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Chronic diseases are the first cause of mortality in the first world. Besides preventive medicine, functional foods and nutraceutics are a good way to improve health and to reduce the risk factor of this type of illnesses, according to the group of experts who have talked about functional foods in the session organized by Biocat, Functional food and nutraceutics: the line between food and drugs?, in the Museu Colet of Barcelona.

If thirty years ago feeding was a synonym of nutrition for survival and only ten years ago  food security started to be regulated, nowadays it is used to improve our quality of life. Dr. Lluís Arola, director of the Technological Center of Nutrition and Health (CTNS), has explained that "whenever it is possible it is better to have a healthy diet than to medicate oneself". Dr. Arola has also assured that in future, diets will be personalized according to the need of each human being, affirmation that the rest of the participants at the session have corroborated. According to Dr. David de Lorenzo, codirector of the Group NUTREN-Nutrigenomics of the University of Lleida (UdL), "if the diet is personalized the functional foods have to be personalized. Genetic information can explain us which food is necessary for each person. It is a matter for the future".

One of the aspects which causes controversy towards functional foods, that is, foods that have suffered some type of transformation, adding or eliminating components, is its  regulation. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is the organization in charge of regulating its commercialization. These foods have to obtain a claim (declaration/certification of health) in order to reach the markets. They also have to proof its significance for the human health and the cause-effect relation, adapt to a balanced diet and have appliable evidences in the near future. The current legislation is flexible and there will not be consensus until approximately 2012, as Dr. Andreu Palou has pointed out. He is professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of the Balearic Islands and president of the Scientific Committee of the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition.

Food to reduce the expense in medicines

The production of these foods contributes to scientific advance, it reduces future costs derived from the treatment of illnesses as expenses for medicines and also represents steps forward in food technology.

Several institutions and companies experiences have been presented during the day. Dr. Buenaventura Guamis, director of the Food Technology Reference Center (CERPTA-UAB), has set forth that the application of new technologies, nanotechnologies and technofunctionalities is basic to improve food security, nutritious value of food and design and production of functional foods.

As for the use of these products from companies, Jaume Solà, R&D Manager Research Gallina Blanca Star, assures that "innovation is not only marketing any more, it is a cultural change. The company has to commit itself for a healthy and nutritious feeding, with properties that reduce the risk of chronic illnesses with the application of new technologies and methodologies". "The market rules", has said Dr. Sergi Audivert,  co-founder and co-managing director of AB Biotics, "and functional foods and nutraceutics are the future. Moreover, they are an opportunity for biotechnological, pharmaceutical companies, chemical and alimentary industry, at a business level as well as at technological development level".

The session has finished with a round table moderated by the professor of Biochemistry of the University of Barcelona, Dr. Enric Canela, who has focused on the issue that "Catalonia has some extraordinary conditions to develop in the field of food industry and nutrition". During the round table, the speakers have assured that functional foods and personalization of diets are the future of our diets. It does not mark a border with preventive medicine, but a meeting point. Moreover, they have affirmed that they see an improvement need in functional foods production and in technological adaptation of the food industry. Equally, they have claimed an opening towards the final consumer, to improve the alimentary education and to achieve a clear legislation and unified with the regulation of protocols in studies and rehearsals.


Aliments funcionals, concepte i avaluació científica
Dr. Lluís Arola, director – Technological Center of Nutrition and Health (CTNS)
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Disseny i producció d'aliments funcionals
Dr. Buenaventura Guamis, director – Food Technology Reference Center (CERPTA-UAB)
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L'estratègia d'innovació d'una gran empresa
Mr. Jaume Solà, R&D Manager Research – Gallina Blanca Star
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Ingredients funcionals i nutracèutics: una gran oportunitat per a la indústria biotecnològica
Dr. Sergi Audivert, co-founder and co-managing director – AB Biotics
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Aproximació a la nutrigenòmica i aplicacions en l'àmbit dels aliments funcionals
Dr. David de Lorenzo, codirector of the Group NUTREN-Nutrigenomics – University of Lleida (UdL)
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    Related news (14/10/2010)


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