ITO Thailand Hygiene Blog

Jan 31 2022

Functional Foods

            At present, consumers are more in need of foods that promote health, coupled with the aging society, resulting in more need for promotion of good health: reducing the risk or treatment of diseases that have just begun to prevent them from spreading further. This is where functional foods meet such needs, which will highlight the products of entrepreneurs to differentiate from other products in the market, with added values, allowing them to compete in the market. It is an interesting alternative for entrepreneurs

            Functional foods have a wide range of sources depending on the interests of consumers. For general consumers, they are often interested in foods that have functions for various bodily functions such as: making your body function better, reducing the risk of disease, or relieving symptoms of the disease.

            For the gastrointestinal tract, distinctive functional foods are dietary fibers, probiotics, and prebiotics.  Dietary fibers are carbohydrates that are indigestible by the body. They help with the gastrointestinal tract and excretion and can be divided into two groups: soluble and insoluble. The soluble group can absorb water in the structure and has characteristics of gel or soft mucus, such as pectin, gum, and some hemicellulose. It helps to disrupt and slow down the sugar entering the veins and reduces the absorption of cholesterol in food into the body.

            Insoluble fiber, such as cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin, increases fecal mass, improves excretion, and causes the movement of the gastrointestinal tract and intestine [1]. Probiotics are living microorganisms and are good microorganisms for the body: they can produce nutrients, vitamins, enzymes that aid digestion that the digestive juices in the body cannot digest, they reduce flatulence, balance the intestines, reduce the number of bad microorganisms in the intestines [2]. Probiotics may be in the form of supplements in tablets or drinking powders, or in foods that contain fermentation processes and are packaged without disinfecting microorganisms such as fermented milk, yogurt, kimchi, fermented beans, miso, etc.

            Prebiotics are short-chain carbohydrates that the human body cannot digest. They are part of the dietary fiber, but they are special: they can be digested with probiotics in the colon, so they are food for microorganisms, allowing good microorganisms to grow and a precursor to the synthesis of substances that are beneficial to the body. The criteria for classifying prebiotics are

1. Resistance to the digestion of acids and enzymes in the gastrointestinal tract of mammals.

2. They can be fermented by microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract well.                           

3. They encourage good microorganisms to grow and/or create beneficial substances [3]. Examples of prebiotics include galactooligosaccharides, fructooligosaccharides, and inulin.

            The cardiovascular system is another function that has attracted a lot of attention because it is one of the leading causes of death today. Foods with this function include fiber, phytosterol (a cholesterol-like substance found in plants), oleic acids, unsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and bioactive peptides [4]. These substances have different mechanisms of action, including reducing cholesterol in the blood, inhibiting bad cholesterol oxidation, reducing triglycerides, reducing blood pressure, promoting functions of cells lining blood vessel walls, and promoting platelet adherence, which helps to fill blood vessel tears [5].

            In addition to nourishment, there are also functional foods for specific needs, also known as tailor-made foods, such as low glycemic indexes for people with diabetes and obesity, improving the portion of carbohydrates to make enzymes in the body more difficult to digest. Therefore, it satiates for a long time and reduces blood sugar fluctuations [Read more at Alternative Carbohydrates]

            As for those who control the weight, in addition to being satiated for a long time, fiber or additional metabolic aids may be added. Food for patients with chronic kidney disease must have controlled protein and salt intake. The food must also be high in energy because patients often eat limited foods. The same goes for food for the elderly. In addition to adequate energy and nutrients, because their intake is also limited, it is also necessary to consider the texture that is not too hard or viscous. They must be able to chew and swallow without choking.  For athletes, they need high energy because they use a lot of energy and require protein to strengthen the muscles. So, a high-protein diet or new source of protein has been developed to meet the needs of this group of consumers. [Read more at Alternative Proteins]




2.Soccol, C. R., Vandenberghe, L. P. D. S., Spier, M. R., Medeiros, A. B. P., Yamaguishi, C. T., Lindner, J. D. D., … & Thomaz-Soccol, V. (2010). The potential of probiotics: a review. Food Technology and Biotechnology48(4), 413-434.

3.Al-Sheraji, S. H., Ismail, A., Manap, M. Y., Mustafa, S., Yusof, R. M., & Hassan, F. A. (2013). Prebiotics as functional foods: A review. Journal of functional foods5(4), 1542-1553.

4.Koutelidakis, A., & Dimou, C. (2016). The effects of functional food and bioactive compounds on biomarkers of cardiovascular diseases. Functional Foods Text Book, 1st ed.; Martirosyan, D., Ed, 89-117.

5.Asgary, S., Rastqar, A., & Keshvari, M. (2018). Functional food and cardiovascular disease prevention and treatment: a review. Journal of the American College of Nutrition37(5), 429-455.

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