The difference between food, functional foods and nutraceuticals.
The first thing that I ever learned in my functional food class is to differentiate the difference between functional foods and Nutraceutical. A functional foods are similar in appearance and consumed as a part of typical diet and demonstrated to have physiological benefits and/or reduce the risk of chronic disease. Nutraceutical is products that are isolated and purified from food product as an extract or tinctures and sold in medicinal forms. Nutraceutical should also be demonstrated to have physiological benefits and/or reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Examples of functional foods and nutraceutical components are fiber, probiotics and prebiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, phytosterols and phytoestrogen.
Now that I worked in the nutraceutical industry, I was told the dosage matters and the most effective methods to obtain these beneficial components is through supplementation. Well, it is the easiest way out to get the nutrients. But, don't forget that our functional foods are also capable of providing us some of these nutrients.
It gets me thinking if we could substitute our functional foods with nutraceutical product and still get sufficient nutrients for our health.
The right format for our body
We know that these nutraceutical components are essential for our body to prevent and reduce the risk of chronic disease. But, what is the right format for it. While many of the nutraceutical professionals prefer nutraceutical format, I believe in taking the less processed- functional foods.
When we are taking functional foods, we also take in other nutrients that are beneficial for our body. For example, taking yogurt as a probiotic, we also get the nutrients of fermented milk in which, we are not getting through the probiotic powder.
Of course, the argument is about getting sufficient through food intake. Sufficiency depends on how our body can take the functional ingredients. It doesn't matter how much we load into our bodies if we can absorb them. So, take something that works for you. Bear in mind that nutraceutical products are not meant to be immediate cure and doesn't work asap. To benefit from these functional ingredients, continuous consumption are needed.