Most of us know that it is important to eat healthy foods throughout a lifetime to ensure proper nutrition and good health. However, that does not mean that we always get sufficient amounts of vital nutrients.
Functional foods are gaining popularity as an acceptable way to get nutrients you may otherwise miss. But what exactly are functional foods and what can they do for your health?
What are Functional Foods?
Functional foods, also known as medical foods or nutraceuticals, are products that are made from food sources. They can help you meet nutritional needs or provide medicinal effects and benefits. There are different types of functional foods that can have different benefits on the body and mind.
Typically, they consist of foods with an additional function or medical use. It can also refer to certain traits bred into food like color or seed concentration. There are dietary supplements, specialized diets or meal plans, herbs, GMO foods, vitamins, and more that can fit under the definition of functional foods, and they contain bioactive compounds that are derived from a natural source. In fact, regular foods can be categorized as functional foods in many cases as well.
While there is no completely recognized definition of functional food or nutraceutical, they all improve health or offer some medicinal benefit. A lot of traditional medicines could be considered functional foods, but there are also modern medicines that may interact with certain foods.
You can find more information about medication and related advice at BetterHelp as well as interactions and other helpful articles that may coincide with an interest in functional foods. Additionally, because functional foods can interfere with some medications, it is always a good idea to talk to your doctor before trying any new medicines or nutraceuticals.
How Can Functional Foods Act as Medication?
There are several benefits of functional foods that can be beneficial for medical issues and it is best to look at the most common benefits of these types of medicinal foods and the conditions that they can act as medicine for.
Functional foods as well as proper nutrition play an important role in the development of chronic disease. Some functional foods can prevent or treat chronic disease and be quite effective and medicinal for doing so. Research suggests that functional foods may be good for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and more.
Sufficient nutrition is crucial for good mental health and supplementing using functional foods may prevent mental health conditions and support psychological processes. Some foods offer stress-fighting properties while others support healthy management of important neurotransmitters like dopamine or serotonin that can influence mood and cognition.
Some functional foods offer inflammation-fighting properties because of phytochemicals. In addition, the existence of antioxidants in many functional foods can help prevent the development of inflammatory diseases caused by excessive oxidative stress, which include asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and some autoimmune diseases.
Many functional foods have prebiotic and probiotic qualities as well as high amounts of other nutrients like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that can be good for gut health by stimulating the growth of healthy bacteria while simultaneously warding off the negative impact of harmful bacteria.
There are a lot of functional foods, dietary supplements, and nutraceuticals that promise better immunity and a lot of foods offer nutrients and compounds that can be great for strengthening the immune system. Green tea, blueberries, vitamin D, and more can be great for boosting immune function.
Some functional foods are used as medication treatment for eye disorders like glaucoma, visual disorders, and other eye-related conditions. Studies show that nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein, and more can be good for eye health.
Did you know that healthy nutrition can extend your life? Nutrient-dense functional foods can help us increase our life through a combination of benefits and can help our recovery from illness and injury. In addition, functional foods can provide energy, improve cognition, and help us sleep better among other benefits touted by nutritionists and consumers.
Functional foods are safe for most people and can be added to your diet in the form of supplements or whole foods like fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, and fortified food products that can provide you with a variety of great benefits. They can also prevent nutrient deficiencies as long as you make sure that the product is safe for you.