Healthy food and nutrients play an important role in the normal functioning of your body. They help in maintaining your health and in reducing the risk of a lot of diseases. The worldwide acceptance of this fact formed the link between nutrition and health and that is how the concept of Nutraceuticals evolved.
Nutraceuticals are medicinal foods that play vital roles in maintaining well being, enhancing health, modulating immunity and preventing as well as treating specific diseases.
Before talking about any other disease, let us talk about cardiovascular diseases. The cause of cardiovascular diseases reveal many risk factors that are controllable by nutraceuticals. The ability of nutraceuticals to reduce the cardiovascular risk factors is an enormous opportunity in the treatment of this highly prevalent disease.
Nutraceuticals, in clinical therapy, prove that they have the potential to significantly reduce the side effects associated with chemotherapy. This can reduce the global health care cost.
There are a lot of other diseases in which Nutraceuticals can be effective. Let us dive deeper and get to know what those diseases are and how exactly things happen.
Allergy and nutraceuticals
Allergy in simple language can be defined as the hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system. An allergic reaction usually happens when a person’s immune system reacts to a substance that may or may not be harmful.
Allergic reactions are so distinctive because certain white blood cells or also known as mast cells, and basophils by a type of antibody called immunoglobulin E get excessively activated.
Quercetin protects the low-density lipoprotein (LDL-C) from becoming damaged, especially to blood vessels. LDL-C is the underlying cause of heart disease and quercetin acts as an antioxidant that removes free radicals. People who are Diabetic are at a higher risk of blood vessel damage from oxidative stress. Therefore, quercetin is beneficial in these patients too.
Alzheimer’s disease and nutraceuticals
Alzheimer’s disease or AD, as it is popularly known, is the most common form of dementia. There is no cure for it and it eventually leads to death. More often than not, AD is diagnosed in people over 65 years of age. The early-onset of Alzheimers can occur much earlier, however it is less prevalent.
Women are the more affected sex by this disease. Several pieces of evidence suggest that oxidative stress may be related to a number of neurodegenerative disorders, also including AD. Nutraceutical antioxidants such as curcumin, lutein, lycopene, turmerin and β-carotene may have positive effects on certain diseases as they combat oxidative stress. The growing trends in nutraceutical usage is because of the belief that these compounds are able to postpone the development of dementias like AD. Several recently published papers show the positive effects of different nutriceutical plants such as Zizyphus jujube, Lavandula officinalis on AD, learning or memory. Therefore, nutraceuticals usage.
Cardiovascular diseases and nutraceuticals
Cardiovascular diseases or more commonly known as CVD is the term used for disorders of the heart and blood vessels. It also includes heart disease related to the arteries (heart attack), peripheral vascular diseases (PVDs), cerebrovascular disease (stroke), hypertension, heart failure, and many more.
It is believed that deficiency of vegetables and fruits from a person’s diet is associated with a high mortality in CVD. Majority of the CVDs are preventable. A lot of studies have revealed that a diet rich in vegetables and fruits acts as a preventive measure against CVDs.
Nutraceuticals in the form of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, dietary fibers and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n−3 PUFAs) when taken along with doing regular physical exercise helps in the prevention and treatment of CVD.
Flavonoids are widely distributed in vegetables, onion, grapefruits, apples, cherries, pomegranate, berries, black grapes, and red wine, and are available as flavones, flavanones and flavonols. They play a major role in the prevention and curing of CVDs. Flavonoids in regularly consumed food items may reduce the risk of death from coronary heart disease, especially in elderly people.
Ginger is considered to have antioxidant and antiinflammatory activities and recently it has been recommended for various diseases including hypertension and palpitations.This plant also has a good protective effect on toxicity of synthetic drugs. Fatty acids of the omega-3 series (n−3 fatty acids) that are found in fish are the dietary components affecting plasma lipids and the CVDs, like arrhythmias. Octacosanol that is present in whole grains, fruits and leaves of many plants, has lipid lowering properties with almost no side-effects.
Cancer and nutraceuticals
Cancer has emerged as a major disease in developing countries in the last few decades. According to the World Cancer Report, cancer rates are increasing and there will be 15 million new cases in the year 2020, which accounts for a rise of 50%.
A healthy lifestyle along with a wholesome diet can help in the prevention of cancer. Carotenoids are a group of phytochemicals responsible for different colors of the foods that have antioxidant activities that are effective in cancer prevention.
Plants rich in daidzein, biochanin, isoflavones and genistein, also help in the prevention of prostate cancer cell growth. Because of the unsaturated nature of lycopene, it is considered to be an excellent antioxidant. The linkage between carotenoids and prevention of cancer and CAD (coronary artery disease), heightened the importance of vegetables and fruits in the diet.
Lycopene containing vegetables and fruits exert cancer-protective effects. They decrease the oxidative stress and thereby, damage to the DNA. Lycopene, one of the major carotenoids, is found exclusively in tomatoes, guavas, pink grapefruits, watermelons and papayas.
β-carotene has antioxidative activities that prevent cancer and other diseases.
Citrus fruit flavonoids are effective in protecting against cancer, as they act as antioxidants. Soyfoods are a unique dietary source of isoflavones. Soybean offers protection against breast, uterine, lung, colorectal, and prostate cancers. β-carotene is found in yellow, orange, and green leafy vegetables and fruits. Tomatoes, lettuce, oranges, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, spinach, and winter squash are the examples of the fruits and vegetables that have anticancer activities.
Saponins are reported to possess antimutagenic and antitumor activities. They might lower the risk of human cancers by preventing cancer cells from growing. Saponins are found in peas, soybeans, and some herbs like soapberry, soapwort and soapbark. Tomatoes, potatoes, alfalfa, spinach, and clover also contain Saponins.
Tannins also remove harmful free radicals and detoxify carcinogens. Tannins in grapes, lentils, tea, blackberries, blueberries and cranberries is a proven anticarcinogen that is used to prevent cancer.
Ellagic acid – walnuts, pecans, strawberries, cranberries, pomegranates and red raspberry seeds, pectin in apples, sulphur in garlic, are all effective in the prevention as well as treatment of cancer.
Consumption of fruits and vegetables having cysteine, glutathione, selenium, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, lycopene, and various phytochemicals elevates the levels of antioxidative capacity.
Diabetes and nutraceuticals
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. It is also associated with obesity. Although a number of drugs for the prevention and treatment of diabetes have been introduced, the total number of people with diabetes is increasing globally.
Isoflavones are phytoestrogens which have structural and/or functional similarities to human estrogen. A lot of studies have been conducted on soy isoflavones. Their consumption has been associated with lower incidence and mortality rate by type II diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and a few cancers.
Omega-3 fatty acids are supposed to reduce glucose tolerance in diabetes patients. For the synthesis of a long chain n−3 fatty acids, insulin is required and the heart will therefore be particularly susceptible to depletion in diabetes. Ethyl esters of n−3 fatty acids may be potentially beneficial in diabetic patients.
Lipoic acid is an antioxidant which is used for the treatment of diabetic neuropathy and seems to be effective as a long-term dietary supplement for the protection of diabetics from complications. Dietary fibers from psyllium have been used extensively both as pharmacological supplements, food ingredients, in processed food to aid weight reduction, for glucose control in diabetic patients and to reduce lipid levels in hyperlipidemia. A lot of plant extracts such as Teucrium polium, cinnamon and bitter melon have been shown to prevent or treat diabetes.
Eye disorders and nutraceuticals
Healthy lifestyle with a diet containing foods rich in antioxidants, such as n−3 fatty acids, lutein and zeaxanthin appears beneficial for age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
High content of polyphenolic flavonoids in nutraceuticals have been shown to possess antioxidant activity. Herbs or herbal extracts, such as green tea, Vitamins C and E, polyphenols, carotenoids (mainly lycopene and β-carotene), and coenzyme Q10 possess antioxidant properties and are effective in AMD. Lutein is a carotenoid which is found in many vegetables and fruits including sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, tomatoes, mangoes, corn, and leafy greens such as kale and collards. Lutein and Zeaxanthin are used for the treatment of visual disorders. Food sources of zeaxanthin include corn, green vegetables and fruits, such as brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, broccoli, green beans, green peas, lettuce, kiwi, collard greens, spinach, and honeydew.
Obesity and nutraceuticals
Obesity has now become a global public health problem with about 315 million people suffering from it. Obesity is a risk factor for many diseases such as hypertension, congestive heart failure, angina pectoris, hyperlipidemia, respiratory disorders, osteoarthritis, cancer, renal vein thrombosis and reduced fertility, among many others.
One of the primary causes of obesity is the increase in the availability of high amounts of fattening food items. These food items are even worse, energy-dense foods. Nutrition and exercise play a key role in the prevention and treatment of obesity.
Nutraceutical interventions are currently being investigated on large-scales as the potential treatments for obesity and weight management. Nutraceuticals such as capsaicin conjugated linoleic acid, Momordica charantia and Psyllium fiber possess potential anti-obesity properties.
Researchers and obese individuals are seeking the help of nutraceuticals to prevent or treat obesity as even after the restricted consumption of high fattening and energy-dense food items, and increasing the physical activity, there has been no substantial effect in managing obesity.
Therefore, with all the above mentioned examples, it is clear that nutraceuticals do help in fighting a lot of diseases. Check out www.decodeage.com to have a look at the wide range of nutraceuticals that we offer.
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