Functional Nutrition and Functional Foods
If you have not heard of Functional nutrition yet, where have you been? Let's start with the knowledge of what it really means.
What is Functional Nutrition
Functional nutrition means nutrition that is related to the field of functional medicine. Functional medicine is personalized medicine dealing with primary prevention and underlying causes instead of dealing with medicines. Most doctors try to address the symptoms and not the causes. The root cause is often in the anatomy and the physiology of the body. Whether you want to learn the technicalities of the functional medicine or not, it always helps to get down to the cause of any ailment.
Now, one term which is important to know is Functional foods. Functional foods may be of two types:
2. Fortified foods
For example, Omega 3s are important to support good heart health. You could use conventional foods like Flax seeds, and orange juice as a rich source of omega 3 or omega3 fortified eggs that have the added advantage of being a source of essential amino acids. Similarly, plant sterols aid the heart because they reduce cholesterol absorption in the body. Your source of plant sterols could be conventional foods like Wheat germ and peanuts or a plant sterol-fortified low-fat milk. Calcium is another popular nutrient to look at. It is good for bones and growth. It can be found in pastas and a glass of milk.
But what do these functional foods contain? They contain Functional ingredients, of course. A functional ingredient is a bioactive compound that can be found in functional food products. These compounds can come from various sources such as organic or inorganic materials. They can also be obtained from processing natural foods. Many of these ingredients undergo advanced techniques to recover the compounds. The methods depend on the nature of the source. Traditional techniques could be solvent and water-based extraction, filtration, distillation, and evaporation. Advanced ones can be as complex as the Bioactive dehydration technique.
How to Follow a functional nutrition eating strategy
There is no single functional nutrition diet. It has to be customized to the respective person. There are a few principles to follow though:
#1 Supplement your body with nutrients
Vitamins, Minerals and other nutrients are required by your body. Providing a daily dose of these helps keep you fit.#2 Watch where the food comes from
Be aware of what your food contains. Pesticides, GMO, etc are constantly part of many of the products being sold today. It is better to buy these only from trusted places.#3 Observe the food quality
Food is fuel to your body. Processed and junk food compromises your system every day.#4 Maintain a healthy gut
Our digestive system has to be prepared to process what you feed your body. Your immunity heavily depends on your gut. Most infections, inflammations and hormonal imbalances are triggered by the gut.#5 Maintain good bacteria for digestion
Healthy digestion is supported by the right microbes which you can tend to, by having fermented foods, greens, etc. Good bacteria in the gut are called microbiome and are important for avoiding lifestyle diseases in particular.
Benefits from a Functional Food
Let us consider the example of Barley Grass Juice Powder and walk through the benefits it provides as a part of the functional foods family.Contains rich Functional nutrients
Barley Grass contains functional nutrients like dietary fiber, vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, flavonoid and chlorophyll among other nutrients. The full list and proportions can be found here.
Calcium and Potassium are very essential for getting good sleep. They have 62 more times GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid is something that reduces neural excitability in humans) than polished rice which is the popular sleep inducer.Improves Gut Function
Barley grass powder has the dietary fiber needed to stimulate the gut track. Barley helps in the growth of probiotics and reduces ulcers. Barley supports reducing the pH level in the intestines so that the digestion improves. Fiber always helps in better absorption of vital nutrients in the body as well.Regulates Blood Pressure
Flavonoids found in barley grass help in regulating blood pressure. Chlorophyll content, in addition, helps to increase hemoglobin content in the blood and helps in case of any deficiency. Meanwhile, the vitamins and minerals in barley grass support in reducing stress.
Leave us a comment and let us know your experience with functional nutrition.