Food with health benefits
Written by Jules Birch
We are all familiar with cereals that are fortified with added vitamins and minerals, dairy spreads and drinks with phytosterols and the ubiquitous vitamin waters. There is no doubt that as our lives become busier and more stressed, we are looking to gain greater nutritional benefits from the foods we eat, perhaps to counterbalance the ‘bad foods’ in our diet.
But how far can we go with ‘adding benefit’ to food? Surely there are some foods that just do not make sense fortifying when they are nutritionally suspect to begin with and should just be reserved as ‘naughty treats’ without a nutritional ‘halo’?
The state of our health should be a key priority and, with the increase in obesity and diabetes twinned with the proposals for age-specific medications such as Statins for over 50’s, food definitely can combine taste and enjoyment with added and proven health benefits.
Many people are now looking to maintain good health naturally and are seeking alternatives to prescription medication, which is frequently seen as a last resort by both patients and GP’s alike.
When applied in dose-specific quantities per serving, natural food ingredients such as phytosterols, barley beta glucan and dairy peptides can be enormously effective in maintaining healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels and are relatively easy to incorporate into everyday foods and beverages.
However, as consumers become ever more enquiring and suspicious of ‘too good to be true’ claims, it is imperative that they are able to access the science behind the health claims. They must be able to have confidence in the evidence that the claims are approved and that the specific health benefits products purport to deliver are actually worth the purchase.
Due to the premium nature of these types of natural food ingredients, the finished food product is likely to be premium price. For those of us determined to manage our health as naturally as possible for as long as possible, this investment in our diets is surely an investment in our future health.
Supplements, snake oil and scams
Back in the 1800’s, elixirs and potions of all kinds, even those that supposedly included the oils from snakes, were sold as a cure for any ailment. Nowadays, we refer to a product that is proven not to live up to the vendor’s marketing claims as ‘snake oil’.
Obviously these practices no longer go on as regulations have tightened, consumers are much more educated and manufacturers and suppliers recognise the need to deliver quality products if they are to survive in a competitive marketplace. Or am I being naïve? Are there modern-day ‘snake oil salesman’ peddling their products, but with more sophisticated marketing tools at their disposal than their 19th century counterparts?
Many of us yearn to look younger and thinner and there are a plethora of products on the market claiming to help us turn back the clock. Whilst many of the ingredients in these tablets, capsules or drinks may have some anecdotal evidence of health benefits, are they being incorporated in the correct dosages to enable the product to deliver tangible results? And is it sufficient for the claims to be accepted at face value?
Jules Birch is the founder and CEO of health food supplements brand ‘Works with Water Nutraceuticals’. Her company is the first to pioneer a range of 100 percent natural, soluble food supplements containing ingredients that are scientifically proven to help maintain healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels and have a positive impact on skin.