Natural Functioning Ingredients – They Should Come With a Health Warning

4 Nov 2014

Over the last 25 years, food stuffs that provide health benefits – nutraceuticals – have gone from relatively unknown research breakthroughs, wrapped in legislative restrictions and controversy, to become a regular part of the weekly shopping basket of the increasingly health-conscious consumer. Prior to the introduction of nutraceuticals, consumption was enough to satisfy people’s hunger. […]

Natural Functioning Ingredients – They Should Come With a Health Warning

Over the last 25 years, food stuffs that provide health benefits – nutraceuticals – have gone from relatively unknown research breakthroughs, wrapped in legislative restrictions and controversy, to become a regular part of the weekly shopping basket of the increasingly health-conscious consumer.

Prior to the introduction of nutraceuticals, consumption was enough to satisfy people’s hunger. It took some time for education on nutrition and its adverse effects before there was any awareness as to what the scientific community was saying about vitamins, essential fatty acids and their implications on overall health. Authorities informed the public through labelling and media campaigns (“It should come with a health warning”) about the risk of contamination and the need to avoid dangerous foods, and also gave recommendations on daily and weekly intake. It almost became fashionable to eat healthily, to exercise and to take supplements. However, this was shrouded by the ignorance of harmful consumption: fat replacers, low calorie drinks, and foods fuelled with refined flour and an endless range of products containing processed sugar and additives.

General health remained relatively poor. Here, we had the potential of a major advance in the promotion of health and prevention of disease, which could fundamentally change the outlook and motivating factors behind how and why we consume food and drink. Things changed slowly; momentum was building through research; legislation was opening up; and the acceptance of the once-thought outrageous claims that certain types of foods will improve health has led to exponential growth in this industry. The claims are well documented and are backed by the blue chip companies who have entered this arena. It’s no longer just about “bulk and cost”.

We have seen energy boosters, immune stimulants, claims of protection against cardiovascular disease through to natural sweeteners and weight management solutions for ‘globesity’, and research continues in this endless pursuit of improved health and extended longevity of life as age expectancy increases beyond any reasonable expectations of 30 years ago.

Harmful alternatives to sugar, fat substitutes, myths behind whole grains, expensive diet fads and consultations and so on will have at last run their course. This will be a time when food taken from a plant, rather than made in a plant, will be preferred.

There are many factors in favour of nature and natural ingredients with vast unexplored possibilities that remain open for the food industry to deliver for the world.

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