University of Missouri
In recent years, neutraceuticals and functional foods have become part of our vocabulary and, increasingly, part of our menu. Derivatives of cranberries, tomatoes, soybeans and oats have been connected to specific health benefits, from prevention of particular cancers to reduction of blood cholesterol. Generic food products have been supplemented with healthful ingredients (e.g., orange juice fortified with calcium and vitamins). New branded food products with explicit health claims have also been introduced in the market, including yogurt and fermented drinks with probiotic bacteria that improve digestion, and margarines that lower blood cholesterol. Such market developments follow an explosion in scientific and technical advances that, among other things, have began to clarify the link between nutrition and healthful living. Biotechnology is playing a key role in these developments. For one, biotechnology research is helping clarify the function of genes and their contribution to health and disease. For another, it is elucidating the role of food nutrients on metabolic functions and therefore on disease and health. Biotechnology is also providing the tools for customizing the nutritional/antinutritional factor content in foods, thereby enhancing their positive effects on the physiological functions of the human body. In this issue, Burn and Kishore explain in some detail these developments and provide specific examples of research on “food as medicine.” Read more….