With the rising incidents of diverse health complications, many people today are more cautious than ever about their health. The sagacious adage, ‘Prevention is better than cure’, has become engraved in people’s minds, with preventive medicine being the popular itinerary as opposed to curative medicine. This has seen the development and advancement of functional foods and medical foods.
Functional foods are foods that offer additional health benefits aside from the basic nutritional gains found in food. Medical foods constitute specially formulated foods, whose purpose is to fight a disease on a dietary basis, providing nutritional benefits that would ordinarily not be found in normal food.
New Jersey State and Israel have joined forces to undertake a course that will revolutionize the health sector and food industry. Israel is one of the world’s leading countries when it comes to agricultural technology. Did you know for instance, that the milk product of an average cow in Israel amounts to an estimate of 12,000 liters per year ? Few countries, if any, can match this production.
Israel leads the world in the utilization of farming Apps that avail the farmers with a wealth of information regarding all stages of agricultural ventures, from knowing the right kind of crop for a particular climate, to the appropriate time and method of harvesting. New Jersey on the other hand is a pace setter when it comes to the production of processed food. Many technological advancements, geared towards healthy value addition, have been made in the state’s food industry, which is one of the biggest contributors to New Jersey’s economy.
Rutgers University, Tel-Hai College, Knesset Economic Development Task Force, and Negev, recently signed an MOU, dubbed “The New Jersey-Israel Healthy, Functional and Medical Foods Alliance”. The purpose of this partnership is to combine efforts in the endeavors of scientific research, business incubation and commercialization pertaining to healthy foods. Knesset’s Economic Development Task Force Chairman, Erel Margalit declared that the Alliance will boost the status of the agricultural sector, nutrition industry and life sciences in the Galilee region, making it a world class medical foods leader. He also added that it has been his vision to create several regions of excellence in Israel, which offer investment opportunities and job creation to many. Lou Cooperhouse, the president of New Jersey Business Incubation Network, also the director for Rutgers Food Innovation Center, echoed Margalit’s remarks on job creation. He said that this alliance anticipates formation of many companies, which will result in creation of many jobs, and production of diverse specialty products to consumers across the globe.
Lou Cooperhouse said that the partnership will focus on eight key areas;
1. Academic and Scientific research.
2. Technology commercialization and applied research.
3. Experiential training and student exchange programs.
4. Public policy.
5. Nutrition education and community health.
6. Entrepreneurship training.
7. Joint venture and Corporate R and D cooperation.
8. Business Incubation.
Technological advancements in the recent years, have indeed created a wonderful world for humanity in this modern age. However, most of these technologies have not come without corresponding negative consequences, which mostly manifest indirectly. For instance, industrial advancements have led to activities and products that harm our bodies and pollute the environment, which explains why we have been having such high incidents of cancer and other diseases. Too often, countries embrace new technologies that promise faster production and lower costs, but seldom do they ask what is the long term effect of the new technologies, and the possible downsides. Moreover, seldom do we use health impact as a standard measure of evaluating the usability of new technology. This is why I feel that the course undertaken by New Jersey and Israel, is greater than any other scientific or technological endeavor today.
Well, perhaps you might be like, ‘ Wow! The Alliance must be a big thing underway’, but maybe some questions still linger at the back of your mind. Perhaps the concept is relatively new to you, and you might be wondering how these foods look like, or whether you have encountered them. Let me shed some light. Have you heard of oats, nuts, or leafy greens? Well, I don’t imply that those are the functional or medical foods. This is to simply point out that functional foods are just ordinary foods which have been fortified and enriched with extra nutrients. Most functional foods contain phytochemicals, antioxidants and other minerals which have disease preventive properties. Medical foods on the other hand are foods that are tailored to meet manage a particular disease. For example, patients with metabolic stress may be served with food containing supplemental glutamine, which nourishes the gastrointestinal tract, enabling the restoration of glutamine when the patient is in catabolic state that is under duress.