In a growing age of alternative medicine, many Americans are turning to nutrition and diet to obtain no only the Recommended Daily Allowance, RDA, of nutrients and vitamins but also to cure and prevent disease and ailments. Known as “functional foods”, specific dietary consumption can serve to promote wellness, diminish the appearance of aging and, in some cases, even slow the aging process. For active, busy adults who seek a healthy diet program, to ward off the affects of aging, utilizing these functional foods on a weekly, if not daily, basis work to ensure an improvement over long term health.
Functional foods are simply defined as foods which, when consumed, provide a specific therapeutic benefit to the body. In other words, beyond nutrients and vitamins, functional foods are foods which are believed to cure or prevent specific diseases. When suffering from a family history of progressive disease, such as high blood pressure, depression and even high cholesterol and diabetes, these foods may provide the way to an improved health status by working to fight these specific and chronic diseases. It is within the functional foods that we find specific active compounds crucial to stimulating, and inhibiting, certain processes within the body.
Carrots, a common functional food, provides an example of the physiological change within the body by improving the appearance of age spots and fine lines so commonly associated with aging. In carrots, a biological component known as beta-carotene works within the human body to physiologically change the free radicals. In doing so, the consumption of beta-carotene, through carrots, provides for a defense against cell damage, converts to vitamin A, improves the appearance and shine of skin and works to even improve common facial conditions such as Rosecea.
In addition to carrots, foods such as bananas and potatoes contain a biological component known as potassium and, through consumption of bananas and potatoes, the potassium works within the human body to improve symptoms associated with high blood pressure and cardiac complications. The success of potassium, in cardiovascular health, is attributed to potassium’s ability to regulate sodium within the body. With an inverse relationship to sodium, when consuming bananas and potatoes, individuals suffering from cardiovascular complications, who should already be following a low sodium diet, are assured improved cardiovascular health with the equilibrium properties of potassium.
Commonly reported among health initiatives is the importance of the consumption of milk and dairy products. It is through milk consumption that calcium biological components are consumed, leading to healthy bones, teeth and gums and may prevent or slow the risk of osteoporosis. In addition to dairy products, bones, teeth and gums are provided a boost in health through the combination of calcium, from dairy, with the use of onion and garlic which contain insulin, believed to boost calcium absorption.
In an age where active, busy adults are eating meals on the go, skipping meals and even consuming fast food as never seen before, it is important to understand the physiological changes which transpire as a result of specific food consumption. For those suffering from pre-existing cardiovascular complications, functional foods can, and will, provide an avenue by which to regulate sodium levels and improve blood pressure. Calcium through the consumption of dairy products, will provide the necessary influence to boost Vitamin D production, thereby improving bones, teeth and gums. The key to optimal health, therefore, may lie in the selection of food products, including fruits and vegetables, and in the co morbid or pre-existing disease. Consulting a nutritionist regarding the best functional foods for one’s health status may be the key to unlocking physiological systems within the body, thereby improving overall health and increase life expectancy.
For more information regarding functional foods, and how they apply to your specific health condition, visit a local nutritionist in your area by visiting www.findanutritionist.com