What Are Bioactives and How Do They Work?

The world of nutrition sparks interest and sometimes controversy for most people trying to find the best and healthiest way to fuel their bodies. Digging into farming and production processes can make people more conscious of their food choices.

We’ll walk you through an interesting food additive called bioactives by delving into what they are and what they’re used for.

What Are Bioactives?

Bioactives are microbes, chemicals, and chemical compounds that affect your body in some way. Bioactives are usually a substance that’s been taken from plants and other live organisms and when they’re added to food they become bioactive food components.

Although the name might seem daunting, bioactives are naturally already in most of the food we eat but usually in small or trace amounts. By increasing the amount in our foods, we can take more advantage of their researched health benefits.

How Do They Work?

Most bioactives are added to foods, usually dairy, during the production process depending on what benefits the company is looking to add. Other bioactives require a bit more work as they can react with other food components and chemicals like oxygen, which makes them lose their health benefits.

For those of you that don’t know, your intestines are the place where vitamins, minerals, and all health benefits from food are absorbed and distributed across the body.

How? Well, food scientists managed to create tiny microscopic capsules from proteins and carbohydrates that the bioactives can sit in that protect it from other components affecting it before it reaches the intestines.

Where Can I Get Some?

You won’t be able to go to the store and pick up bioactives on their own. But there are plenty of foods on the shelf where you can grab these additives for their health benefits.

The yogurt your eating? The milk you’re drinking? They both have bioactive ingredients in them like the probiotic lactobacillus which helps in the digestion process. The dairy industry is the most common user of bioactives and you can see this page for more dairy-specific bioactives.

Other bioactives you will see in food are carotenoids, polyphenols, fatty acids, and amino acid derivatives which have a range of benefits from helping with eyesight to supporting brain development in infants.

This Is Great, But What’s the Catch?

The catch is that the field of bioactive compounds is still relatively new and still developing and doesn’t have the support of strong scientific research.

Often times companies will add labels about their added bioactives to make the product more desirable for consumers and boosting profits. There’s still a ways to go in researching for bioactives to be fully supported and become a part of our foods.

Bioactives Digested

The field of bioactives is still in development and gaining momentum in trying to provide further evidence to support its use. We may see in the next few years more discussions around bioactives and their benefits.

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