Understanding the Connections between Whole Foods, Bioactive Chemicals, and Health

“There is an opportunity to improve health using foods and food components. However, sound pharmacology must be balanced with the nuances of human-food interactions,” stated Dr. Joshua D. Lambert, Ph.D. who was visiting Sampoerna University on 12 December 2019.

The associate professor at Department of Food Science, Center of Molecular Toxicology and Carcinogenesis, the Pennsylvania State University, presented his lecture titled “Whole Foods, Bioactive Chemicals, & Health”. The lecture revealed the link between diet and disease prevention from the standpoint of a pharmacologist.

According to him, foods should also be drugs/ medicine though public sees both as totally different things. “While drugs are single compounds or defined mixtures that are intended to have a single, defined target and are reproducibly manufactured under tight regulations, foods are complex mixtures containing both known and unknown multiple compounds, likely to impact multiple targets (most are not designed with health in mind), and reproducibly manufactured under tight regulations (at least for taste, safety, & shelf-life).”

This is because people interact with food a lot. “They have familiarity and strong opinions about foods around them,” he said.

‘Functional’ foods and bioactive food components follow the same rules as drugs. Dr. Lambert added that consumer beliefs impact their willingness to use food-derived bioactives (increases) and their skepticism about claims and concern about adverse effects (decreases).

“Foods are complex and subject to many factors that can influence their putative health effects,” he warned.

Dr. Lambert earned a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry. He then pursued his post-doctoral degree in Chemical Biology and he got his Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Toxicology. (*/)