What are nutraceuticals?
These are any foods or isolated food component which provides a health benefit beyond basic nutrition. Basic nutrition is your protein, carbohydrates and fat. Proteins break down into amino acids and they make up for your muscle mass. Fats and carbohydrates are used for your metabolism, ie, if you have lower energy, somebody tells you to have a banana. You may think that, how can having a banana help me, if I have a disease? Well, it is not the banana, it is what’s inside it. These foods have components in them which could be vital for human health. There is enough evidence from human trials that show us, having certain foods will help lower your cholesterol levels in the body, reduce the inflammation.
These food components can be classified in four major groups.
Fatty acids: Everyone, at some point or the other is guilty of consuming fish oil tablets. These fish oil tablets contain omega three fatty acids. Before it was commercially available in the tablet form, it was to be consumed directly. However, vegetarians would not run down to the pharmacy to buy cod liver oil tablets. Recently walnut oil tablets and krill oil tablets have been developed as options for these fatty acids. Unlike the pharmaceutical industry, the nutraceuticals provide us with options so that we can choose what we want to consume.
Bio Active Peptides: These components can reduce blood pressure and inflammation. They are developed from easily available sources like milk, chicken muscles and fish muscles. However if you are a vegetarian, you may not choose to indulge in any of these. Seaweed peptides are a good substitute for them.
Micro nutrients: This group includes all the major vitamins and micronutrients like iron, calcium etc.
Phytochemicals: If they come from plants, they are phytochemicals. Curcumin from turmeric, B-carotene developed from micro algae and carrots.
These are the four groups of nutraceuticals. Now, it might seem straightforward to just go acquire a pill and swallow it but how do you know this pill works? There are several factors that come into play
- Bio accessibility: It means how easily the component can get out of the source you consume, it can be a pill, and it can be food.
- Solubility: Solubility is how easily it is soluble in your gastrointestinal tract. Most of the time, our gastrointestinal tract comprises of water but in some cases, there can alcohol, there can be fat and the solubility of these components depends on these.
- Degradation and metabolism: Our body breaks things down. When it sees a protein, it eats it up and builds new things. When it sees fats, break things down and sends it to different parts.
- Intestinal permeation: We are talking about how much of these bioactive components will pass through the intestinal walls and get into the bloodstream.
How does Neutraceuticals work?
Neutraceuticals extend a chance at improving our health. They provide us additional nutritional benefits. Let’s assume your natural diet is not supplying your body with the nutrients it needs, that’s where nutraceuticals can be of aid. If you are an athlete or someone who exerts more than the regular person, your body will require a larger number of nutrients. The human body basically break down these nutrients in your food to produce energy. Having the right amount of nutrients in the body will accelerate our recovery time and improve our metabolism.
What is the difference between Neutraceuticals and Pharmaceuticals?
Pharmaceuticals are manmade imitations of a natural substance needed by the body to prevent or fight disease. The most important difference between the two is regulation.
It is recommended that you consume pharmaceuticals under the guidance of a doctor. However, in contrast, neutraceuticals do not require a prescription or medical supervision.
What are the differences between neutraceuticals and functional foods?
It is not necessary that neutraceuticals have to be an isolated vitamin or nutrient, it can also be a whole food. This whole food is packaged and commercial available in a non food format such as a capsule. Nutraceutical foods include carrot, beetroot etc.
Functional foods are whole foods which have the capability in enrich human health if consumed effectively with a regular diet. Functional foods tend to come in the form of snacks, power bars, drinks and more. Examples for functional food include probiotic curd, protein bar etc.
Benefits of nutraceuticals:
- Improves overall health: Nutraceuticals improve the overall health and well being of the individual.
- Reduce the risk of diseases: Health has become out utmost priority and instead of try to battle diseases, nutraceuticals are our first step at preventing them. Cancer, alzeimers, and allergies are some of the diseases nutraceuticals assist in preventing.
- Increase longevity: Nutraceuticals as a preventive measure can improve our life expectancy.
- Assist your body functions
The nutraceutical industry has been growing in popularity in the recent years. Here are some of the emerging trends
- Cosmetics: People like the idea of consuming a pill to slow down the ageing process. Millenials are the best market for these products. Usually men are not the target for beauty products but the rise in nutraceuticals are quite evident in men’s skincare.
- Nutraceuticals for pets: Pets are treated as part of the family. These four legged companions are given supplements to improve their overall health and people are looking in the direction of nutraceuticals.
- Sports nutrition: To improve athletic ability, athletes and coaches are looking to adopt innovative methods.