Food cannot be defined as any substance that we eat or drink to survive but one that is required to live a normal life. More precisely, food supports life, sustains growth and facilitates vital metabolism, and facilitates the perpetuation of an organism, including humans. Thus, food is essential for proficient life through maintenance of body, mind, and energy and also producing healthy next generation when perpetuating.
Nature produces a diversity of foods in the form of plants, microbes, and animals. Once we start understanding the health and nutrition needs of our bodies and searching sources from nature that provide the same, it leads us to make health sense in foods and ultimately what we can call “Functional Foods”!
A nutraceutical, is a component present in food sources that can be isolated and made available in medicinal/pharmaceutical nutritional forms with demonstrable physiological benefit/ providing preventive/curative protection against disease conditions. It includes ingredients like Curcumin, Glutathione, Astaxanthin, Tocotrienol, Fenugreek, Olive oil, Omega-3 fatty acids, etc. A compendium of such ingredients that are used nutraceuticals is being launched by Expert Nutraceutical Advocacy Council (ENAC®). In conversation with Mr. Sandeep Gupta, The Nutracetuical Man of India, he mentioned “This inimitable ‘The Ultimate Compendium of Nutraceuticals, Edition 1’ is a trustworthy, easy-to-use resource for every academician, industry professionals, doctors, nutritionists, pharmacists, health professionals, health enthusiast, common consumers and literally everyone who wants to lead a healthier life”. The cover of the compendium would be revealed on The International Nutraceutical Day, 2nd September and the official launch is planned in the month of November. He said, “Everytime interacting with the Apex Regulator, the major gap and lack of reference from Industry is to represent the scientific information and evidence in a format, so why not present some facts through such compendium which might be very useful as reference point for some of Key Nutraceuticals. The entire focus in this compendium is on the Clinical Studies and Evidence for some of the very important Nutraceuticals which has evolved as most essential in management of People’s Health in both Healthy State and with Underlying Medical Conditions which can be highly value adding, and can prevent multiple complications to a larger extent with consistency. These can subside the medical condition alongside mainline therapy and may also help to improve the condition of people’s health in disease state”.
Functional foods are fast becoming a part of the meals with health benefits and better delivery across continents at a global level. Considering that, the innovations and health ingredients research efforts have led to many divergent forms of food products like medicinal foods, fortified foods, health foods, active food ingredients, food supplements, food additives, nutritional aids, and so on. However, the soul of the concept of all such products also remains the same i.e., “Adding health sense in foods”.
In an exhaustive review a decade back [Khanuja and Shukla, 2011, Human health and nutrition: Functional foods, Horticulture to Horti-Business, pp 433-445], it was highlighted to understand horticultural crops as the best examples of edible plant harvest having functional food properties with a potential to develop nutritional ingredients or supplements. The perception of horticultural crops and products only as food, pulps, and juices in various forms has to
change with developments in nutrition research. Horticultural crops are gaining importance for their metabolome capabilities to compete with conventional medicinal plants constituents for preventive health care.
Prof (Dr) Suman Preet Singh Khanuja FNASc, FNAAS ([email protected])
Innovation& Technology Mentor (Biotechnology, Agriculture, Nutrition and Healthcare) Expert, Global Executive Advisory Board of Expert Nutraceutical Advocacy Council (ENAC®)
Founder & Chairman, FloraFauna Science Foundation
Founder & Mentor, Food Innovations, SKiES India
Distinguished Professor, Bioengineering & Food Technology
Shoolini University, Solan, HP, India
Former Director, CIMAP (CSIR), (Central Institute of Medicinal & Aromatic Plants, Lucknow)