Functional Foods

Although there is no universally accepted term for functional foods, “A functional food is similar in appearance to, or may be, a conventional food that is consumed as part of a usual diet, and is demonstrated to have physiological benefits and/or reduce the risk of chronic disease beyond basic nutritional functions, i.e. they contain bioactive compound”.  They provide health well beyond just nutrition.  Think health promoting, disease prevention (not just disease managing).

Join me on a journey inside your body with Ralphie from Magic School Bus. Think of your skin, go deeper.  What does your blood look like surging and flowing through your body?  Go deeper.  What do your bones and tendons and muscles look like?  Good.  Now just imagine for a minute, a cell in your body.  What does it look like?  Is it inflamed, red, angry, and throbbing?  That many manifest as any disease or pain you are currently feeling.

Bioactive compounds are found in functional foods and are being intensively studied to evaluate their effects on health.  Considering the antioxidant properties some serious thought should be given to allowing and choosing “food to be thy medicine”.

Ronald Ross Watson in his book “Bioactive Foods in Promoting Health” invites us to “know which ones can be effective in treating specific illnesses. For example, which are good for cardiac care? Which can help combat and treat asthma? What are the safety concerns to be aware of when using herbs in combination with traditional medicines?”

It’s no secret that dietary habits need to altered by most people.  Just look around.  People are “living too short and dying too long”

I do like to compare the human body to our homes or vehicles.  Both of which we rely on extensively, yet we will live in our bodies longer.  You wouldn’t put water in your gas tank or neglect anyone of your “systems” in your home would you?

Remembering that every little thing you do, good or bad, has a huge impact on your “daily performance”.  Eat well and BE SURE to fill in the gaps with the highest quality nutritional supplements.

Examples of Functional Food Components

Functional components

Source

Potential benefits

Source: International Food Information Council

Carotenoids

Alpha-carotene/Beta-carotene Carrots, Fruits, Vegetables Neutralize free radicals, which may cause damage to cells
Lutein Green vegetables Reduce the risk of macular degeneration
Lycopene Tomato products (ketchup, sauces) Reduce the risk of prostate cancer

Dietary Fibre

Insoluble Fibre Wheat Bran Reduce risk of breast or colon cancer
Beta-Glucan Oats, barley Reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. Protect against heart disease and some cancers; lower LDL and total cholesterol
Soluble Fibre Psyllium Reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. Protect against heart disease and some cancers; lower LDL and total cholesterol

Fatty Acids

Long chain omega-3 Fatty Acids-DHA/EPA Salmon and other fish oils Reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. Improve mental, visual functions
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) Cheese, meat products Improve body composition. Decrease risk of certain cancers

Phenolics

Anthocyanidins Fruits Neutralize free radicals; reduce risk of cancer
Catechins Tea Neutralize free radicals; reduce risk of cancer
Flavonones Citrus Neutralize free radicals; reduce risk of cancer
Flavones Fruits/vegetables Neutralize free radicals; reduce risk of cancer
Lignans Flax, rye, vegetables Prevention of cancer, renal failure
Tannins (proanthocyanidines) Cranberries, cranberry products, cocoa, chocolate Improve urinary tract health. Reduce risk of cardiovascular disease

Plant Sterols

Stanol ester Corn, soy, wheat, wood oils Lower blood cholesterol levels by inhibiting cholesterol absorption

Prebiotics/Probiotics

Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) Jerusalem artichokes, shallots, onion powder Improve quality of intestinal microflora; gastrointestinal health
Lactobacillus Yogurt, Other dairy Improve quality of intestinal microflora; gastrointestinal health

Soy Phytoestrogens

Isoflavones: Daidzein Genistein Soybeans and soy-based foods Menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes Protect against heart disease and some cancers; lower LDL and total cholesterol

Eat well, supplement well, live well

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