People in the new millennium want improvements in their general quality of life. In this issue we’ll discuss how to enjoy good health and introduce some information on the special food groups and supplements that can enhance our well-being. As human beings, we strive for a better quality of life. If we look at our lifestyle management, though, we can see three main courses that people choose:
- Let things be as they are, meaning no action is taken for our health, classified as the regressive or passive approach.
- Try to maintain current levels of health as much as possible; this falls into what we call the defensive approach.
- Promote and enhance good health to the best of your ability, i.e. the proactive approach.
The first approach, of letting things be as they are, is not particularly beneficial so there is no need to elaborate on it. The second approach, of trying to maintain current levels of health, is useful enough to take into consideration. The essence of this approach is:
- Having sufficient hours and quality of sleep every day. This is supported by scientific research and can easily be observed by most of us anyway.
- Drinking plenty of water and eating quality food. Quality food comprises both macronutrients (protein, carbohydrateand fat) and micronutrients(vitamins and minerals) inadequate amounts, not too much or too little. Such moderation is similar to the Middle Way endorsed by Buddhists.
- Refraining from smoking and avoiding heavy pollution and pollutants. As for drinking, interestingly, scientific studies advocate two daily measuresof whisky for men but one for women.
- Keeping the mind clear, lively and upbeat.
- Performing daily activities, no matter what your profession, with high spirits and flexibility to overcome obstacles.
Promoting and enhancing good health is called the proactive approach. This involves all of the above plus these secondary activities:
- Performing aerobic exercise forat least 20 minutes three times a week. The benefits are self-explanatory, but the timing of, dedication to and length of sessions should be monitored.
- Consuming healthy and functional food. Functional food contains healthy ingredients that provide benefits to the body beyond the usual energy.
- Taking dietary supplementsbased on individual need anddiet.
- Meditating when the opportunity arises. Meditation strengthens the mind, spirit and awareness.
As we look more closely at what lies beneath lifestyle management, we see that the special food groups mentioned earlier, i.e. the functional foods and dietary supplements, can play a major role in satisfy ingconsumer health concerns. The definition of functional food has changed sign ificantlyover the past few decades. Functional food or medicinal food are ones that claim to have health-promoting or disease preventing properties beyond the basic function of supplying nutrients. The general category of functional food sincludes those processed or for tified with health-promoting nutrients, such as “vitamin-enriched” products.
Fermented foods with live culturesor good bacteria are considered functional foods with probiotic benefits. Functional foods are an emerging field in food science due to their increasing popularity with health-conscious consumers. The term was first used in Japan in the 1980s, when a government approval process called Foods for Specified Health Use (FOSHU) was established.
As we can see, modern consumers want products that will enhance their quality of life. For this purpose,functional foods and dietary supplements containing healthy ingredientscan be a good solution to suit people’s needs. Mother Earth also providesmany healthy ingredients, andmore research is needed to uncovernutritional potential and new ingredients.