Functional foods: the fashion of the moment
“Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food”
Although the important link between health and nutrition was already understood in ancient times, it was in the 1980s in Japan that the concept of functional foods originated. In fact, the Japanese health authorities recognized the need to improve the quality of life in parallel with the increase in life expectancy of an increasing number of elderly people in order to control health costs.
A food is called functional when, in addition to providing the appropriate nutritional effects, it is scientifically proven that it positively affects one or more physiological functions. As a result, it has positive effects on the maintenance of health and/or disease prevention.
There are many foods that per se already contain the functional component, such as lycopene-rich tomato which is an antioxidant and natural. In other cases, it can be added or enhanced, such as yogurt with phytosterols to lower cholesterol. The methods of action can be different: antioxidants, antitumor, detoxifying, antiviral, anti-inflammatory etc.
Although more and more pushes are being made towards the consumption of these foods it is important to reiterate one concept: the diet must be rich in a varied amount of fruits and vegetables, and not only artificial functional foods. Without forgetting another healthy daily habit: physical activity.