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Miss Apoorva Bhatnagar1, Dr. S. C. Mahajan2
1Mahakal institute of pharmaceutical studies,  
2Director at Mahakal Institute of Pharmaceutical Studies,
Ujjain (m.p.)  456010

Foods and food habits in today’s lifestyle have lead to the disturbances in an ideally nutritionally balanced body. Therefore in such state if “food be your medicine” then it would be great to achieve a healthy body and mind. The article covers major food products and nutraceuticals and their role they play in human health.


Nutraceutical, a portmanteau of the words “nutrition” and “pharmaceutical”, is a food or food product that reportedly provides health and medical benefits, including the prevention and treatment of disease. Health Canada defines the term as "a product isolated or purified from foods that is generally sold in medicinal forms not usually associated with food. A nutraceutical is demonstrated to have a physiological benefit or provide protection against chronic disease." Such products may range from isolated nutrients, dietary supplements and specific diets to genetically engineered foods, herbal products, and processed foods such as cereals, soups, and beverages.

Meaning of the term neutraceutical:
The definition of nutraceutical that appears in the latest edition of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is as  follows: A food stuff (as a fortified food or a dietary supplement) that provides health benefits.]1. Nutraceutical foods are not subject to  the  same  testing  and  regulations  as  pharmaceutical  drugs. Some of the pharmaceutical and biotech companies, which commit major resources to the discovery of nutraceuticals  include  Monsanto,  American  Home  Products,  Dupont,  BioCorrex,  Abbott Laboratories, Warner-Lambert,  Johnson  & Johnson,  Novartis,  Metabolex, Scio-tech, Genzyme Transgenic, PPL Therapeutics, Unigen, and Interneuron. American association of nutritional chemist mentioned nutraceuticals as products that has been isolated or  purified  from  food  and generally solved in medicinal  forms not usually  associated with food1. When food is been cooked or prepared using "scientific intelligence" with or without knowledge of how or why it is being used, the food is called functional food.]3.

History and development:
The term nutraceutical was originally defined by Dr. Stephen L. DeFelice, founder and chairman of the Foundation of Innovation Medicine (FIM), Crawford, New Jersey in 1989 from the two words "nutrition" and "pharmaceuticals". Since the term was coined by Dr. DeFelice, its meaning has been modified by Health Canada which defines nutraceutical as: a product isolated or purified from foods, and generally sold in medicinal forms not usually associated with food and demonstrated to have a physiological benefit or provide protection against chronic disease.Examples are beta-carotene and lycopene.]1

Nutraceuticals or functional foods can be classified on the basis of their natural sources, pharmacological conditions or as per chemical constitution of the products. On the basis of natural source it can be classified as the products obtained from plants, animals, minerals or microbial sources.]1The classification of nutraceuticals based upon its therapeutical utility for the treatment or prevention of specific condition may produce a big list. Some of the important conditions in which the nutraceuticals are specially directed for its treatment, prevention or support is given as:
1 Allergy relief- Ginkgo biloba
2 Arthritis support -Glucosamine
3 Cancer prevention -Flax seeds, green tea
4 Cardiac diseases -Garlic
5 Cholesterol lowering -Garlic
6 Digestive support -Digestive enzymes
7 Diabetic support -Garlic, momordica
8 Female hormone support Black conosh, false unicorn
9 Immunomodulators -Ginseng
10 Prostate support -Tomato lycopene

A  systematic  classification  on  the  basis  of  therapeutically  important  compounds  of  the nutraceuticals products responsible for the specific health benefit can be done as given in:
1 Inorganic mineral supplements Minerals
2 Vitamin supplements Vitamins
3 Digestive enzymes Enzymes
4 Probiotics-Lactobacillus, Acidophilus
5 Prebiotics- Digestive enzymes
6 Dietary fibers- Fibers,Cereals and grains Fibers,Health drinks Fiber
7 Antioxidants -Natural antioxidants
8 Phytochemicals
9 Polysaccharides- Arabinogalactan
10 Isoprenoids- Carotenoids
11 Flavonoids- Bioflavanoids
12 Phenolic- Tea polyphenols
13 Fatty acids- Omega-3-fatty acids
14 Lipids- Spingolipids
15 Proteins- Soya proteins
16 Herbs as a functional foods- Soya proteins

Inorganic Mineral Supplements
Large number of elements control variety of physiological and biochemical functions of human body. Most of these minerals are provided through the diet but their deficiency in diet may develop variety of health related problems and diseases.]4

Calcium-Calcium is an important element in the treatment of decalcification of bone. Calcium deficiency is found in 25% of women, even though much higher percentages have osteopenia or osteoporosis. Prepuberty is the best time to begin supplementing the diet with calcium rich minerals along with exercise regimen. Sufficient intake of calcium and vitamin D post menopausally can significantly reduce the risk for fracture.

Magnesium-Magnesium is an essential element involved in various enzymatic processes and critical in the proper use and maintenance of calcium. Many individuals with calcium deficiency are actually magnesium deficient which prevent proper use of calcium.

Manganese-Manganese is required in several enzymatic reactions and necessary for proper bone and cartilage formation.

Boron-Boron is reported to be helpful in supporting the calcium and estrogen level in post-menopausal in women.

Copper-Copper is an essential element needed by all tissues in the body. Copper and Zinc  must be in proper formation. Copper is best absorbed when bound to an amino acids.

Zinc-Zinc is one of the most important  trace  mineral. Zinc supports the bodies overall antioxidant system by scavenging free radicals. It also performs many other vital functions.

Phosphorous-Phosphorous important in maintaining  bone  structure  and  modulating  plasma and bone formation.

Silicon-Silicon is concentrated in the active growth areas of bone. It influences both for bone formation and calcification.

Digestive Enzymes-
Much of the reflux is not caused by increased production of acid in the stomach but from poor digestion because of too little acid. As we grow older stomach cells responsible for acid production diminishes, this in turn slows the transit time of food in the stomach causing reflux of food from the esophagus. So we have to use a variety of digestive enzymes to help absorption and digestion of food materials. There are animals as well as plant derived digestive enzymes.The principle digestive enzyme in the pepsin, present in the gastric juices, which helps in the digestion of proteins. It is obtained from the glandular layer of fresh stomach of hog, Sus scrofa var domesticus of family suidae. Pancreatin, an enzyme obtained from pancrease of certain animals like hog (sus scrofa) family suidae or Ox bostaurus of family Bovidae. It is employed as digestive aid for converting starch into dextrin and sugar. Each gram contains not less than 12,000 units of amylase activity, 1000 units of protease activity and 15,000 unit lipase activities. Another important digestive enzyme of animal origin is Trypsin obtained from mammalian pancreas like Ox bostaurus of family Bovidae, Chymotrypsin also obtained from the same source. Urokinase. fibrinolysin, deoxy-ribonuclease, streptokinase are the other animal derived digestive enzymes.Papain, the plant proteolytic enzyme obtained from Carica papaya fruits has anti-inflammatory activity. BROMELAIN derived from stem and fruits of pineapple plant Ananas. Comosus of family Bromeliaceae are used for the treatment of tissue inflammation and edema due to surgery and injury.]5

Dietary fibers-
Dietary fibers play critical role in keeping good health in human individuals and animals. They are rich in antioxidants. Fibers are those part of the plant, leaves, stem, fruits and seeds.]1

There are two types of fibres
1. Water soluble
2. Water insoluble

The water insoluble fibres absorb water to a certain extend and mainly contribute to bulking of stool and allows quick passage of water through the alimentary canal.Soluble fibres get dissolved in water and forms a gel that binds the stool, also slows down the absorption of glucose action and reduce blood cholesterol level.]6

It has been recommended that about 30-40 gm. of dietary fiber should be consumed daily in order to obtain significant health benefits. The main sources of water insoluble fibres include whole grain cereals, whole wheat products, brown rice and fruits and vegetables with the peels. Sources of water soluble fibres are oats, dried beans, legumes lentils, fruits and vegetables. Some of the processed food marketed in the form of the soluble fibres are breads, breakfast cereals, high fiber beverages.Cereals and grains are largely used throughout the worked as the major food material. These can be used in the entire form and sprouted cereals and grains in this milled form. These cereals and grains are rich in normal food nutrients, vitamins minerals and specific phytochemicals. Cereals and grains helps in calcium fortification, maintaining healthy heart and a healthy immune system. Breads of soya flour and linseed provides phyto estrogenic natural substances that mimic the structure of the hormone estrogen.The sprouts are known for this powerful nutritive and healing properties, they are the best "living food" because they contain high proportion of proteins and essential amino acids needed for normal growth of human being. Many sprouted seeds such as those of alfalfa and sunflower contain all the essential amino acid in their 'free state'. Sprouting increases the vitamin content of a seed dramatically. Sprouts reduce inflammation lower fever and tone the body.



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