Implementing Nutraceuticals in the modern world of medicine

You are what you eat

By Dr. Anish Desai

Nutraceuticals have been receiving high interest due to their potential nutritional and safety profile, other than therapeutic capability. The science of nutraceuticals is gaining traction, with more people interested in discovering new therapeutic choices using cutting-edge technology and scientific approaches. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine once said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”1 Nutraceuticals has recently become the forefront of wellness trends. In today’s world, over 170 million adults reported consuming nutraceuticals to maintain their health.

Most consumers are aware of the changing trends which are due to the advantages of these compounds and their multiple therapeutic benefits. Nutraceutical compounds have gained attention as an alternative therapeutic and preventive approach alongside the advantages of being safe, affordable and available. Several types of nutraceuticals have been extracted from foods, and large quantities have been created utilising biotechnology and genetic engineering technologies to provide pharmaco- economic benefits. Apart from their nutritional value, these items offer significant health benefits by preventing a variety of ailments. Nutraceuticals have been shown to be effective in a variety of disorders.

Nutraceutical revolution

The nutraceuticals revolution began in the early 1980s, when clinical studies published in prestigious medical journals confirmed the actual or potential clinical benefits of calcium, fibre, and fish oil, and physicians began to educate their colleagues and consumers about these substances through the media. The following are some of the factors that influence revolution:

  • Physician – Increased physician acceptance of the medical benefits of nutritional products increased market demand of nutraceuticals.
  • Conscious about one’s health.
  •  Increased awareness.
  • Easy access to information, etc.

Nutraceuticals inspiring the current therapy for lifestyle diseases

Natural products have been known for their therapeutic values for centuries. In the modern era, these substances have been used as an immunity booster; antidiabetic, anticancer, antimicrobial, and gastroprotective agents; and so on. Therefore, these herbs could be better options to be formulated as nutraceuticals.Mechanistic actions of nutraceuticals involve activation of signal transduction pathways, antioxidant defences, gene expression, cell

proliferation, differentiation and preservation of mitochondrial integrity.

The emergence of a blossoming market for nutraceutical supplements

The developments of new medicines are more expensive and riskier than the already available drugs in the market; therefore, most pharmaceutical companies are turning to marketing nutraceuticals. The number of nutraceuticals being researched is increasing. This perhaps reflects ongoing market developments, research, and consumer interest. With rapidly increasing interest in the nutraceutical consumption, substantial research is necessary to warrant the nutraceuticals usage safe and effective.

Market perspective of nutraceuticals:

The nutraceutical market was primarily initiated by the pharmaceutical sector in the form of vitamin and mineral supplements. The estimated global nutraceutical market was $149.5 billion in 2011 with US, Europe and Japan being the largest regional markets, accounting

for nearly 93 per cent of the global nutraceutical demand. The global nutraceuticals market

is projected to reach $578.23 billion by 2025.

Spreading awareness and education about the relationship between food and health are constantly persuading more people to incorporate the benefits of nutraceuticals into

their health regimen.5 The expanding nutraceutical market suggest that consumers are in search for minimally processed food with extra nutritional benefits. This development drives expansion in the nutraceutical markets globally.

Powerful market forces are fuelling the interest in nutraceuticals:

Rapid advances in scientific knowledge supporting the vital role of diet in health and disease prevention.

  • Skyrocketing health care costs. 
  • An ageing population.
  • Technical advances in the food industry that are allowing the development of health promoting foods that can be marketed to health-conscious consumers at a premium.
  • The changing regulatory environment.
  • In the US, government sponsorship for clinical trial has grown, and funding for nutraceutical research has increased.
  • The supply of nutraceuticals and writing of analytical monographs of nutraceuticals for routine quality assurance is controlled by the regulatory authorities.
  • Nutrigenomics uses genetic information of a particular individual to predict nutraceutical supplementation to maintain health or prevent diseases.

Thus, nutraceuticals are a unique and exciting research sector for the development of revolutionary health products with enormous health benefits in terms of safety, efficacy, and cost. Researchers all around the world have discovered that adequate nutrition and dietary supplements can help to prevent and treat chronic diseases.

References:

  • Kalra EK. Nutraceutical–definition and introduction. AAPS PharmSci. 2003;5(3):E25. 
  • JBK Wellness Labs. 2021. The Powerful Benefits of Nutraceuticals on your Overall Health. [online] Available at: <https://jbkwellnesslabs.com/blog/ the-powerful-benefits-of-nutraceuticals-on-your- overall-health/> [Accessed 28 September 2021]. 
  • https://innovareacademics.in/journal/ajpcr/ Vol3Issue1/265.pdf 
  • Chanda S, Tiwari RK, Kumar A, Singh K. Nutraceuticals inspiring the current therapy for lifestyle diseases. Advances in pharmacological sciences. 2019 Jan 14;2019 
  • Nasri H, Baradaran A, Shirzad H, Rafieian-Kopaei M. New concepts in nutraceuticals as alternative for pharmaceuticals. International journal of preventive medicine. 2014 Dec;5(12):1487. 
  • Nemane, Shraddha T., Nilesh N. Shinde, Yuvraj M. Katu, and Rushikesh R. Waghmare. “A REVIEW ARTICLE ON: NUTRACEUTICALS.” (2020).