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Functional foods
Function Foods fall into three categories:

Foods just called Functional foods

Functional foods are ordinary foods that have components or ingredients incorporated into them
to give them a specific medical or physiological benefit, other than a purely nutritional effect.
To be classified as a functional food, a product should also carry a health claim on the
packaging. Known as Foods for Specified Health Use (FOSHU) in Japan. Currently, 100
products are licensed as FOSHU foods in Japan
Functional Foods From Plant Sources
Steinmetz and Potter (1991a) identified more than a dozen classes of these biologically
active plant chemicals, now known as "phytochemicals" that can reduce cancer risk.

Fibre containing Plant Foods
Oats is a sauce of the cholesterol lowering soluble fiber b-glucan.A majority of studies
revealed statistically significant reductions in total and LDL-cholesterol in
hypercholesterolemic subjects consuming either a typical American diet or a low fat diet.
In the USA Oats was the first food to be allowed to use a food-specific health claim in
January 1997 by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
 Health benefits of Fibre in Food
                          Insoluble fiber binds water, making stools softer and bulkier. Therefore, fiber is helpful in the
                           prevention of constipation,  hemorrhoids and diverticulosis. Diverticula are pouches of the
                           intestinal wall that can become inflamed and painful.

                           The body eliminates cholesterol through the excretion of bile acids.
                          Water-soluble fiber binds bile acids, causing an increase in
                          excretion of cholesterol. Some types of fiber, however, appear to have a greater effect than
                          others. Oats and Pectin are more effective in lowering blood cholesterol levels than
                          the fiber found in wheat.

                         . Dietary fiber may help reduce the risk of some cancers, especially colon cancer.
                           This is because insoluble fiber increases  the rate in which feces elimiated the body.
                           Thus there is less exposure of the colon walls to toxic substances produced during digestion.

                          Fiber may help one  to lose weight. Fiber has no usable calories,
                          but a "full" feeling because of its fills the stomach.

                           Fiber slows down the absortion of glucose and therefore lowers the glycemic index. reducing the
                            likley onset of type II diabetes see The Facts on Fiber and Diabetes

Estrogenic effects in foods

Soy has a high quality protein, and it is now thought to play preventive and therapeutic
roles in cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, osteoporosis, and the alleviation of
Consumption of soy protein reductions in total cholesterol , LDL cholesterol ,
and triglycerides, with a small increase in high density lipoprotein(HDL)
The effect may be due to soy's isoflavones content.
Anticarcinogens have been identified in soybeans, including protease inhibitors,
phytosterols, saponins, phenolic acids, phytic acid, and isoflavones
Only soybeans are the only dietary source of Isoflavones (genistein and daidzein) are
Isoflavones are heterocyclic phenols similar to the estrogenic steroids. As weak
estrogens, isoflavones can compete with naturally occurring estrogens (e.g., oestradiol)
for binding to the estrogen receptor. Thus reducing the effect of endogenous estrogens
This reduces the risk of estrogen dependent cancer. There are no published clinical
research investigating the role of soy in reducing cancer risk.
Soy may reduce osteoporosis and increase bone mineral content by acting as HRT
Soy alleviation of menopausal symptoms was indicated by the fact that asian
women compared to Western women have much milder menopausal symptoms
It may be too early to suggest that soy may substitute for hormone replace-ment therapy.
Problems with Isoflavones in baby food. see
Plasma Isoflavones in infants fed soy based formula were 13000-22000 times higher than plasma oestradiol concentrations in early life, and may be sufficient to exert biological effects, whereas the contribution of isoflavones from breast milk and cowlick is negligible.
these compounds may actually increase the risk of breast cancer and cause thyroid disease, and soy formulas manufacturers refuse to remove them from their products
despite knowing that babies fed soy formulas risk irreversible damage.
Problems with Soy  (Soy Toxins) Toxins found in soy products

        The danger from soy toxins depends on the amout of soy in the diet. For adults who only consume soy  occasionaly there is
        little danger but for neonates fed soy milk as their only food the danger is much greater.

Protease Inhibitors

Perhaps the best known of the soy toxins are the protease inhibitors (also referred to as trypsin inhibitors) which are able to inhibit the action of proteases
Phytates are compounds derived from phytic acid (inositol hexaphosphate). The multiple phosphates groups enable it to effective chelate, certain metal ions. making them less available to the body e.g.. phytates bind calcium (Ca2+), copper (Cu2+), iron (Fe2+), manganese (Mn2+) and zinc (Zn2+).
Soy based infant formulas can contain as much as 200 times the level of manganese found in natural breast milk. Eight percent of the excess manganese in the diet is stored in the brain.

One in eight infants raised on soy formula during the first six months of life may be at risk of brain and behavioral disorders not become evident until adolescence.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B 12 deficiency has been recognized as a serious result of soy consumption for many years
Phytoestrogens and the Risk of Cancer!

See Also

Vegetarian Diet In Pregnancy Linked To Birth Defect

The Myths of Vegetarianism

Flaxseeds contain fiber associated compounds known as lignans. The two primary lignans are enterodiol and enterolactone, are formed in the intestine by bacterial acting on plant lignan precursors . Flaxseed is a rich source of lignan precursors . Enterodiol and enterolactone are analogues of estrogens, and are weakly estrogenic similar to soy isoflavones , and may play a role in the prevention of estrogen-dependent cancers. In rodents, flaxseed has been shown to decrease tumors of the colon ,mammary gland and the lung
Selected by Eating Well magazine as the 1997 Vegetable of the Year, tomatoes have received significant attention within the last three years because of interest in lycopene, the primary carotenoid found in this fruit (Gerster, 1997), and its role in cancer risk reduction (Weisburger, 1998).

Drinks as functional foods. Some are fortified with the A, C and E,
and others with herbal extracts. A fruit juice brand is now also fortified with calcium at the rate of
365mg per 250ml glass.


Specific chemicals added to food:

Dietary phytosterolsas cholesterol lowering agents in humans.

Chemically resembling cholesterol, phytosterols inhibit the absorption of cholesterol and bile salts.
Dietary cholesterol is only adds a small percentage of the cholesterol to the blood in normal individuals
Cholesterol is synthesized in the body from acetyl Co A and is increased if there is a imbalance between dietary intake of carbohydrates (CHO) and dietary fat. Carbohydrates are needed for anaplerosis the process that supplies the intermediates of the Citric Acid cycle (CAC). It is the CAC that is need to remove acetyl CoA. produced by the catabolism of fat and CHOs and protein. When the diet has less than 50% of its energy supplied from CHO anaplerosis is insufficient and AcetylCoA accumulates. The body has to remove the Acetyl CoA so it can recycle its limited amount of CoA ( containing the vitamin Pyridoxal phosphate). To remove Acetyl CoA the body uses it to make cholesterol and ketone bodies. The cholesterol accumulates and can lead to cardiovascular disease and the ketone bodies lead to acidosis.
Bile salts are normally recycled by being absorbed from the intestine and secreted by the liver via bile. When phytosterols inhibit bile re-absorption from the intestine the liver is forced to make extra replacement bile acid from cholesterol. There by lowering the availability of cholesterol in the body and hence less chance of cardiovascular disease.
Excessive use of dietary phytosterols may lower the availability of cholesterol so that other important materials made from cholesterol may have adverse effects . e.g. reduced sex hormones. Vit D and other steroid hormones.

Report by the HEART FOUNDATION at

Functional foods, Nutraceuticals and phytochemicals

Essential Carbohydrates

Eight specific carbohydrates represent the key to cellular communication. These sugars combine with proteins to create the glycoprotein chemical messengers. These messengers are significant in regulating the immune system. Only two of the eight are commonly found in our typical modern diets: glucose and galactose. The other sugars are Mannose, Fructose, Xylose, N-Acetylglucosamine, N-Acetylglucosamine, and N-Acetylneuraminic acid. These six sugars can be made in the body from glucose but not fast enough to achieve optimal health. Diets containing these "essential" carbohydrates
show markedly improve resistance to disease.


 Lactase and a-galactosidase
People who are lactose intolerant have a deficiency of the enzyme lactase and hence have to depend on exogenous
sources of that enzyme.

Digestive enzymes
 Proteases, lipases and amylase added to food help people with
abnormaly  low  production of these enzymes. Low  production of these enzymes can lead
to various digestive diorders such as constipation, bloating and gas due to nutients reaching
the colon and exessive stimulating bacterial growth

Diastatic Malt Extract
So called digetive malt extract products have been on the market for 50 odd years and contains
cerial amylases

Digestive aids
Papaya enzyme from  Papaya Melon is Papain and a protease (protein digesting enzymes),
Alpha-Amylase (starch digesting enzyme),
Bromelain (protein digesting enzyme from pineapple),
 Lipase (assists in fat digestion)
Cellulase (helps digest vegetable matter).

Fat Replacers or Fat substitutes
The fat replacers developed to date generally fall into one of three categories:

carbohydrate based
protein based
fat based

Carbohydrate based
Many of the low fat products introduced in recent years contain carbohydrate based fat replacers (e.g., cellulose, maltodextrins, gums, starches, fiber and polydextrose). Carbohydrates have been used safely for many years as thickeners and stabilizers. These ingredients are also effective fat replacers in many formulated foods, including heat applications. They are not suitable for frying foods.

Protein based
Protein based fat replacers have tremendous potential for use in a variety of products, especially frozen and refrigerated products. Although protein based fat replacers are not suitable for frying foods, they can be used in many heat applications (e.g., cream soups, pasteurized products, baked goods).

Fat based
Scientists have been able to chemically alter fatty acids to provide fewer or no calories, making fat based fat replacers possible. Some fat based fat replacers actually pass through the body virtually unabsorbed (e.g., olestra). These ingredients have the advantage of heat stability and offer excellent versatility. Some may be used in frying; others as cocoa butter substitutes.

Fat Blockers


What is Chitin

Chitin can be found in crustaceans, such as crabs, lobsters, and shrimp. It can also be found in insects, worms, and fungus, or mushrooms.

Use in industry
Chitin is often used in industry to clean water, protect circumstance and in the dyestuff industry, paper making industry, face painting commodity, medicament assistant material, hospital seam, and so no.

Use in Diet to block fat absorption
Chitin inhibits intestinal absorption of dietary fat. Each gram of chitin binds 4 gram of fat It is claimed to reduce effect of many other diseases. See review

Testimony regarding dangers of dietary supplements including Chitin on behalf of the Nutritional Sciences Department
University of California, Berkeley

Sugar Blockers

Chromium Polynicolinate

Trivalent chromium inhibits glucose absorption in the gut and assists insulin to increase absorption of glucose out of blood into tissue cells. Thus lowering blood sugar levels by reducing glucose input and increasing removal . This improves glucose tolerance (GTT) and reduces type II diabetes

On the other hand Hexavalent chromium is very toxic and has lead to many health problems where it enters ground water and in industry

Gymnema(Gymnema sylvestre)

Known as gurmar in its native India, gymnema (Gymnema sylvestre) is a tropical plant of the milkweed family.
Traditional uses Gymnema has a long history of medicinal use in India for "honey urine" or what we call diabetes. Its ancient Sanskrit name means "sugar destroyer."

Diet suppressers

Mannans ( guar gum)

Guar gum slow absorption
Infusion of meals containing starch showed that a decrease in the digestion rate of starch in the upper small intestine accounted for part of the effect of viscosity on glycemic response, whereas the main effect of guar gum was apparently to slow gastric emptying

Glucomannan (konjac)
When ingested, it turns into a gel like substance able to expand up to fifty times its weight, causing a feeling of fullness, which prevents over eating.

Dangers of Konjac

Opra Winfrey Show Report
Dangers of this a seemingly harmless-looking treat, yet it's been reported that a type of this gel-like candy has killed at
least 21 children over the last few years.

Konjac Candy Recalls
The Food and Drug Administration has issued warnings about consuming mini-cup gel candies that contain the ingredient "konjac" (also known as conjac, konnyaku, yam flour, or glucomannan).

Vitamin like compounds

Inositol and choline

Inositol and choline are B-vitamin like compounds that have similar
functions. Both are important components of phospholipids, which
 make up cellular and other biological membranes, and both play a role
 in healthy nerve function.
Choline is an essential ingredient for the production of acetylcholine, the principal
neurotransmitter, while phosphorus-containing compounds of inositol in nerve cells help
regulate nerve impulses.


. L-Carnitine is a co-factor which is required for transport of fatty acids into the mitochondria of  muscle cells
where they serve as a substrate for energy production . Carnitine deficiency causes the fatty acids to back
up and accumulate in the blood ultimately resulting in additional deposition of fat.

Lipoic Acid

Lipoic acid,is a  natural antioxidant slowly becoming recognized as having some unique properties in the
therapy and prevention of a broad range of diseases. In addition to being an antioxidant, lipoic acid helps the body use glucose, hence lipoic acid's
potential role in improving blood sugar control. Lipoic acid is readily absorbed from the diet or as a supplement.


Ubiquinone (CoQ) use in cardiovascular disease
CoQ plays an important role in the mitochondrial electron transport
chain. NADH and succinate dehydrogenases, and other flavoproteins, donate electrons to CoQ, which transfers them to non-heme iron proteins. The
oxidation-reduction reactions that CoQ undergoes during electron transport are an essential part of the proton pumping mechanism which leads to the generation of ATP in the mitochondria.
Nutitioal benifits of CoQ

Vitamins as functional Food



Yogurts containing Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacteria are popular, while other fermented foods
Yakult (providing L casei Shirota), Nestles LC1 (providing Lactobacillus johnsonii) and Culturelle (Lactobacillus GG)
Bifidobacteria and lactobacilli may help fight a wide range of harmful and food-poisoning bacteria, and reduce cases of diarrhea


Oligosaccharides are short chains of sugar molecules Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) consist of short chains of fructose molecules. Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), consist of short chains of galactose molecules. Inulin is a polysaccharide with similar properties and consist of longer chains of fructose units These compounds are poorly digested by humans and pass into the colon to provide food for “friendly” bacteria, such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus species. Other benefits noted with FOS, GOS, or inulin supplementation include increased production of beneficial short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate. Increased growth of bacteria in the gut can cause flatulence and diarrhea if overdone.