Bioactive Components in Traditional Foods Aimed at Health Promotion: A Route to Novel Mechanistic Insights and Lead Molecules?

Renger F. Witkamp*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Traditional foods and diets can provide health benefits beyond their nutrient composition because of the presence of bioactive compounds. In various traditional healthcare systems, diet-based approaches have always played an important role, which has often survived until today. Therefore, investigating traditional foods aimed at health promotion could render not only novel bioactive substances but also mechanistic insights. However, compared to pharmacologically focused research on natural products, investigating such nutrition-based interventions is even more complicated owing to interacting compounds, less potent and relatively subtle effects, the food matrix, and variations in composition and intake. At the same time, technical advances in 'omics' technologies, cheminformatics, and big data analysis create new opportunities, further strengthened by increasing insights into the biology of health and homeostatic resilience. These are to be combined with state-of-the-art ethnobotanical research, which is key to obtaining reliable and reproducible data. Unfortunately, socioeconomic developments and climate change threaten traditional use and knowledge as well as biodiversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-336
JournalAnnual Review of Food Science and Technology
Volume13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

Keywords

  • bioactives
  • ethnobotany
  • natural compounds
  • nutrition
  • resilience

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