Background: Functional foods are designed to have physiological benefits and reduce the risk of chronic disease beyond basic nutritional functions. Conditions related to overnutrition such as Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 diabetes are increasingly serious concerns in Western societies. Several nutrient classes are considered to protect against these conditions and this review focuses on the latest clinical and preclinical evidence supporting their efficacy and the molecular mechanisms by which they act.
Methods: The review searched the literature for information and data on the following functional food components and their protective effects against Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes: Dietary fiber; Medium-chain triglycerides and Ketone esters; ω3 Polyunsaturated fatty acids and Antioxidants.
Results: Data from a hundred and four studies were reviewed and summarized. They indicate that dietary fiber results in the production of beneficial short chain fatty acids via intestinal microbiota, as well as increasing intestinal secretion of incretins and satiety peptides. Medium chain triglycerides and ketone esters promote thermogenesis, inhibit lipolysis and reduce inflammation. They also decrease endogenous synthesis of triglycerides and fatty acids. ω3-PUFA’s act to soften inflammation through an increase in adiponectin secretion. Antioxidants are involved in the protection of insulin sensitivity by PTP1B suppression and SIRT1 activation.
Conclusion: Functional foods have actions that complement and/or potentiate other lifestyle interventions for reversing Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes. Functional foods contribute to reduced food intake by promoting satiety, less weight gain via metabolic uncoupling and improved insulin sensitivity via several distinct mechanisms.
Keywords: Insulin sensitivity, type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, inflammation, short-chain fatty acids, mitochondrial uncoupling.
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