Functional foods: psychological and behavioural functions
Dye L, Blundell J.
School of Psychology,
University of Leeds, UK.
Br J Nutr. 2002 Nov;88 Suppl 2:S187-211


It is easier to demonstrate the consistent effects of foods on satiety than on cognitive performance. This is understandable since the satiety system incorporates physiological signalling systems that mediate the effects of foods on function. Specific manipulations of proteins, carbohydrates and fats have the potential to act as functional foods for appetite control. Because of the importance of the optimal functioning of cognitions for survival, these functions are quite strongly protected against short-term dietary and physiological perturbances. Therefore, food manipulations may be better detected through the degree of effort exerted to maintain performance rather than via changes in the actual performance itself. This procedure has not been widely used hitherto. The concept of biomarkers may have to be interpreted differently from research on physiological systems or clinical endpoints. For satiety, adjustments in the profile of hunger could serve as a biomarker or surrogate endpoint. For cognitions, correlated physiological variables may be more difficult to measure than the functional endpoint itself. Changes related to unitary functions (such as tracking) could serve as biomarkers for more complex, integrated skills (such as car driving). Since food manipulations may affect multiple functions, the challenge is to design foods with good satiety control that do not impair mental performance; or alternatively to engineer foods that optimise cognitive performance without compromising satiety. This rapidly developing field has great potential for close collaboration between academia and industry in the production of commercially successful products that show clear improvements in human functioning with the capacity to protect against disease or impairment.
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