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Emulsion structure in relation to sensory and and digestive functionality
Food is essential to provide the nutritional support for the body and is almost always of plant or animal origin. However, consumer acceptance and bioavailability of the food materials is greatly increased by processing the raw food materials into a broad range of food structures.
Being the portal of the gastrointestinal tract, the mouth is functional for testing the safety and expected nutritional value, pleasure and possible toxicity of the food and to prepare the food in the form of a slippery, smooth bolus that does no longer contain large solid structures that are difficult to digest or become stuck in the gastrointestinal tract, or sharp objects that could penetrate the mucous epithelial surfaces of the gastro intestinal tract. During oral processing, the food is broken up into pieces and mixed with saliva, during which tastants and aromas are released and detected. The swallowing reflex occurs when a sufficiently smooth cohesive bolus is formed that can be easily swallowed and passed to the esophagus without the risk of food material entering the windpipe. Once swallowed, the bolus enters the gastrointestinal tract, which is a very efficient machinery to extract the required nutrients in a safely absorbable form. The gastrointestinal tract is organized in such a way that the food is stored in the stomach, from which it is gradually released at a controlled rate into the intestine, where a large assembly of chemicals (emulsifiers, enzymes) is activated and the residence time is regulated to ensure an efficient digestion and absorption of the food. Gastrointestinal receptors continuously monitor the remaining nutrient availability, which translates into signals that control food intake.
Some of these oral and gastro-intestinal processes are consciously perceived and described as oral texture, flavor, taste, fullness and hunger. Altogether, perception, intake and bioavailability of the food materials are highly dependent not only on the structure and composition of the food before intake, but especially also on the behavior during oral and gastro-intestinal processing.
Nevertheless, in spite of the high level of control by the intricate machinery of our body, the highly digestible and sensorial attractiveness of modern food, in combination with a sedate lifestyle, can lead to health problems. Of particularly concern is the metabolic syndrome, which encompasses a number of appearances such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Since caloric over-consumption of especially sugars and fats in the diet seems to be the main food-driver of metabolic syndrome, there is an urgent need to reduce the caloric intake from these components.
Two recent TIFN projects have been focusing on the food emulsion side of this issue, one related to the role of emulsified fat on sensory perception, and one focusing on emulsion digestion. This presentation will o
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