A. Keiko


In Japan, research on functional foods had humble beginnings about 30 years ago. It traced a unique path of development to a mainstay of frontal food science. Meanwhile, nutrigenomics was launched as a comprehensive method for investigating total effects of nutrients in the body. This can be applied to functional foods as well as nutrients. However, the data analysis needs care. Since even functional foods contain a variety of compounds together with functional factors, the data inherently include noises to a certain extent. Thus, there are often the case that inappropriate choices of experimental designs and statistic data analyses lead to incorrect or even erroneous conclusions. Also, since foods cannot elicit physiological functions so efficiently as pharmaceuticals, it is necessary to detect any minute change taking place after ingestion. Responding to the necessity, we must elaborate research plans, select accurate experimental methods, and use suitable statistics. Taking those into consideration, our group has been conducting functional food genomics, often with satisfactory results in several cases. Genomics can be applied for safety as well as nutritional and functional evaluation. Though the nutrient requirement has been statistically established, no genomic information is available regarding the risk of the inadequate or excessive intakes. We are assessing safety intake levels of minerals.