Nutraceuticals, let food be your medicine
The term “nutraceutical” is used to name any food or food derivative with benefits for the health, additional to its nutritional value. They are expected to serve as a stimulant to our general well- being, prevention of diseases and conditions affecting health and control of the symptoms common to this kind of process, a slowing down of the ageing process and an increase in life expectancy as well as a support to the body´s functions and integrity.
The semantics of “nutraceuticals” derives from “nutrition” and “therapeutic” or “pharmaceutical”, signifying an ancestral concept such as obtaining and preserving health through nutrition; Hippocrates of Cos (460-370 BC), the father of medicine, whose legacy is based on the idea that food plays a crucial part in our health gave us the celebrated phrase “Let your medicine be your food, and your food be your medicine”.
This term encompasses natural products ranging from herbs and derivatives to pure foods, isolated nutrients, natural dietary supplements and specific diets.”
From this conceptual basis, the aforementioned term was proposed in 1989 by Dr. Stephen DeFelice, President of the Foundation for Innovation in medicine (FIM. DeFelice defined nutraceuticals as “Food or part of a food that provides medical or health benefits, including the prevention and / or treatment of diseases”.
Categories of nutraceuticals
This term encompasses natural products ranging from herbs and derivatives to pure foods, isolated nutrients, natural dietary supplements and specific diets.
Thus, the following categories of nutraceuticals can be established: functional foods, medicinal foods, dietary supplements and “Farmaceuticals”.
This is a whole or fortified food with the potential to reduce the risk of chronic diseases and generally provide a health benefit beyond the nutrients it contain.
When a functional food actualizes its potential to enhance health and prevent disease, it is a full nutraceutical.
Food supplements or dietary supplements
As the name implies, they are products that complement diet by contributing beneficial elements in order to cover deficiencies. They are usually provided in the form of a pill, capsule or liquid, not as food. Their regulation is different from that of food and medicines.
Not all food supplements can be considered nutraceuticals, only those composed of substances of natural origin.”
These are formulated to be consumed orally or as enteric coated tablets administered under the supervision of a doctor and intended for the specific dietary management of a disease or disorder for which, following medical evaluation, distinctive nutritional requirements based on recognized scientific principles have been established.
Medically valuable components produced from modified agricultural crops or animals. The term is a combination of the English words “farm” and “pharmaceuticals”.
Proponents of this concept are convinced that the use of crops (and even animals) as pharmaceutical factories is much more cost-effective than conventional methods.
Perspectiva de los nutracéuticos
Los nutracéuticos generan creciente interés merced a su amplio margen de seguridad, su base nutricional y su utilidad terapéutica. Podrían tener un papel en una plétora de procesos biológicos, incluyendo las defensas antioxidantes, la proliferación celular, la expresión epigenética (actualización del potencial de nuestros genes mediante los buenos hábitos) y la salvaguardia de la integridad mitocondrial.
Los nutracéuticos son alimentos o partes de un alimento que proporcionan beneficios médicos o para la salud, incluyendo la prevención y/o tratamiento de enfermedades.”
Se ha demostrado que una amplia gama de nutracéuticos tienen una influencia positiva importante en el estado inmune y la susceptibilidad a ciertos estados de enfermedad. También presentan beneficios probados en relación con el estrés oxidativo, el control de las alergias, el Alzheimer, enfermedades cardiovasculares, el cáncer, enfermedades oculares, enfermedades de Parkinson, la diabetes y la obesidad.
Potential benefits for health
Nutraceuticals are generating increasing interest thanks to their wide safety margin, their nutritional base and therapeutic usefulness. They could play a role in a plethora of biological processes, including antioxidant defences, cell proliferation, epigenetic expression (updating our gene potential through good habits) and safeguarding mitochondrial integrity.
The semantics of “nutraceuticals” derives from “nutrition” and “therapeutic” or “pharmaceutical”, signifying an ancestral concept such as obtaining and preserving health through nutrition.”
It has been proven that a wide range of nutraceuticals have an important positive influence on the immune status and susceptibility to certain disease states. They also possess proven benefits in relation to oxidative stress, control of allergies, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, eye diseases, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and obesity.