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  • Writer's pictureSBE VIT


Updated: Sep 7, 2022


A balanced diet is one that provides a sufficient quantity of micro and macronutrients to our bodies. These nutrients contribute to our health by playing a role in various bodily functions, regeneration, and growth. The deficiency of certain micronutrients in our diet causes oxidative stress, leading to future health issues. This is where “Nutraceuticals” come into play, compensating for an insufficient diet.


Research in the nutritional sciences has greatly increased as of late. The term “nutraceutical” was originally coined in 1989 by Stephen DeFelice; founder and chairperson of the "Foundation for Innovation in Medicine", located in Cranford, New Jersey.

The concept of nutraceuticals dates back to 3,000 years ago when the use of natural substances as medicines was highly commonplace. Countries like India and China traditionally include foods chock full of high nutritional value.

Nutraceuticals and Metabolism

What exactly are nutrients?

Nutrients are the chemicals that constitute our food. They are the basic elements of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats act as substrates for metabolic requirements.

Metabolism is a process inclusive of all chemical reactions of a body, aiding the formation of all compounds required to keep cells living. It requires an ample amount of vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes to function with ease, in absence of which the body takes more time and energy and leads to further health complications. The absence of these essential metabolic nutrients is filled in by the usage of nutraceuticals.

Nutraceuticals can specifically be defined as substances with physiological benefits and early protection against chronic diseases. “Nutraceutic” is a term derived from “nutrition” and “pharmaceutics.”

However, nutraceuticals differ fundamentally from pharmaceuticals in that they do not have patent protection.

Nutraceuticals can be classified based on their function, food source, and bioactive components. Two broad categories that nutraceuticals can be grouped into include:

1. Dietary supplements

2. Functional foods

a. Traditional food

b. Non Traditional food

Dietary Supplements

These are products in which bioactive substances are concentrated and converted to suitable dosage. Supplements contain one or more of the following: amino acids, vitamins, herbs, or other botanicals, minerals, important metabolites, and certain enzymes. They are available in the forms of such as tablets, powder, etc

Functional Foods

This denotes food items that provide health benefits other than basic nutritional value.

Traditional Foods

This represents foods that are nutrient-rich and health-beneficial such as lycopene in tomatoes.

Non Traditional Foods

Includes foods in which bioactive component is additionally added to enhance the nutritional value. Examples include juices with added calcium, cereal fortified with iron, and flour with added folic acid. Over the years these have been of great importance and have been used along with pharmaceuticals to prevent and treat chronic diseases

Nutraceuticals play role in stopping the onset of chronic diseases and help reduce the complications involved. They are used in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and inflammatory-based diseases.

Disease Management

Cardio Vascular Diseases (CVD)

CVD is a collective term used for diseases pertaining to the heart and blood vessels, such as coronary heart disease (heart attack), peripheral vascular diseases, cerebrovascular disease (stroke), hypertension, heart failure

A low intake of vegetables and fiber leads to CVD. Nutraceuticals containing omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n−3 PUFAs), minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fibers along with physical exercise are advised for the treatment and prevention of CVD . Flavonoids, a chemical present in vegetables, berries, and onions were also found to combat CVD. . The intake of flavonoids was inversely proportional to the mortality rate by CVD.


Recent attention to carotenoids has focused on the role of lycopene in human health, particularly cancer. Due to the unsaturated nature of lycopene, it is considered a potent antioxidant and singlet oxygen quencher. Lycopene is concentrated in the prostate, testis, skin, and adrenal, where it protects against cancer. The link between carotenoids and the prevention of cancer and CAD has increased the importance of vegetables and fruits in human nutrition.

Vegetables and fruits containing lycopene have a protective effect against cancer by reducing oxidative stress and damaging DNA. Lycopene is one of the major carotenoids and is only found in tomatoes, guava, pink grapefruit, watermelon, and papaya. β‑carotene has antioxidant activity and prevents cancer and other diseases. Among the carotenes, β-carotene has the highest antioxidant activity, Alpha-carotene with 50-54%, and epsilon carotene with 42-50% of antioxidant activity.

Chronic inflammation is associated with immune suppression, which is a risk factor for cancer. Ginseng is an example of an anti-inflammatory molecule that targets several key players in the inflammation-to-cancer sequence. Today, phytochemicals with anti-cancer properties are of great interest. Chemopreventive components in fruits and vegetables have potential anticarcinogenic and antimutagenic activities, among other beneficial health effects.

For the prevention of prostate and breast cancers, a wide range of phyto-pharmaceuticals, which are claimed to have hormonal activity, called “phytoestrogens” is recommended. Plants rich in daidzein, biochanin, isoflavones, and genistein also inhibit prostate cancer cell growth. Citrus flavonoids may protect against cancer by acting as antioxidants. High intakes of glucosinolates and hydrolysis products and cruciferous vegetables, including indoles and isothiocyanates, have been associated with a lower risk of colorectal and lung cancer.


In recent years, many dietary supplements and herbal medicines have been scientifically shown to be beneficial for type 2 diabetes in preclinical studies, however, a few have been shown to be beneficial for type 2 diabetes. had the same effect in appropriately designed randomized clinical trials.

Isoflavones are phytoestrogens that are structurally/functionally similar to human estrogens.

Soy isoflavones have been studied the most, and their consumption has been linked to reduced incidence and mortality of type II diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and some cancers.

Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to decrease glucose tolerance in predisposed patients to diabetes. To synthesize n-3 long chain fatty acids, insulin is required; As a result, the heart may be especially vulnerable to diabetes. Ethyl esters of n-3 fatty acids may be beneficial for patients with diabetes.

Lipoic acid is an antioxidant used to treat diabetic neuropathy and appears to be effective as a long-term dietary supplement for protecting diabetics from complications. Psyllium fiber has been widely used as a pharmacological supplement, and food ingredient, in processed foods to support weight loss, control glucose in diabetics and reduce lipid levels in hyperlipidemia. blood lipids. Lots of plant extracts like Toucrium polium, cinnamon, and bitter melon have been shown to prevent or treat diabetes.


The nutraceutical industry has evolved rapidly over the past few years to respond to this growing demand for health-promoting products. This is reflected in the exponential increase in nutraceutical launches in the functional drinks and dietary supplements categories. This requires the development of nutraceutical products that provide a wide variety of microbiota that will provide enhanced immunity and general well-being. The nutraceutical market is not without its challenges. The nutraceutical industry has shown that there is still ample room for further growth, with the global population aging and an increase in healthcare. As people become more health conscious and adapt to their well-being, the use of nutraceutical products will only increase. It is essential that manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers in the nutraceutical industry measure various drivers for the growth of the nutraceuticals industry if they want to expand their growth in the new normal.

- written by Aditi Alok and Aadya Dave - edited by Janani G

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