Many nutritionists do not like the concept of functional foods. Dr. Colin Campbell is one of these. In his recent book on the subject of nutritional science, he makes it clear that the answer to the challenge of nutrition and health is whole foods, not extractions or fabrications of any kind.
His arguments are very persuasive, even conclusive as to people with acute diseases, such as cancer, heart disease and advanced diabetes. We do not really see singular, causative agents in the nutritional cycle so much as a complex, even overwhelming family of interactions at many levels, from the cellular and molecular to proteins, metabolic pathways, systems of complex sets of organs. For example, we have recently become aware of highly networked, nuanced relationships between our brains, our neurological systems, and our small intestines.
Such complexity points to one reason the drug companies are having difficulty matching previous financial successes with what are termed blockbuster drugs. Causative factors are difficult to find. For that matter, some earlier successes are now tarnished, as many have been found to "game the system" and present ephemeral or counter-productive results.
By definition, functional foods involve extraction from agricultural products. Such extraction processes may involve one or more substances from the original that are considered to have beneficial effects. Extraction is a very common practice. In fact, such processes form the basis for many pharmaceutical preparations, beginning with aspirin, which was originally found in willow bark. Such extractions are typically artificially reproduced and otherwise transformed.
There are philosophical arguments for insisting on consuming only whole foods without extractions or other artificial food sources. This philosophy is in harmony with those that underscore the 2020 Program. Whole is surely better, from evolutionary and natural perspectives. Humans, on the other hand are imperfect beings and sometimes let things get out of balance. This can include "sins of omission" or "sins of commission". Sometimes we are not in position to enjoy a beneficial meal. At times, we decide to work too hard; stress takes its toll. Certain keys processes may need to be buoyed up, the source of which can be identified and presented in easily-consumed forms.
Extraction for nutritional purposes shares characteristics with other forms of food preparation. At times, foods are changed into different forms than found naturally. This can take place for many reasons. Key among these is the need to preserve food so that it can be transported to consumers over large distances and through long periods. Ingredients can be put into finished goods, packaged foods in particular, to improve texture, taste, color, and the usual features. In a broad sense, that is what cooking is. It is not that such activities are going to end any time soon.
Functional foods can be considered in this context. We are not at the end of the era of prepared foods. We simply need to get better at it.