Mindful Metropolis November 2011 : Page 27

the origins Th e concept of functional foods is not a new phenomenon. It has been perfected over the years. To cull one classical example: food manufacturers began adding iodine to salt in an eff ort to prevent goiter in the early 1900s. Th is was, perhaps, the fi rst attempt man made at creating a functional food through enrichment. Eff orts are now being made to improve functional foods through organic and scientifi c means on a continual basis. Many of the foods we consume are natural, whole foods. Th ey don’t become functional foods just because we know them by that name. Functional foods are derived from ag-ricultural breeding, or through added nutri-ents and ingredients. Nature has provided us with a rich variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, fi sh, dairy and meat products. Th ey are all endowed with innumerable natural com-ponents, or nutrients. Th ey convey health benefi ts far beyond fundamental diet. Some examples are lycopene, the functional food component in tomatoes; omega-3 fatty acids in fi sh and fl axseed; and saponin in soya. What’s more, the nutritional content of certain crops are also used to bring about benefi cial traits in plants and animals. Two examples are beta-carotene-rich rice and vi-tamin-enhanced soybeans. Yes, there are sev-eral other examples of fortifi ed foods avail-able in the market. Orange juice, for instance, is fortifi ed with calcium. Likewise, cereals and fl our with added vitamins or minerals or folic acid are also available. Th ere is, of course, no single functional food “potion” that can cure, or prevent health aff ections. Th e best and easiest thing for us to do is quite simple, eat a balanced and varied diet. Th is should include at least 4 to 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, as well as foods with added benefi cial com-ponents. You’d also do well to read labels and scan through what experts advocate by way of articles in the media. However, before you decide on making any major dietary chang-es, you need to take adequate time to weigh in your personal health and supplemental needs with your physician or therapist. efi ts in both health maintenance and medi-cal treatment. Having evolved on a truly scientifi c pedes-tal, broadly based on one of medical science’s most wholesome dimensions—the study of uses followed by results—nutraceuticals also stand up to stringent evaluation assessed on measurable scientifi c parameters. You can call them super-smart nutrients, because nutraceuticals seem to know just where to act in the body —and, bring back that great sense of balance to your entire being. eVeryDAy MirAcLes • Tomatoes are evidenced to cut the threat of deadly prostate cancer by nearly half. • a small dose of the vitamin folic acid can prevent dreadful and common birth defects. • eating fi sh or supplementing your diet with fi sh oils helps your body’s estrogen levels dramatically alter in favor of the most protective, anti-cancer form of estrogen. • broccoli can cause a powerful change in estrogen balance and prevent cancer. • Fish-oil capsules taken for just 12 to 14 weeks notably slow down the growth of colon tumors. • Olive oil lowers the risk of breast cancer and also heart disease. • green tea can cut the risk of heart attacks. • a study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that subjects consuming fl axseed for four weeks not only increased their levels of omega-3 fatty acids, but also reduced their cholesterol by 9 percent and their blood glucose by 27 percent. • a study from new york university showed that red clover had about 30 times the amount of natural estrogen as soybean, a natural hormone balancer. red clover also seemed to ease hot fl ashes in menopausal women. • The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology reports that the plant pigment quercetin appears to possess the highest amount of natural anti-allergic activity. • Studies have found that probiotics may be helpful for people with irritable Bowel syndrome (iBs). Good examples fortifi ed foods: Th ese are items such as breakfast cereals with added vitamins and min-erals like iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and folic acid. vitamin and mineral supplements: Nutraceuticals: simple, smart and effective Nutraceuticals form a great range of supple-ments such as vitamins, herbs, minerals, amino acids, phytochemicals, and so on, which can be used to treat a variety of prob-lems, chronic or otherwise. Th ey are also the most adaptable, besides providing the most promising, tangible ben-Th ese are available as separate supplements, or as a combination product with varied amounts of diff erent compounds. additional supplements: Th ese are supplements other than vitamins and min-erals. Th ey are suggested to have a benefi cial eff ect on health. Examples are fi sh oil, garlic, chromium picolinate, echinacea, primrose oil, ginkgo, quercetin, glucosamine, co-enzyme Q10 and so on. Probiotics: Th ese are foods that contain “good” bacteria to improve health. One ex-ample is yogurt, which contains lactobacil-lus, a bacteria that is suggested to improve gut health and also reduce the incidence of heart disease and certain forms of cancer. Foods to reduce cholesterol: One good example is spirulina. Another is licorice; both are evidenced to lower cholesterol. Th e ideal thing to do, again, is to eat smart-ly, and follow a healthy dietary regimen with appropriate dietary supplements or nutra-ceuticals like fi sh oils, green tea, gingko bi-loba, garlic, bilberry, fl axseed, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, glutamine, magnesium, licorice, quercetin, probiotics (the “good” bacteria, found in yogurt, or curd) and red clover that take care of your unique individu-al requirements and needs. Speak to your physician, therapist/health-care professional or nutritionist/dietician, on the use of functional foods, including ap-propriate supplements, their intake and/or dosage to lead a life fi lled with optimal health and well-being. Rajgopal Nidamboor is a natural/integra-tive health/medicine and well-being physi-cian based in Mumbai, India. For more of his writing, visit health-prism.com; upanishabd. com; and wordoscope.com. mInDFULmeTroPoLIS.Com 27

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