Functional foods and health: a US perspective
Milner JA.
Nutritional Science Research Group,
Division of Cancer Prevention,
National Cancer Institute,
6130 Executive Boulevard,
Suite 3164, Rockville, MD 20892, USA.
Br J Nutr. 2002 Nov;88 Suppl 2:S151-8


Linkages between diet habits and the quality of life continue to surface on numerous fronts. Collectively these epidemiological, pre-clinical and clinical studies provide rather compelling evidence that numerous essential and non-essential dietary components are capable of influencing growth, development and performance and disease prevention. Scientific discoveries and widespread interest in the potential medicinal benefits of foods and food components have fostered a variety of content, health and structure-function claims. Unfortunately, defining the ideal diet is complicated by the numerous and diverse components that may influence biological processes. Inconsistencies in the literature may reflect the multi-factorial nature of these processes and the specificity that individual dietary constituents have in modifying genetic and epigenetic events. New and emerging genomic and proteonomic approaches and technologies offer exciting opportunities for identifying molecular targets for dietary components and thus determining mechanisms by which they influence the quality of life. All cells have unique 'signatures' that are characterized by active and inactive genes and cellular products. It is plausible that bridging knowledge about unique cellular characteristics with molecular targets for nutrients can be used to develop strategies to optimize nutrition and minimize disease risk.
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