The terms Nutrition and Pharmaceuticals together denotes Neutraceuticals. These are biological therapies for well-being. The philosophy of this therapy focuses mainly on prevention. Greek physician Hippocrates (known as the father of medicine) said let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. Ayurveda also recommends the use of food as a medicine.
The name Neutraceuticals was given in 1989 by Stephen DeFelice, Founder and Chairman of the Foundation for Innovation in Medicine, in Cranford, New Jersey. Neutraceuticals is a specially treated food, vitamin, mineral, herb, etc., that you eat or drink in order to improve your health. It can be classified under food supplements, functional food, medicinal food and farma food.
A dietary supplement represents a product that contains nutrients derived from food products, and are often concentrated in liquid, capsule, powder or pill form. Functional food is a category which includes whole foods and fortified food substances. These reduce the risk of chronic disease and provide health-benefit. Medicinal food is formulated to be consumed or administered internally, under the supervision of a qualified physician.
Farmaceuticals are valuable components obtained from agricultural crops and animals also. Neutraceuticals impose crucial roles in immune status and susceptibility to certain disease states.
Although the concept of Neutraceuticals is gaining more popularity, its origin can be traced from ancient system of medicine Ayurveda. Rasayana is one of the branches of Ayurveda, which is used for achieving longevity. This can be obtained by using herbs, herbo-mineral substances or by specific foods. Aajasrik rasayana is a specific type in which special foods can be used for increasing immunity, achieving health and longevity.
Concept of the health of a person is different in Ayurveda. Man is a miniature of the nature. Whatever present in the nature is also present in human being. Universe is made up of five great elements namely earth, water, fire, air and ether. Therefore, these five principles are present in the human being and food also. Health of a person depends on equilibrium of these five elements. Along with that balance in three bioenergy namely Vata, Pitta, Kapha; seven tissues and proper function of digestion helps for maintenance of health.
Fresh organic food consumed according to agni (digestive power), constitution, at proper time maintain the health and reduces the risk of chronic diseases. According to Chhandogya Upanishad, a small part of digested food nourishes the mind also. Sattvic food has good impact on mind keeping the good health of mind and giving a person ability to think what is good for him and what is not.
Some examples of Ayurvedic Neutraceuticals are Chavanprash (Fruit jam of Amla or Indian gooseberry cooked with ghee, oil, sugar and various herbs). It is a general health and preventive tonic for respiratory diseases. Rason Ksheerpak (Garlic cooked in milk is useful in arthritis). Kushmand pak (Winter melon or special type of white gourd, cooked with ghee and sugar-for debility, as geriatric tonic)
Benefits of the food for health are mentioned long back. During the first Olympic Games, the ancient Greeks used garlic as a performance-enhancing drug in 16th century. Lemon was used to prevent scurvy.
There is tradition in ancient villages to offer glass of water with jaggery to recover from tiredness after walking a long distance.
The stand that food can be health promoting beyond its traditional nutritional value is gaining momentum amongst scientists, health professionals as well as consumers.
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