Over time, we have less and less opportunities to monitor our health and this does not improve it at all. We do not have time for sports and regimen, let alone time for illness. It is in such cases that functional nutrition comes to the rescue.
The concept of “functional food” implies in its composition the presence of valuable and rare elements that have a positive effect on the body’s immunity, prevention of diseases and strengthening the general physical and emotional background. The main emphasis in this system is placed not so much on the composition and nutritional value of products, but on their biological value for our body.
The real problem is that the current food products in our diet are not rich in useful nutrients: the mass of substitutes, dyes and other economic and technological additives make up a significant part of the products. The volumes of their consumption are growing steadily.
The issue of “hidden hunger” for important and biologically active components has become topical. The amount of proteins, carbohydrates and fats can be read on the packages, but their origin and quality is not even mentioned. Americans came up with their name “junk-food” for such empty calorie foods (empty food). As a result, we consume the required amount of calories, but we do not get even a tiny fraction of microelements and beneficial bacteria necessary for the full functioning of the body.
In fact, even in ancient times, Hippocrates said that food should be medicine, and medicine should be food. This principle is followed by adherents of functional nutrition. History keeps in itself the wisdom of our people in this matter: products from pure white flour could be eaten only on the days of great holidays. On the other days, bread was baked only from coarse flour, not purified from other biologically active elements of wheat grain. Eating pure flour products on the days of fasting was generally considered a sin.
The doctors of that time knew no less a lot than ours -. Modern medicine and dietetics are getting closer and closer to forgotten and lost knowledge. We can say that attention to these issues in scientific circles began in Russia back in 1908. It was then that the Russian scientist I.I. Mechnikov was the first to investigate and confirm the existence and usefulness for human health of special microorganisms contained in dairy products.
Later in Japan, in the 50s, the first fermented milk food product containing lactobacilli was created. Returning to the topic, it is worth noting that the very concept of “functional nutrition” belongs to the Japanese. Later, in the 70s in the USSR, preparations were developed containing useful milk bifidobacteria, the main function of which was to fight acute intestinal infections in children. Only in the nineties in our country, as well as in the rest of the world, functional nutrition came to the attention of the state health care system: special literature appeared, organizations were created that study and certify functional nutrition.
The reason was the idea of not only drug intervention, but also saturation of the body with nutrition, which would carry a therapeutic function. The following product groups have been identified:
- powdered milk for pregnant and lactating women,
- separate labeling of milk for infants,
- labeling for elderly people who find it difficult to chew food,
- products for people with problematic health (allergy sufferers, diabetics, diseases),
- labeling on health-promoting products.
There are now over 160 different functional foods in Japan. These are soups, dairy and sour milk products, baby food, various baked goods, drinks, cocktail powders and sports nutrition. The composition of these products contains ballast substances, amino acids, proteins, polyunsaturated acids, antioxidants, peptides, and many other essential elements, the presence of which in the recent past was not welcomed.
To understand this quality of products, the RDA index was introduced in Europe, which determines the minimum amount of these substances, the content of a smaller amount in the food consumed threatens serious diseases.
Benefits of functional nutrition
Many products of functional nutrition normalize blood pressure, promote the elimination of toxins from the body, allow these processes to take place more efficiently and rejuvenate our body. It should be noted that more than half of the food products in Japan are functional foods.
Do not forget that, unlike our potato-flour diet, their cuisine is rich in a variety of vegetables and fruits. The fact that life expectancy in Japan takes precedence in the world and is more than 84 years can be considered convincing, while in Russia life expectancy has exceeded 70 years on average. And this is taking into account the environmental disasters taking place in Japan.
A weighty argument will be the fact that in recent years, the average life expectancy of the Japanese has increased by more than 20 years. Common and used by them functional nutrition helps to solve problems with excess weight, increase immunity, improve the functioning of the digestive system and even contributes to the fight against malignant tumors. Undoubtedly, the Japanese study deeply about health issues and use this information correctly.
Disadvantages of functional nutrition
First of all, it is important to note that functional food products are saturated with a high content of biologically active components, that is, during their production, the properties of the products change, with the aim of their predictable impact on various body functions.
Such foods saturate,, dietary fiber, vitamins with beneficial bacteria, raise the relative content of protein, unsaturated fats, complex carbohydrates, and so on. However, any cocktail of the necessary elements is not suitable for the body, all of them must be in natural organic compounds. At the present time, food products are increasingly full of phrases about the content of these elements, about the latest technologies that allow you not to lose important elements in the composition of food.
On the other side of the problem is the issue of oversaturation with the necessary elements of our nutrition. This problem is especially acute in the issue of baby food, nutrition of people with immunodeficiency, or pregnant women. Artificial substitutes for biologically active substances or mixtures do not bring the required results. Chemical additives enrich manufacturers, but consumers can bring new, not infrequently, even more acute health problems for consumers, since only with the consumption of natural vitamins and microelements, an overdose is practically impossible. After all, the body takes for itself exactly as much as it considers necessary.
To create high-quality enriched products, high-tech, and therefore expensive equipment, environmentally friendly and genetically unmodified raw materials are needed. Not many food manufacturers can afford this quality of production. That is why, it is not uncommon for products to be enriched with low-quality elements, or their incorrect inclusion in the composition of food.
The hope remains for imported imported products. The adherents of the system described above argue that functional foods should constitute at least 30% of the food consumed per day. This implies considerable costs and risks associated with the acquisition of low-quality functional food.
Studying the packaging, it is worth paying close attention to the composition, shelf life, storage conditions, the presence of state certificates of conformity of the product. It is important to adhere to the instructions for the use of the product.