2016-17 Student Bloggers Invited to Contribute

Kappa Omicron Nu is currently seeking 2 (or more!) undergraduate or graduate student members to publish bi-monthly blog posts on a variety of human sciences topics. Previous topics have included aging, community, fashion, fitness, learning, and nutrition – what’s YOUR passion?

Share what you love, collaborate with others, and grab a front-and-center seat in the spotlight as a KON blog writer! A small stipend is provided for each published article. To apply, contact [email protected]

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Functional Foods: Beneficial by Design

by Mardelyn Schultz

When you walk into a grocery store or watch television, it’s hard to miss the myriad of advertisements touting food items enhanced with special features. Products like eggs containing omega 3 fatty acids or yogurts compromised of a specific type of probiotic blend are considered ‘functional foods.’ While that term implies that conventional foods are subpar, it is not a mystery that all foods contain a nutritive value that may take part in the functionality of the body, and there is no definitive legal term identified in the United States. Because of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990, however, health claims can be used on packaged food items4 that allow functional foods to be generally recognized by the public.

Raspberries

What are functional foods?

By definition, functional foods are enhanced beyond the standard nutritive value to promote general well-being or reduce the risk of certain conditions1, 3. Functional foods can be classified as: foods either modified or unmodified that are considered healthy or nutritious, foods that require supervision by a medical professional, and foods developed for specific uses1.

An example of a functional food is yogurt, which is known for providing a good source of probiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide beneficial effects pertaining to the microflora of the gastrointestinal tract of the host2. Yogurt is also a good source of calcium, which is known to be beneficial for bone health. Since probiotics and calcium naturally occur in yogurt, this would be considered an unmodified functional food item. However, food manufacturers may claim that a particular brand contains a specific type of probiotic that is supported by research to be more beneficial. When a food item is altered to increase its value or to make a health claim, it is considered a modified functional food.

Functional foods and modified functional foods typically promote consumer health in general, but others are not intended for broad consumption. Medical foods are for individuals who have special nutritional needs, and they sometimes require supervision by a healthcare provider. These food items are designed to help manage or decrease complications associated with certain conditions, and they must include a label describing intended use4. Enteral formulas for individuals on nutrition support are a good example of medical foods. Infant formulas, another good example, are specifically developed to support the growth and development of babies, but they do not necessarily need a prescription or a doctor’s supervision.

As researchers continue to discover how important food is for health, individuals will be interested in applying this information, developing new foods, and even improving the growth and support of the foods in our supply. As this area of nutrition continues to evolve, it is important to keep in mind that it is just one of the many elements that encompass health and well-being.

References

  1. Denny, Sharon. (2014, July). Plates With Purpose: What Are Functional Foods? It’s About Eating Right. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
  2. Farnworth, Edward R.; Ed. Robert E. C. Wildman. (2007). Probiotics and Prebiotics. Handbook of Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods Second Edition. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
  3. EUFIC. (2014, Sept. 12) Functional foods. The European Food Information Council.
  4. Nutrition Education and Labeling Act of 1990. (1990, November 8). Pub. L. 101-535. 104 Stat. 2353.

What to look for in a college

Alyssa Willis, Kappa Omicron Nu Student Blogger

Preface: Undergraduate student colleagues, we are in a unique position to mentor and recruit promising high school students into our fields. I invite you to join me in innovating and leading this endeavor to advance the long-term strength of human sciences.

This is a message to seniors in high school. As a senior you have reached a point in life of both excitement and anxiety. Finally, you are the old and experienced student that seems to know everything about the school. The world is in your hands as you are about to end one legacy and begin to enter the new realm of the college world. But which college are you going to choose? How do you decide where to go when there are so many excellent options?

Obviously, there are significant factors such as reputation in your chosen area, location, tuition cost, campus aesthetics, and of course success rate in finding relevant future employment after obtaining a degree. But even with those criteria, there is likely a short list of potential institutions that warrant closer investigation. So what becomes an important but not necessarily obvious element to consider?

Recently, I attended two of my college’s Open House events that are designed to make high school seniors want to come to our school. The Open House included a campus tour and seminars by key faculty from departments of interest to answer everyone’s questions. At the event, I was asked to speak on behalf of the Family and Child Studies department to talk about my personal experiences as a student and try to help both high school students and their parents understand why Montclair State University is a great choice.

After first listening to the adviser of my department talk about what Family and Child Studies has to offer, I picked up on one of his main points as the reason I have continued to thrive at college. This would be passion. When first choosing a major, you have to decide if what you are studying is something you can be passionate about for the majority of your life. I have always been passionate about teaching and working with families. However, as a student I found that it is even more important to see how passionate my professors are about their jobs and what they are teaching. My professors have continuously been examples and mentors for me. If they were not passionate about their work, I believe it would resonate with the classroom environment and negatively affect my experience as a student.

At the Open House, I was able to tell parents and students about my current involvement and accomplishments as an undergraduate. Reflecting back on this experience, I realized that my accomplishments relied heavily on the support, recognition, and motivation my professors have and continue to give to me. Although as a senior in high school it is almost impossible to meet the professors you will be learning from in the next few years, there is still the opportunity to meet with advisers and other faculty from the desired department. That is the key time to see how passionate faculty members are about what they do. I absolutely believe that a large part of college is about self-motivation. However, faculty can play a large influence on the enjoyment that can be had in the classroom. After my experiences with Open House events, I realize that there are many key factors to look for when choosing a college, and I strongly believe passion should be the most important factor of all.