Cross Talk Between Functional Foods and Gut Health

Cross Talk Between Functional Foods and Gut Health

Kiran Thakur (Hefei University of Technology, China), Jian Guo Zhang (Hefei University of Technology, China), Zhao-Jun Wei (Hefei University of Technology, China), Narendra Kumar (ICAR-National Dairy Research Institute, India), Sudhir Kumar Tomar (ICAR-National Dairy Research Institute, India) and Sarang Dilip Pophaly (Kamdhenu Vishwavidyalaya, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7039-4.ch014
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The phrase “Let food be the medicine and medicine be the food,” coined by Hippocrates over 2500 years ago is receiving a lot of interest today as food scientists and consumers realize the many health benefits of certain foods. Lately, consumer's choice in food consumption has improved considerably due to the acknowledgment of the fact that foods influence the overall human health. There has been a growing interest over the years to explore beneficial gut microbiota and different interventions are devised to modulate the microbiota through the use of probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics. Besides improving intestinal health, functional food ingredients also have the potential to restore the gut homeostasis during intestinal disorders conditions. The human gut has a marked effect on the nutritional and health status of the host due to the presence of diverse bacterial species, which develop important metabolic and immune functions. This makes intestinal microbiota a target for nutritional and therapeutic interventions and a factor which influence the biological activity of other food compounds .This chapter attempts to highlight how the reciprocal interactions take place between the gut microbiota and functional food components and how these interactions affect human health and manage various metabolic disorders.
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According to national and international guidelines, the legal framework for “functional food” represents a number of legally defined subgroups: The scheme of subgroups are shown in Figure 1. Foodstuffs intended for particular nutritional uses, Novel foods, Fortified foods, Dietary supplements and Dietary foods (Asp et al., 2004). Since ages, food is consumed to satisfy host physiological requirements. When the relation between diet and health research was evolved, the idea of ‘functional foods’ has been conceived (Laparra & Sanz 2010; Gibson, 2007). Today, foods are not consumed only to satisfy hunger but also to provide nutrients for humans and prevent nutrition-related diseases, modulating gut microbiota and thus improving physical and mental well-being (Roberfroid, 2000). There is a rapid shift in consumer’s interest in the health-enhancing roles of specific foods or physiologically active food components, so-called functional foods (Pang et al., 2012) and it has been gradually accepted that foods contribute directly to their health (Mollet et al., 2002). Increasing awareness for the relationship between good nutrition and increasing demand for food not only provides understanding about foods but also enhances the knowledge about their health benefits (Burgain et al., 2011) and leads to the development of the functional food concept and nutraceuticals (Roberfroid, 2000).

Figure 1.

Legal framework for functional food

Siro et al., 2008 Kotilainen et al., 2006; Spence, 2006.

Manipulation of gut microbiota through the use of probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics has been taking place (Laparra & Sanz 2010). Gut bacteria are nurtured by so-called functional foods and there has been a growing appreciation for this beneficial gut microbiota in human and animal health, which further improvises the health status of the host via modulation of the immune and metabolic functions. They also provide additional enzymatic activities involved in the transformation of dietary compounds. Also, food bioactive compounds modulate the gut microbiota composition and probably its functional effects on mammalian tissues (Shapiro et al, 2014) . Dysbiosis of the gut microbiota has been reported for several pathologies, such as inflammatory chronic diseases of the intestine (Tomasello et al, 2011), intestinal cancer (Serban, 2014), and susceptibility to allergy (Haahtela, et al., 2013), and especially for metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and obesity (Serino et al., 2009).

Advances in the knowledge of the interactions between bioactive food compounds and specific intestinal bacteria contribute to a better understanding and identification of new functional micro-organisms inhabiting our intestinal tract. It is essential that science and traditional knowledge must go hand in hand to find mutually beneficial results of interaction of traditionally prepared functional products and gut microbes (Laparra & Sanz 2010). Functional food market is growing at a fast pace and presents a tremendous growth opportunity for food companies. However, for achieving consumer acceptance in the long run, the marketers would have to focus on studying consumer expectations, judicious product development, efficient distribution and effective communication (Sequeira & Tomar, 2015). Production of functional foods is blooming area that has foremost featuring in the food industry and a very promising market, not only for economic reasons but by scientific evidence of its benefits.

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