
They are designed to protect or save us from the problems caused by the disturbance of the composition of normal microflora, dysbacteriosis. Pro- and prebiotic products prevent the development of many diseases, including allergies and metabolic disorders.
Examples: fermented milk products containing bifidobacteria or lactobacilli (Neo, Wimm-Bill-Dann; Gefilus, Valio; Activia, Actimel, Danone; Bifidok, Biolact, Bifilife).
The group of FP- “semi-finished products”, for example, the starter (Evita, Narine), stands apart. With their help, everyone can prepare a product with functional properties from ordinary milk and even infant formula.
The basis for the manufacture of FP can serve not only milk, but also other beverages, primarily of plant origin. To fruit and vegetable juices add bifidobacteria, lactobacilli, lactic acid streptococci, and combinations thereof.
From the juices we will get all the “wealth” of the plant world: carbohydrates, vitamins, fiber, mineral and pectin substances, natural antioxidants and other biologically active compounds. Add to this the benefits that probiotics carry us, and we will get a vivid example of AF in action!
Another common non-dairy base is soy.
This group of products is still being supplied to our market by Western manufacturers (Gefilus, Valio juices; Alpo Soya soy drinks, Sojasum).
Any adapted milk formula is essentially FP, because its composition should be very diverse. Modern products are as close as possible to breast milk in composition and ratio of proteins, fats, carbohydrates. Breastmilk substitutes are also fortified with vitamins: for example, each mixture contains about 1/4 of the daily dose of vitamin D.
There is a large group of mixtures for therapeutic nutrition. They are prescribed, for example, allergies and those who have a lack of the enzyme lactose (lactase deficiency).
The composition of these products is introduced, mainly vitamins B1, B2 and PP, and even iron. By the way, plant extracts most often play the role of a supplement – this is how several problems can be solved at once.
Enriching the products with plant pigment dye extracts, manufacturers vitaminize their products and give it an appetizing look.
Examples: Pasta made from durum wheat, bran bread or whole grain bread.
Now FP make up only 3% of the number of all known foods. But, judging by the forecasts of the world’s leading experts in the field of nutrition and medicine, over the next 15–20 years, their share will reach 30%.
At the same time, they will force out the sale of a third, or even half of the traditional medicines. And we can assume that functional nutrition will help to increase the life expectancy.
An example of such a combination is the functional products of the Finnish company Valio. With their help, you can improve digestion and strengthen the immune system, normalize high blood pressure and get rid of excess cholesterol.
The lactic acid bacteria Lactobacillus GG (LGG) is contained in the Gefilus enriched product series. The beneficial properties of these microorganisms are studied very well. They differ from other milk sticks in their exceptional “vitality”.
Many lactobacilli (for example, those used in ordinary kefir) die in the acidic environment of the stomach, and not having time to get to the intestine. The LGG successfully passes the danger zone, reaches the “destination” and is fixed on its walls.
From there, they do their useful work: they protect the gastrointestinal tract, strengthen the body’s defense mechanisms, help the metabolism, reduce the risk of infections.
Studies show that thanks to these miracle bacteria in children and adults, stomach upsets, colds, allergies and even caries are less common. It is interesting that technologists have learned to enrich any products with the LGG bacteria, and yoghurts, yogurt, fruit drinks, jelly, cheese have already appeared in the Gefilus series.
Another series of functional products from Valio – Evolus sour milk drinks – helps people with high blood pressure. These drinks contain active peptides – compounds of amino acids. They do not allow the production of protein, which constricts blood vessels and increases pressure.
In addition to useful peptides, minerals – potassium, magnesium, calcium – are included in Evolus drinks. They improve the functioning of the heart and increase the elasticity of blood vessels.
The “cores” and all those who want to keep their vessels healthy, are special products that reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood. These are Benecol soft oils based on vegetable fats.
They contain stanol ether – a natural component that prevents cholesterol from being absorbed into the blood. It is found in fruits and vegetables, but there is very little of it, and in Benecol oils, the amount is precisely calculated by specialists.