Natural nutraceuticals or functional foods are defined as ‘a food or parts of a food, that provide medical or health benefits, including the prevention and treatment of disease’. The term was first used in 1989 by the founder and chairman of the American organisation The Foundation for Innovation in Medicine, Stephen De Felice, and the science behind the medical benefits and the health-giving properties of plant based foods or components of these foods, luckily for us all, has been growing ever since.
In developing countries, these concentrated botanicals are often the main source of disease prevention and treatment, but in the West, they tend to be used more for health maintenance. But as more and more of us take control of our own health and take more interest in the power of integrative medicine, the use of nutritional supplements and functional foods such as probiotic kefir and kimchi is on the rise, and we’re embracing that.
We offer a range of unique plant-based nutraceuticals, and we’d love you to meet some of the best here:
Breathe a sigh of relief, Cal-M is here! Our relaxing Cal-M capsules (and we also have a powder version of Cal-M) contain plant-based magnesium, calcium and organic cider vinegar in a form that’s quickly absorbed by the body to calm, heal and aid relaxation. Both the capsules and the powder are suitable for vegans and contain no gluten, added sugar, artificial preservatives or colours.
Our Advanced Micro Formula 1.5 Billion – Probiotics, Prebiotics and L-Glutamine capsules are Vegetarian Society approved, gluten-free and contain no artificial preservatives or colourings. They contain our most potent strain of Lactobacillus Acidophilus, the DDS-1 strain, which is proven to survive in the acidic digestive tract longer than any other strain. Along with the fructooligosaccharide prebiotics and the essential amino acid L-Glutamine, they aid digestion and support the health of the gut.
Lecithin is a plant sterol and our pure lecithin granules are a gluten free, sugar-free, vegan source of natural choline, inositol, phosphatidyl serine and omega-3. Levels of these plant-based supporters of cognitive function decline with age and our delicious lecithin granules can be taken daily on their own or sprinkled on foods.
Eyebright is a plant rich in anti-inflammatory tannins which slow down age-related deterioration in vision. Along with concentrated lutein from green leafy veggies, flavonoid-rich bilberry, wild carrot root and lycopene, a bright red phytochemical found in tomatoes, our Eyebright Plus capsules are teeming with plant based support for eye health and vision.
Along with the rise of functional foods or natural nutraceuticals, the practice of integrative medicine is becoming more mainstream. Now that it’s no longer referred to as ‘alternative medicine’ it isn’t just associated with anyone perceived as living a lifestyle disassociated from the rest of society, or seen as non-evidence based treatments that are ‘all in the mind’.
The very word integrative pleases us. To think of the cause and treatment of disease, or wellbeing in general, being looked at as the whole person becoming the norm, well, we won’t ponder too long on what took everyone else so long, or that our ancestors knew a thing or two about food as medicine.
With the continuing work of dedicated scientists and researchers and the medical knowledge we now have, combining conventional medicine with naturopathic and alternative medicine practices makes so much sense. Looking at the mind, body and spirit of a person, being healing oriented, not just symptom oriented, looking at lifestyle, genetics and the environment to work out what’s causing ill-health, it’s the perfect approach to healthcare.
Digging deep into the underlying factors that trigger disease, overlapping symptoms and even identifying genetic causes of disease as functional medicine does, takes it even further and can only be a wonderful thing for all of us in the prevention and management of disease and the promotion of wellbeing.
Compared to conventional medicine alone, functional medicine is health oriented, not disease oriented. Its individual patient focussed and crucially, it’s preventative. In contrast, conventional medicine alone is doctor focussed, catch all and relies on early detection of disease.
One of the main focusses of integrative medicine is looking at an individual’s diet and optimising it to promote longevity and life enhancement and the addition of nutritional supplements and natural nutraceuticals is part of this.
But functional foods are powerful substances and don’t have to be in tablets or powders. Many foods that are part of routine, Western life already contain nutraceuticals with life-giving properties. Plant stanols and sterols in yoghurts and buttery spreads are known to help reduce cholesterol, omega-3 fatty acids from nuts are linked with brain health and reducing the inflammation associated with arthritis and probiotics or ‘friendly bacteria’, have a positive effect on our digestive systems.
These phytochemicals bridge the gap between food and medicine and as such, there are, quite rightly, strict rules on what claims can be made about them, and there are also many doubters. But as we’ve just seen above, some nutraceuticals are so well known and accepted today that we don’t give them a fancy name or think of them as anything other than a food that is good for us or helps with a medical condition. That is, a food that has medicinal properties!
So many of the doubters are probably aiming their frowns at snake oil sellers making dubious claims whilst eating their breakfast of plant stanol and sterol-rich spread on fortified bread and probiotic yoghurt…
But we can’t lump all natural nutraceuticals into one bad, judged pot. Many, many of them have life-giving properties but haven’t yet become mainstream. And whilst we members of the for the Ageless community would love to hold onto the secrets of our innovative supplements that contribute to an agile, lucid and independent healthy ageing process, it seems the cap might be being taken off the bottle…
Many companies, frustrated at not being able to legally substantiate claims of the power of their nutraceuticals, are turning to contract research organisations to scientifically prove the efficacy of their products and strengthen their place in the market (which really, we know to be a good thing).
You can learn more about them and our other powerful botanicals by visiting our natural nutraceuticals collection, only the best nutraceutical products.
Written by Hannah de Gruchy
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