Send to

Choose Destination
Dig Liver Dis. 2002 Sep;34 Suppl 2:S105-10.

Functional food concept and its application to prebiotics.

Author information

Catholic University of Louvain, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Louvain, Belgium.


A food can be regarded as functional if it is satisfactorily demonstrated to affect beneficially one or more target functions in the body, beyond adequate nutritional effects, in a way which is relevant to either the state of wellbeing and health or the reduction of the risk of a disease. A food can be made functional by increasing the concentration, adding or improving the bioavailability of a particular component. Functional food science will serve to establish claims based either on enhanced function or disease risk reduction. Inulin and oligofructose are functional food ingredients present in miscellaneous edible plants. They are non-digestible oligosaccharides classified as dietary fibres. The target for their functional effects is the colonic microflora that ferment them and for which they serve as selective "fertilizers"; the gastrointestinal physiology; the immune functions; the bioavailability of minerals; the metabolism of lipids; and colonic carcinogenesis. The scientific data available on the nutritional effects of inulin and oligofructose provide strong evidence for a prebiotic effect (i.e., selective stimulation of growth of bifidobacteria in colonic microbiota), improvement of bowel habit (both stool frequency and stool weight) and improved calcium bioavailability.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center