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Watch Anna Michalska describe nutraceuticals and functional foods, two terms often heard in association with superfoods.
[music] - Hello. My name is Anna Michalska, and today, I’m going to talk about the nutraceuticals. Consumer preferences and lifestyle influence the continuous change of food processing technologies, leading to the increased caloric intake and overconsumption of high-energy foods. This was connected with the increased portion size and a low intake of natural food products. This result in a significant increase and the prevalence of several disorders like inflammatory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, or Type 2 diabetes. As a consequence, more than 220 million people are estimated to be affected by the 2 type diabetes over the past 10 years. At the same time, several healthy spots have been recognized worldwide. The first one was connected with Mediterranean region, the second one with Okinawa Island.
These two spots have been characterized by a different diet which means that people consume, for example, polyphenolic compounds, more fish, or more legumes. As a consequence, their diet lead to the lower risk of the diseases. On the basic of this information, people start to think that diet can improve our health because we support our body with the natural compounds. In fact, a significant reduction of the health-related cost can be decreased. Into consideration, the food, besides nutritional function, can have additional value. In that way, functional food has been created. The term functional foods was introduced for the first time in Japan and refers to processed food containing ingredients that aid specific body function in addition to being nutritious.
Functional foods must remain food as they must achieve their effect in amounts normally consumed in a diet. The other term is nutraceuticals. This word is recently used quite often, but not everybody knows exactly what it is. A lot of people think that nutraceuticals are special pharmaceutical design products that have a special function in our body, but in fact, nutraceuticals are food or food ingredients that have a positive effect, defined physiological effect on our body. They do not easily fall into the legal categories of food or drug, and often, they are between the two.
The term nutraceutical is used to describe a medicinal or nutritional component that includes a fruit, plant, or naturally occurring material that can be purified or concentrated and that is used for the improvement of health by preventing or treating some diseases. Nutraceuticals, in contrast to pharmaceuticals, are not protected by the patents. The examples of nutraceuticals are echinacea, green tea, folic acid, cod liver oil, lutein, and folic acid. In conclusion, there is no answer how much or how often we should consume the nutraceutical products, however, it all depends on our age, weight, and gender.

Extracts, functional foods, nutraceuticals…

As we said in the previous video, these terms are often confused and used in relation to superfoods.

In this video, Dr. Michalska describes in more detail two of these terms: nutraceuticals and functional foods. Both classes of products represent an answer to the desire of improving our health by including natural compounds in our diet, such as omega-3 fatty acids or plant extracts.

However, there is not an agreement on how much nutraceuticals and functional foods we should ingest – if any. Surely it depends on our demographical characteristics, such as age and sex, but other aspects too, such as pregnancy or medical conditions.

However, it is important to note that while there is not a recommended intake for nutraceuticals or functional foods as a general category, there is a set of essential nutrients for which we are able to determine lower and upper intake limits. We will discuss in more detail essential nutrients in the third activity of this week, and next week we will approach the subjects of dietary recommendation and how to determine the micronutrient content of superfoods and their alternatives.

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Superfoods: Myths and Truths

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