The term ‘nutraceutical’ is an amalgamation of the terms ‘nutrition’ and ‘pharmaceutical’. It includes the marquee of products that are not only consumed as food items but can provide certain benefits in medical aspects as well, when consumed properly. Dietary supplements, beverages, herbal products, and so on come under commonly used nutraceuticals. Regular use of suitable products can offer physiological benefits, and help prevent the risk of certain chronic diseases. Let’s have a detailed insight of the same.
What are Nutraceuticals?
Nutraceuticals can be defined as the products that are derived from natural food sources with the aim of providing both medical benefits as well as nutrition to your body. People belonging to South-Asian nations have been relying on traditional foods and herbs for various health benefits. You can say that nutraceutical products are more advanced, well-researched forms of these foods.
Did You Know? Dr. Stephen DeFelice created the term “Nutraceutical” from the words “Nutrition” and “Pharmaceutical” in 1989.
These products are gaining popularity in recent times for their ability to enhance health, delay ageing, support your body’s functioning, increase expectancy, and prevent chronic health conditions. The classification of nutraceuticals can be done on the basis of their food sources, function, and some bioactive components. The broad classification is as follows:
1. Dietary Supplements
Dietary supplements can be said to be concentrated forms of nutrients that are processed into different dosage sizes. These offer the goodness of vitamins and minerals, herbs, amino acids, certain enzymes, and other essential metabolites like glutamic acid, lactic acid, and so on.
2. Functional Foods
Most individuals think of nutraceutical meaning as only dietary supplements. However, there’s more to them. In addition to dietary supplements, you can rely on functional foods that support your aim to achieve good health in addition to providing all the necessary macronutrients and micronutrients. You can add foods like omega 3 rich salmon, lycopene rich tomatoes, and other healthy foods to your diet. These are called traditional functional foods. You can also rely on non-traditional functional foods such as calcium fortified juice or iron fortified cereal, and so on.
Benefits and Uses of Nutraceuticals
Now that you have learnt about nutraceutical definition, let’s move on to their benefits. They can benefit your body’s biological procedures, prevent several diseases, and improve overall well-being. Some of the health benefits of consuming nutraceuticals are as follows:
1. Prevention of Chronic Illnesses
The intake of nutraceutical tablets and other forms of the same can aid the prevention of the onset of certain chronic diseases. There are several studies that suggest the use of these can be useful for the prevention as well as treatment of conditions like cardiovascular diseases, obesity, diabetes, inflammatory-based diseases, and even cancer.
2. Eye Health Improvement
Age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and other visual disorders can benefit from the use of nutraceuticals. Vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein, and zeaxanthin help with reduced risk of cataracts, and omega 3 fatty acids ensure proper retinal function as well as visual development.
3. Enhancement of the Immune Function
Regular nutraceutical tablet uses can provide the goodness of immunity boosters like blueberries, green tea, vitamin D, and amino acids. Certain herbs can support the development as well as regeneration of stem cells, and can also help reduce inflammation.
Other uses of these nutritional supplements and health foods may include:
- Reproductive health maintenance
- Improvement of digestive system health
- Mental health support
- Prevention of inflammation
Experts’ Advice: Unhealthy lifestyle choices like smoking or excessive consumption of alcohol may lead to an increased susceptibility to diseases and reduce the effectiveness of nutraceuticals.
Safety Considerations when Consuming Nutraceuticals
The consumption of nutraceuticals is considered to be likely safe for healthy individuals. However, there are certain things you should consider when consuming the same. Some of the important points that you should keep in mind include:
- Make sure that you stick to the recommended dosage based on your requirements. Exceeding the same may lead to certain harmful effects.
- You should thoroughly go through the list of ingredients mentioned on the product package, and check for any allergens that may be present.
- Pay attention to your body’s reaction upon usage of a particular product. Discontinue its usage if you face any adverse effects.
- Make sure that you do not use these products as a substitute for a healthy and well-balanced diet. Rather, make use of their nutritional content to balance out your meal properly.
- You can consider consulting your healthcare provider before using the same. This can help you determine the particular product’s suitability, recommended intake amounts, and potential risk factors.
The nutritional as well as safety profile of nutraceutical products is highly useful for the ongoing demand for natural health solutions. Therefore by incorporation of these products in your balanced diet and healthy lifestyle, you can ensure optimisation of your nutritional intake and improve your overall health.