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Diet for a New Millennium

Foods which are “good for our health” have been around for centuries. The words nutraceuticals and functional foods are perhaps less than twenty years old, but it is evident that as we turn our calendars over to 2000, these types of foods and beverages are going to become more and more a part of our diet. People are thinking more about what’s on their plate, where their food came from and how it was produced. Several recent outbreaks of sickness related to contaminated food (e.coli leading to hamburger disease, salmonella contaminated vegetable sprouts, mad cow disease) have given us cause to be concerned about the safety of our food. Organic foods have gone from an idea for hippy communes to a prominent place in many grocery store shelves because of the fear of pesticide and herbicide residues on our food. We want to know the history of our food before we eat it, and we also want to make choices about what we eat to make sure that we take full advantage of latest discoveries.

People who have made predictions about the future have said that there will come a day when all we will eat is a few pills filled with the essential nutrients. We will be too busy doing other things to spend time at a dinner table, eating large quantities of food that are not totally digested, and that contain toxins, pesticides and anti-nutritional factors. Even if this does become possible technically, it is hard to believe that we will give up the pleasures associated with eating for the sake of convenience. Rather, it is more likely that we will be eating foods that have increased levels of targeted ingredients as a way of preventing chronic disease and fighting infection. We are only now starting to identify foods that contain anti-oxidants, immune stimulants and anti-carcinogens. With each new discovery, we are finding that many of the foods we normally have in our diet contain components that are good for our health. At the same time the relationships between diet and disease is becoming more and more an accepted fact.

In the new millennium, functional foods will pass from being a new and exciting trend, to an important part of each individual’s health and disease fighting regime.

Table 1
Estimated Proportion of Diseases Attributed to the Diet1
Atherosclerosis50%
Hypertension50%
Diabetes (type II)50%
Intestinal Troubles50%
Coronary Disease40%
Cancer35%
osteoporosis20%

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