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Engineering Digestion: Multiscale Processes of Food Digestion

  • Author(s): Bornhorst, GM
  • Gouseti, O
  • Wickham, MSJ
  • Bakalis, S
  • et al.
Abstract

© 2016 Institute of Food Technologists®. Food digestion is a complex, multiscale process that has recently become of interest to the food industry due to the developing links between food and health or disease. Food digestion can be studied by using either in vitro or in vivo models, each having certain advantages or disadvantages. The recent interest in food digestion has resulted in a large number of studies in this area, yet few have provided an in-depth, quantitative description of digestion processes. To provide a framework to develop these quantitative comparisons, a summary is given here between digestion processes and parallel unit operations in the food and chemical industry. Characterization parameters and phenomena are suggested for each step of digestion. In addition to the quantitative characterization of digestion processes, the multiscale aspect of digestion must also be considered. In both food systems and the gastrointestinal tract, multiple length scales are involved in food breakdown, mixing, absorption. These different length scales influence digestion processes independently as well as through interrelated mechanisms. To facilitate optimized development of functional food products, a multiscale, engineering approach may be taken to describe food digestion processes. A framework for this approach is described in this review, as well as examples that demonstrate the importance of process characterization as well as the multiple, interrelated length scales in the digestion process.

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