Functional Foods, Dietary supplements and Nutraceuticals Notes
Definition Functional Foods
Functional food can be defined as any food that exerts health properties beyond the traditional nutrients it contains. If the functional food helps in the prevention of a disease or its treatment it can be called ‘nutraceutical’.
Generally, functional food can give its user some specified or predetermined amount of effective nutrients like vitamins, fats, proteins, carbohydrates, fibres etc, needed for our growth, development and maintenance of health.
Types of Functional foods
i) Foods that naturally contain biologically active, non-nutrient compounds known as phytochemicals that provide health benefits. All plant foods are rich in phytochemicals.
ii) Food products specifically formulated to have higher amounts of nutrients or phytochemicals than would naturally occur in that food. These are also called “designer foods.”
Designer foods, also known as functional foods, are foods that have been specifically designed to provide additional health benefits beyond basic nutrition. These foods are usually fortified with vitamins, minerals, or other ingredients that are believed to promote health or prevent disease. Some common examples of designer foods include:
Fortified cereals: Cereals that are fortified with vitamins and minerals, such as iron, folic acid, and calcium, are a common example of designer foods. These cereals are marketed as a way to promote healthy growth and development, especially in children.
Omega-3 enriched foods: Foods that are enriched with omega-3 fatty acids, such as certain types of milk, eggs, and bread, are marketed as a way to improve heart health and cognitive function.
Probiotic foods: Probiotic foods, such as yogurt and other fermented foods, are marketed as a way to improve gut health and boost the immune system.
Plant sterol-enriched foods: Foods that are enriched with plant sterols, such as certain types of margarine and orange juice, are marketed as a way to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Gluten-free foods: Gluten-free foods are designed for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, and are marketed as a way to promote digestive health.
While designer foods can provide additional health benefits, it is important to remember that a balanced and varied diet is still the best way to promote health and prevent disease. It is also important to be aware of the potential risks and side effects of consuming certain fortified foods, such as excess vitamin and mineral intake. As with any dietary change, it is best to consult a healthcare professional before adding designer foods to your diet.
Phytochemicals are natural compounds found in plants that are believed to provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition. These compounds are often found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other plant-based foods. Some examples of phytochemicals include:
Carotenoids: These are pigments that give fruits and vegetables their bright colors. Carotenoids are believed to have antioxidant properties and may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as cancer and heart disease.
Flavonoids: These are a group of compounds found in fruits, vegetables, tea, and red wine. Flavonoids are believed to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as cancer and heart disease.
Resveratrol: This is a compound found in grapes, peanuts, and berries, and is believed to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Resveratrol may help reduce the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer.
Sulforaphane: This is a compound found in broccoli, cauliflower, and other cruciferous vegetables. Sulforaphane is believed to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and may help reduce the risk of cancer.
Phytochemicals are increasingly being recognized as functional foods, as they have the potential to provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition. In addition to the examples listed above, there are many other phytochemicals that have been studied for their potential health benefits. While more research is needed to fully understand the health benefits of phytochemicals, adding a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other plant-based foods to your diet is a great way to incorporate these beneficial compounds into your diet.
Examples of Functional foods
• Cereals and bread with added isoflavones.
• Fruit juices with herbs that have alleged immune-enhancing properties, such as Echinacea.
• Margarine with added phytosterols, which help to reduce cholesterol.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Functional Foods
Some functional foods make it easier to meet requirements for nutrients that are often deficient in the diets. The addition of calcium to orange juice and the B-vitamin folate to enriched flour are examples. Some functional foods make it possible to achieve higher intakes of nutrients or phytochemicals than would be realistic with natural food sources of these compounds.
Moderate amounts of manufactured functional foods can provide some benefits to the diet and may
help to reduce disease risk. However, they don’t offer any benefits over well-planned diets based on whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Eating foods that are naturally rich in a wide array of phytochemicals makes good nutrition sense, though. The best approach to dietary planning is to use functional foods
in moderation in addition to a healthful diet.
Functional foods that contain added nutrients or phytochemicals may send confusing messages about how to plan healthful diets. Calcium-fortified orange juice is an improvement in food that is already healthful. Calcium-fortified candy or fibre-enriched white bread, on the other hand, involves the addition of beneficial substances to foods that are otherwise devoid of healthful properties.
The term ‘nutraceutical product’ was coined by the Foundation for Innovation in Medicine (FIM) in 1991.
FIM defined a nutraceutical product as ‘any substance that may be considered a food or part of a food that provides medical or health benefits including the prevention and treatment of disease’.
Nutraceutical products may range from isolated nutrients, dietary supplements and specific diets to genetically engineered designer foods, herbal products and processed foods such as cereals, soups and beverages
The ingredients of nutraceuticals include trace elements, minerals, vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, amino acids etc. Many diseases are believed to have a close relation with nutrients and food supplements. Proteins are essential in building body and making it fit. Basically protein and protein supplements are required in building muscles. However overdose of protein is not good and can
even cause harm to kidneys.
Dietary supplements are also called food supplements or nutritional supplements. They are designed to provide nutrients that are missing in our daily diet. In different countries, dietary supplements are classified differently.
In some countries, they are categorized under foods whilst in some as drugs.
Dietary supplements also include non-medicinal herbal supplements and hormones like pregnenolone and melatonin.
Generally, a dietary supplement contains ingredients like vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs, concentrate, metabolite, extract, or combinations. Dietary supplements are also used to
increase the performance of athletes and sports players.
Food supplements are the best way to get our daily dose of vitamins and minerals especially in
children. Vegetarian diet often lacks vitamin B12, hence Vitamin B12 supplement is useful for the vegetarians
Dietary supplements are products that are intended to supplement the diet and provide additional nutrients or other beneficial compounds that may be lacking in a person’s diet. There are many different types of dietary supplements, including:
Vitamins: Vitamins are essential nutrients that the body needs in small amounts to function properly. There are 13 essential vitamins, including vitamin A, C, D, E, K, and the B vitamins.
Minerals: Minerals are inorganic substances that the body needs in small amounts to function properly. Examples of minerals include calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium.
Probiotics: Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial for digestive health. They can be found in certain foods or taken as supplements.
Herbal supplements: Herbal supplements are products made from plants or plant extracts that are believed to have health benefits. Examples of herbal supplements include echinacea, ginseng, and St. John’s wort.
Amino acids: Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, which are essential for growth and repair of tissues in the body. Some amino acids are also used to make neurotransmitters, which are important for brain function.
Enzymes: Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions in the body. Digestive enzymes are used to break down food in the digestive tract, while systemic enzymes are used to support various metabolic processes in the body.
Essential fatty acids: Essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 and omega-6, are important for brain function, heart health, and other bodily functions. They can be obtained through the diet or taken as supplements.
Fiber: Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot digest. It is important for digestive health and can be found in many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Fiber supplements are also available.
It is important to note that dietary supplements are not intended to replace a healthy diet, but rather to supplement it. It is always recommended to speak with a healthcare provider before adding any new dietary supplements to your routine.
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