Quantifying stress dampening
and stress protective effects of food
Substantiation of health claims
Stress related disorders, such as burnout, sleep disorders, cognitive disturbances, and pain are among the mostfrequent determinants of impaired well-being and missing days at work. Such disorders are classified as subthreshold disorders, since the respective people do not yet fulfill criteria for clinical diagnoses and pharmacological treatment. Thus,these subjects constitute a target group for alternatives, such as nutraceuticals, functional food, food supplements, dairyproducts, etc., suited to dampen or prevent the health damaging effects of stress. However, stress responses vary broadlyamong individuals, mostly in consequence of gene x environment interactions, age, gender, and the intensity and chronicity of stressors. Differences in the complex intraindividual interplay of such factors account for a broad interindividualheterogeneity of stress vulnerability. Consequently, trials for health claims should include well elaborated hypotheses, suitedexperimental protocols (e.g. randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled), and a careful selection of sensitive outcome measures. We here present two methodological strategies, which allow to discriminate and uncover a variety ofpsychobiological mechanisms, which constitute the stress response under acute (laboratory) and chronic (field) conditions.Furthermore, we provide examples, how these methods can serve to generate data for successful health claims.