Until recently, good health was described as the absence of any diseases for centuries. It evolved to include physical, psychological and mental well-being. One significant factor in this new definition of health is food. You need nutritious food for the body’s growth, development and maintenance. It also helps enhance the overall quality of life.
Functional food science has recently emerged as a popular concept in Europe and the U.S. However, it originated decades ago in Japan. Functional food science indicates that foods and their components can significantly benefit the functions of the body. They also improve health and well-being while reducing the chances of diseases.
The latest trend in functional food science is Morinaga Milk. It is a dairy product company with a long history of researching and benefiting from the nutritional properties of functional ingredients.
Understanding Functional Foods
Functional foods are considered as those ingredients offering multiple health benefits that include more than the nutritional value. Some ingredients contain additional ingredients or supplements that enhance overall health.
The concept of functional food started during the 1980s in Japan. It was a time multiple government agencies began approving foods that had proven health benefits to enhance the population’s health and wellness.
The major examples of functional foods include any food that has been fortified with fiber, probiotics, minerals or vitamins. Ingredients that are rich in nutrients, like grains, seeds, nuts, vegetables and fruits, are also referred to as functional foods. For example, oats include beta-glucan, which is a type of fiber that has been proven to decrease inflammation, enhance heart health and improve immune function.
Morinaga: Pioneering in Functional Foods with Bifidobacterial Research
Morinaga Milk is one of the leading probiotic ingredient manufacturers for functional food, dietary supplements and infant formula products. With over 50 years of research experience in the benefits of functional health, safety and mechanisms of Human-Residential Bifidobacteria (HRB), Morinaga Milk creates and supplies probiotics bifidobacteria strains that have higher human compatibility.
The company excels in researching and establishing innovative technology to develop functional and probiotic ingredients worldwide. They offer probiotic solutions that are proven to be clinically effective. They also meet the health needs of humans, including healthy aging, mental health, weight management, infant well-being and health, immunity and gut health.
It is essential to understand that all probiotics are not the same. Not all of them comprise of same microbial competitiveness and fitness in the human gut. The residential origin and strain specificity determine the way probiotic bacterium interacts and contributes to human health.
Morinaga Milk has established a premium line of functional ingredients and probiotic strain products that are safe, high-quality, clinically effective and stable to consume. These strains are the ones that reside naturally in the human gut and are referred to as Human-Residential Bifidobacteria (HRB). Every HRB stain includes a range of health benefits to improve overall health and wellness.
Latest Morinaga Milk Development in Functional Food Science
Morinaga Milk has become the only company in Japan to earn the probiotic strains registration for the New Food Ingredient category. The second strain developed by the company, B. longum BB536, has been granted approval recently by China’s National Health Commission (NHC). This strain has been approved as a new food ingredient to be used for toddler and infant foods.
The new food ingredient is one of the regulatory systems needed for food ingredients to be allowed to be used in toddler and infant foods and general foods in China. The registered ingredient undergoes a strict evaluation process to meet the safety, health and nutritional requirements and comply with China’s regulatory standards. Only 13 probiotic strains have been granted approval since 2011.
The registration process is challenging since the ingredient can have a major impact on the entire population. China continues to update its regulatory framework and safety requirements to ensure and maintain the safety of the population, including young children and infants.
Benefits of Functional Foods
While research on functional foods and their advantages is still ongoing, many research studies have shown the following promising benefits of functional foods:
Prevents Nutrient Deficiencies
Functional foods are high in multiple nutrients, including fiber, healthy fats, minerals and vitamins. Including a range of functional foods in your diet, both fortified and conventional, can ensure that you are consuming sufficient nutrients to enhance your protection against nutrient deficiencies.
The higher consumption of fortified foods has been found to reduce nutrient deficiency around the world. After the introduction of wheat flour fortified with iron in Jordon, the iron deficiency anemia rates among children were drastically reduced.
The process of fortification has been found to reduce the chances of other conditions caused due to nutrient deficiencies, including birth defects, goiter and rickets.
Protect against Diseases
Functional foods offer key nutrients required to protect humans against multiple diseases. Numerous of these foods comprise antioxidants, which help neutralize free radicals, and harmful compounds to prevent damage to cells and other chronic conditions like diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
Some functional ingredients have a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been proven to enhance heart health, improve brain function and decrease inflammation.
Other foods are loaded with fiber, which enhances blood sugar control and prevents conditions like stroke, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Fiber might also play a role in preventing digestive disorders like acid reflux, hemorrhoids, stomach ulcers and diverticulitis.
Enhances Growth and Development
There are specific nutrients that are integral for the growth and development of children and infants. Having a variety of functional foods as a part of your normal healthy diet ensures all the nutritional requirements are met. Additionally, include fortified functional foods in the diet as they can also play a significant role in the growth and development of children.
Low folic acid levels can enhance the potential of neural tube defects that may impact the spine, spinal cord or brain. Increasing folic acid intake can decrease the chances of neural tube defects by 50 to 70%.
Other healthy nutrients in functional foods also play a role in the development and growth of an individual, including vitamin B12, calcium, zinc, iron and omega-3 fatty acids.
Functional foods have been associated with multiple significant health benefits that can enhance the overall health of humans. These foods have been found to reduce nutrient deficiencies, enhance proper development and growth, and offer protection against disease.
Additionally, functional foods provide a variety of healthy and nutritious fortified foods. Include them in your diet with whole foods to enhance your health and fill any nutritional gaps to maintain your wellness.
It is ideal for including fortified functional foods in your diet. However, consult your health care professional before changing your diet, particularly if you are battling a health condition.