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Nutraceuticals: Ayurveda’s

Yogita Rani, N. K. Sharma

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  • The relationship between consumption of whole grains and reduced risk of coronary heart disease (Lui S, 2002)
  • Association of consumption of foods rich in natural soluble fiber as psyllium with reduced incidence of coronary heart disease (Anderson, 1995)
  • Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables leading to decreased risk for cancer (Steinmetz & Potter, 1996)
  • In clinical trials, garlic & n-3 fatty acids found in fish were shown to reduce elevated serum cholesterol levels (Van Schacky et al, 2001)
  • Lycopene, a naturally occurring carotenoid, whose consumption is associated with reduced cancer rates (Livny et al, 2002)
  • Association of black and green tea with cancer prevention and control attributed to anti-oxidant properties due to the presence of polyphenols (Das et al, 2002)
  • Link between fermented dairy products and improved gastro-intestinal health (Marteau et al, 2001)
Although for the above-cited references, association of diet with decreased disease risk has not yet reached a scientific consensus, these are enough to change the trends and provide way forward to the nutraceutical industry.

What are Nutraceuticals

Nutraceuticals, often referred to as functional foods, are natural bioactive materials that provide demonstrated physiological benefits or reduce the risk of chronic diseases, above and beyond their basic nutritional function. The term functional in the functional food implies that the food has some identified value leading to health benefits including reduced risk for diseases. This branch has evolved as a result of the advancement of nutritional science from the treatment of deficiency syndromes to reduction of disease risk. The data supporting the role of diet in health promotion and disease prevention continues to mount so does the market for the same providing numerous opportunities to the pharma & food industry. It has been seen that the association of traditional medicine to the nutraceuticals brings the consumer acceptance easily. Hence we are making a concerted effort to dive in the vast sea of Ayurveda, to reveal the concept and explain a few major nutraceuticals applied in practice for ages.

Nutraceuticals and Ayurveda

In Ayurveda, the importance of particular diet in prevention and treatment of diseases was well known even in 1000 BC. For ages, people in India, because of their cultural beliefs & experiences have taken herbs and herbal formulations as part of their daily food supplements. The faith in the power of botanicals along with the availability of a vast majority of different kinds of herbs in India has always been a thrust behind the survival of this scientific art of healing. Ayurveda clearly advocates the use of diet which besides providing the basic nutrition to the body, helps to maintain the healthy state of the body & prevents the occurrence of diseases, as is seen in the verse:

"Tat cha nityam prayunjeet svasthyam yen anuvartate.
Ajaatanam vikaranam anuttpattikaram cha yat."
(Charaka Samhita: Sutra Sthana: 5)

According to this traditional science, diet alone is the cause of growth in human and occurrence of diseases. An interesting verse regarding the importance of wholesome diet goes as:

"Pathye sati gadaartasya kim aushadh nishevane.
Pathye asati gadaartasya kim aushadh nishevane."
(Vaidhya Jeevana: 1/10)

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