Author(s): Milner JA
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Abstract Widespread interest in the possibility that selected foods might promote health has resulted in the coining of the term functional food, although agreement about what is and what is not a functional food is lacking. Public interest in functional foods is increasing because of higher health care costs; the passage of federal legislation affecting many food categories, including the expanded category of dietary supplements; and recent scientific discoveries linking dietary habits with the development of many diseases, including coronary heart disease and some cancers. A variety of foods have been proposed as providing health benefits by altering one or more physiologic processes. Biomarkers are needed to assess the ability of functional foods or their bioactive components to modify disease and to evaluate the ability of these foods to promote health, growth, and well-being. Evidence suggests that several biomarkers may be useful for distinguishing between diseased and nondiseased states and even for predicting future susceptibility to disease. A variety of biomarkers will probably be needed to develop a profile for an individual that reflects the impact of diet on performance and health. Another area of interest is the interaction of nutrients and their association with genetics. These interactions may account for the inconsistent interrelations observed between specific dietary constituents and the incidence of disease. Greater understanding of how diet influences a person's genetic potential, overall performance, and susceptibility to disease can have enormous implications for society. As new discoveries are made in this area, consumers will need access to this information so that they can make informed decisions.
This article was published in Am J Clin Nutr
and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals