This book is a product of a international working group entitled “Foods with Health benefits”, managed by the Danone Institute International in 2010.
Food and drugs overlap considerably in definition and application, yet also possess several fundamental differences. Pharmacologically, drugs are defined as substances used to diagnose, mitigate, prevent, treat, or cure diseases. Foods are substances that provide taste, aroma, or nutritive value. The role of drugs in modern medicine is primarily for treatment, as prevention is unfortunately not at the core of modern medicine’s tenet. In contrast, functional foods and food bioactives are defined as foods or components of food which have biological activity beyond their nutritional value. Functional foods and food bioactives are primarily incorporated into the diet as a preventative measure rather than a treatment of acute disease. Since drugs first originated from foods it is not surprising that the lines between the two are often thin. What distinguishes a food from a drug may not be as relevant as when it becomes a drug and what to do about the functional foods and food bioactives in between.