19 November 2015

Interactions between nutrition and medicine in effect and law

The research presented in the thesis concerns the use of nutritional science in the implementation of the European Nutrition and Health Claim Regulation as well as either the positive or negative effects resulting from combining the use of foods and pharmaceuticals. 

While food shifts towards being used as medicine, the use of food together with medicinal products can lead to both positive effects as well as negative adverse events. In this thesis both are exemplified: based on literature we show the potential of food components to reduce lung inflammation and increase lung function in patients suffering from chronic inflammatory lung diseases; the reports of adverse events due to interactions between prescribed medicine and food products show the potential negative results of combining food and medicine. When the active components of food products can be identified in more detail, these interactions can be predicted.

We advocate for specifying and characterising the functional ingredient based on these active components in health claims. Currently the bioactive is often connected to the food item it is delivered in, as is done with epicatechin from cocoa. In the approved health claim the term ‘cocoa flavonols’ is used, even though the amount of epicatechin in the cocoa is leading for using the claim on a product since this substance is responsible for the health effect. Still, the same amount of epicatechin in another product, as grapeseed extract, is not allowed to bare the same health claim. The effectiveness of the NHCR will be increased when defining and studying this bioactive substance is requested in the dossier substantiating the claim.