There’s always something to be said for eating healthy. Your body needs specific nutrients to function and keep everything running smoothly. A diverse diet rich in vegetables and fruits is one of the biggest keys to achieving this. It offers you the nutrients you need in their most potent forms without needing to go through a supplement that might have less biologically active forms of the nutrient included. Some foods end up with extra claims around them though. A popular term these days is “functional food”. People are gradually talking more about it and emphasizing it potential place as part of a holistic approach to medicine. It is often viewed as treating your food as part medicine in addition to everything else. As with other health trends that can touch on beauty, we’re taking a quick look at it so that you have a broader understanding of functional foods.

What You Might Think
Functional foods, as their name implies, are food with a function. They offer their basic nutritional value in addition to being focused on something. This isn’t entirely alien to people as there are particular ways to adjust your diet to help improve your skin or other areas of your health. In general, the idea centers on focusing your nutrition more around the nutrients your body needs most to help with specific issues. This works for many people and is a useful tactic. We’ve discussed ways of doing this before to help improve skin clarity and tone. Food as medicine isn’t a strange concept to anyone. In short, that’s what the term functional food is meant to imply. It is food that is good for you, but it also offers that extra boost to a specific area of health. Unfortunately, that isn’t all it actually ends up meaning in practice.

A Lack Of Oversight
As with a lot of trendy things, the term functional food lacks the kind of oversight to ensure that it remains a meaningful term. Japan is one of a handful of countries that have or had government agencies dedicated to testing and checking the claims of functional foods. The claims made by functional food proponents at that point tend to be relatively grounded and were verifiable with research. A resurgence in the popularity of the idea has carried it beyond the arms of agencies capable of fact checking all the claims. The United States actually lacks a true body to check the claims and this has lead to claims driven more by marketing and desires than the truth. Those looking to test out functional food-based diets should treat any claims that seem too good to be true with extreme skepticism as a result.

What Can I Do About This?
Don’t let the potential downsides scare you off from the potential of functional foods. The big thing is to try to avoid people selling cure-all diets specifically from their own stock. A true functional food is going to be healthy as long as it is grown well and you get it relatively fresh with most of the nutrients intact. Try talking to your doctor when you’re trying to test out functional foods. They may have ideas of foods you can focus on that will support your particular health needs. It will help provide the focus that functional foods need to actually provide meaningful support to your health. Also, don’t view functional foods as a miraculous way to turn that area of your health around. They exist to supplement and support other methods of maintaining good health.

Functional foods are really just another way of highlight that particular foods are better for certain aspects of your health. It is unfortunate that some people choose to capitalize on this potential usefulness of tailoring your diet to support your health for their own gain. You should have no difficulty figuring out how to make use of the growing interests in functional foods in a healthy way. Just stay aware and remember to talk to your doctor when making major shifts in your lifestyle.

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