Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

When Life Demands Xtra


Xtra Vital for Men  Xtra Vital for WomenThe latest buzzword in the realm of nutrition and diet is nutraceutical. Globally nutraceuticals market is estimated at US $120 billion in 2007 growing at 7% and is projected to witness healthy growth to cross US$187 billion in sales by 2010. “Nutraceuticals has been gaining wide acceptance because of its ability to address several lifestyle related ailments, says Honey Khanna, senior dietician at Max Healthcare. Actually, if you pause to ponder, what nutraceuticals claim is not new. Hippocrates wrote 2400 years ago, “Let the food be your medicine and medicine be your food.”

 Still, the million-dollar question remains—what has made nutraceuticals so popular? How can there be a pill to counter all lifestyle related ailments? Why can’t we remain content with the goodness and nutrition of food alone and need to seek solace in a pill? Probably, or may be for sure the best place to investigate is your lifestyle. The food that we are eating is grown in the soil, which is devoid of nutrients; the produce travels long distance, which depreciates its nutritional value. Reliance on fast food and imbalanced diet complicates our health cycle, and the amount of stress we undergo everyday aggravates it further.  This change reflects on health – heart attacks in mid 30′s is seen, cholesterol in late 20′s, chronic acidity, diabetes and osteoporosis etc.

Increasing scientific evidences have supported the link between health foods and good health. These evidences when put in the context of changing consumer demographics, growing awareness of diet/ disease relationships and increasing acceptance of alternative healthcare practices have fuelled the market of nutraceuticals. Says Honey, “‘Nutraceutical’ is a term proposed to classify foods that ‘provide medical or health benefits’. Nutraceutical is any food or food ingredient considered to provide medical or health benefits including the prevention and treatment of disease.”

 “Nutraceuticals enhance the body’s abilities to withstand the stresses and strains that challenge our health through a changed and impulsive lifestyle,” explains she.

 Treading the middle path 

 Nutraceuticals and functional foods are assuming a middle ground between food and drugs due to growing body of evidence that supports their role in maintaining health and contributing to treatment of disease.

 This industry consists of various categories of nutrition products such as functional food, dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs/botanicals, sports nutrition, meal replacement and specialty), natural/organic food, and personal care and household products. As the expectation of the consumer increases the nutritional product responds by demonstrating greater intelligence. “Hence you get fortified milk, probiotic dahi, fermented drink with live bacteria, meal-replacement drinks and protein supplements,” adds Honey. But nothing matches the convenience of pills and a consumer has galore options. There is a pill for–glowing skin, lustrous hair, weight loss, age-related symptoms–joint pains, hot flashes.

But the actual makeover has been experienced by herbs. As it is Indians have relied on herbal cures for ages, but now the horizons of herbal healing have expanded beyond the realm of Chyavanprasha. There are herbal cures for flagging libido, complaining joints and for overall health to name a few. With the players on sidelines entering the mainstream the competition is getting fiercer. But the consumer isn’t complaining. Instead he is laughing all the way to the pharmacy store.

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