One of every three people in the world is suffering from Protein- Energy Malnutrition (PEM) or micronutrient malnutrition also known as "hidden hunger". Like several nutritionists and doctors, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Medical Association (AMA) have admitted that modern diets should be complemented with vitamins, minerals and other health supplements to tackle ill-health.
Studies and research conducted in almost every country has proven that several nutrients are lost or reduced on consuming fast-food and convenience-food. With the growing awareness on different types of diseases and deficiencies, a marked increase has been recorded in the consumption of functional foods, super foods, fortified foods, dietary supplements and probiotics. Sale of vitamins – C, D, E and B complex, drinkable yoghurts, energy bars, ready-to-eat salads, fortified juices and drinks in addition to bottled mineral water has sky rocketed in the past two years. However all health food supplements do not come with the government's stamp of approval. The FDA comes into the picture only when a manufacture self-reports an issue with his product or a health concern is raised.
It has been proved through researches worldwide that toxicity in the body can also increase with high dosages of vitamins A, D, E, C, Pyroxine and Iodine. Therefore health food supplements should only be taken under proper guidance because the effect may vary between individuals, depending on factors like age, sex, physical condition and the combination in which supplements are taken. As a general principle, "kitchen sink" combinations should be avoided. Unless necessary, it is advised that natural health food supplements be added to daily diet.
Researchers at National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), India, have conducted extensive research on health food supplements and concluded that spices are extremely beneficial to wellbeing:
- Debitterised fenugreek seeds: Delay or impair glucose absorption when 25gms are consumed by diabetic subjects.
- Turmeric and its active principle called curcumin: Possess antimutagenic, anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant properties. Ingestion of 2gms per day enhances body defences.
- Onion and garlic: Rich source of compounds, like diallyl sulphide, diallyl disulphide, allium and ajoene. These have antimicrobial, hypolipidemic antimutagenic, anticarcinogenic and antioxidant properties. They stimulate enzymes in the body that detoxify mutagens/carcinogens.
- Ginger: Helps ameliorate conditions like rheumatic disorders, inflammation and gastrointestinal discomforts. Studies also suggest it to be usable as a chemo-preventing agent.
Other well researched health food supplements are:
- Chlorophyll: Builds blood, renews tissue, promotes healthful intestinal flora and activates enzymes that produce vitamins A, D, and K.
- Wheat Grass Juice: Has detoxifies the body and has a high concentration of beta-carotene and vitamins such as E and K.
- Alfalfa: Helps assimilate protein, fats and carbohydrates. It alkalizes and detoxifies the body, especially the liver.
- Barley grass: Contains folic acid, pantothenic acid, beta carotene and vitamins C and E.
- Spirulina: Helps to protect the immune system, lower cholesterol and facilitate mineral absorption. It is high in chlorophyll, protein, beta-carotene, B12 and nucleic acids.
- Flaxseed oil: Rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6. Provides essential fatty acids required for normal cell structure and function.
- Dark chocolate: If consumed in a moderate amount, helps to lower high blood pressure and keep the heart healthy. It is rich in flavonoids.
- Curds/Yogurt: Provides the digestive tract with beneficial bacteria that help to fight cancer, build bones and boost immunity. These are probiotic foods.
- Oats: Consumption of this food lowers the risk of heart diseases as it is rich in fibres, it also helps muscle growth.
In a nutshell, consuming a variety of edibles with the right health food supplements leads to increased longevity, proper hormonal functioning and physical as well as mental efficiency.