Functional Nutrition: Good or Bad?
Truth about benefits and dangers of functional nutrition
Nowadays people are living crazy lives, therefore they just don’t have any time left to eat healthy. Hurrying up, they must skip breakfast, eat on the run buying hamburgers and other fast food. All that results in digestive issues, bad feelings and weight gain. For human body to get required substances, functional nutrition is here to help. But the question is whether it is so good for you or is it just another marketing trick?
What is Functional Nutrition?
Functional nutrition implies consumption of products which are enriched with valuable substances. They are rich in minerals, amino acids, vitamins, carbs and proteins. This food has a favorable impact on human body, boosts the immune system and ensures proper functioning of all the internal organs and systems. Main emphasis in such a nutritional system is on biological value of a food.
Functional nutrition originates from Japan. It was invented there in the middle of 20th century and then such a nutrition was actively incorporated in some other countries. Functional nutrition solves three main issues people must deal with today:
- Domination of low-quality food. Modern products contain a lot of colorants, preservatives, flavoring agents and other artificial additives. Labels indicate amount of proteins, fats and carbs, yet their origin remains unknown. Americans call such a food «junk-food», which means empty food. Consuming this food, modern urbanites suffer from «hidden hunger». They fill themselves with food while staying deprived in microelements, vitamins, bacteria and biologically active substances, which human body is in a need for in order to function properly.
- Wrong nutrition. Tough working schedule, traffic and active way of life results in a little time left for cooking healthy meals. Therefore, we must buy fast food which is sold in every corner. Many people eat fatty, spicy and fried food without thinking of its negative impact on their bodies. Thus, increasing amount of people becomes obese, depressed and tired.
- Onset of dangerous sicknesses. Consumption of harmful food damages cardiovascular system. Still young, people start to suffer from high blood pressure, angina and diabetes. They also have digestive issues. And the most dangerous sickness, which may appear, is a stomach and colon cancer.
These factors speeded up invention of functional nutrition. It gives an opportunity to balance menu. Eating right, you can improve your health and quality of life extending its span.
Hippocrates insisted that the meal should be a medicine and medicine must be food. Functional foods are chosen and created according to this principle. In 1908, the famous scientist I.I. Mechnikov has proven that fermented milk products contain all the required organisms. In 50s, Japan created first product enriched with lactic acid bacillus. This is the way concept of ”functional food” was established. In 70s, USSR has developed products containing milk bifidobacteria.
Now technology has leaped forward. Scientists have created methods of processing and enrichment of such the products that make them functional. First, a basis for product is being chosen from the following list:
- Sour milk products (yogurt, sour milk, quark).
- Meat, fish and seafood.
- Local organic vegetables and fruits.
- Grains (muesli, porridges made using water and flakes).
- Natural vegetable oils.
All the unnecessary substances are removed from a food using special purification technologies. Protein containing foods are cleaned from saturated fats and excess carbohydrates while starchy foods are cleaned from an excess amount of proteins and fats. Foods high in energy and rich in carbs are cleaned from all the fats and proteins. Thus, remaining material will enter the bloodstream spreading throughout the body and providing it with an immediate source of energy.
If necessary, functional foods are complemented with certain nutrients. Dairy products are enriched with lactulose, probiotics, bifidobacteria, calcium and vitamins. Certain ranges of functional products are designed for children. The stores are selling yogurt with lactulose, which protects the intestine and helps to normalize digestion. Milk is enriched with Vitamin D as it improves absorption of calcium.
Meat products are enriched with calcium, iron and polyunsaturated fats. If the product is intended for pregnant women, then it is enriched with folic acid, iodine, and B vitamins. Meat products for people with heart diseases are complemented with greater amounts of calcium and collagen.
Functional soups, porridges and dry vitamin shakes are created from vegetables and fruits. They are complemented with different microelements and herbal extracts. Orange juice is often enriched with calcium to further absorption of vitamin С it contains.
Nutritionists state that functional nutrition is a food of the future. Ballast-free and complemented with valuable substances, food becomes healthier and menu starts to be more balanced.
Japan currently produces over 160 types of functional foods. The assortment is very diverse, it includes bread and soups, which improve blood circulation as well as children’s and sports nutrition. This food can be compared to food designed for astronauts: it has a uniform consistency and is well absorbed by human body. This food consists of minerals and natural elements. Japanese people even created functional chocolate. This type of chocolate is enriched with substances that prevent heart attacks. In Asia, one can note functional beer sold in stores, it prevents cellular damage.
Benefits of Functional Nutrition
Functional nutrition becomes increasingly popular worldwide as it improves overall well-being and helps to stay fit. Natural and easily digested food does not overload intestinal tract and provides human body with all the necessary substances such as vitamins and amino acids, proteins and carbs as well as some microelements. It has a range of benefits such as follows:
- It serves as source of energy and good mood;
- It helps to prevent digestive issues;
- It ensures a thorough removal of toxic substances from human body;
- It strengthens immune system;
- It has a rejuvenating effect;
- It helps to normalize weight;
- It increases the life span.
Japanese live for 84 years in average while Russians live only for 70 years. Many scientists and nutritionists relate this fact to nutrition. The basis of Russian diet are potatoes and flour. Japanese kitchen has always been rich in seafood, fruits and vegetables, and now there’s been a boom in functional foods. It also contributes to the health of the nation.
Disadvantages of Functional Nutrition
Functional food contains many biologically active components. These substances are added with the purpose to make certain impact on body. Some products are enriched with iodine, the others are complemented with dietary fiber and complex carbohydrates. It is important to choose a cocktail, which is especially good for you only. Otherwise, you can harm your body or trigger some allergies.
Great amount of bioactive substances can result in oversaturation of human body. This risk increases when it comes to children, pregnant women, and people with immunodeficiency. They need to consult a doctor before use of such fortified foods.
Creating functional foods is a high-tech and expensive process. Some manufacturers try to save some costs and use products which are not environmentally friendly. They can also use chemical additives, which bring no benefit and cause health problems.