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Nutraceuticals and Hydroponics

Nutraceuticals and Hydroponics (TH)

  • Context: Simply Fresh- a hydroponic farm factory has found that the medicinal produce grown hydroponically has three times more alkaloid content than field-grown plants.
  • The list of medicinal plants grown by for nutraceutical extracts includes high curcumin content turmeric, ashwagandha, ginger, safed, musli, shatavari, bacopa, Centella asiatica, holy basil, Gymnema sylvestre and Phyllanthus amarus.
  • These serve as raw material for nutraceutical companies.

Analysis

What are Nutraceuticals?

  • Nutraceuticals – “nutrient” (a nourishing food component) and “pharmaceutical” (a medical drug) – is a broad umbrella term that is used to describe any product derived from food sources with extra health benefits in addition to the basic nutritional value found in foods.
  • They can be considered non-specific biological therapies used to promote general well-being, control symptoms and prevent malignant processes.
  • Nutraceuticals, which have also been called medical foods, designer foods, phytochemicals, farmaceuticals, functional foods and nutritional supplements, include such everyday products as “bio” yoghurts and fortified breakfast cereals, as well as vitamins, herbal remedies and even genetically modified foods and supplements.
  • Functional food is a category which includes whole foods and fortified, enriched or enhanced dietary components that may reduce the risk of chronic disease and provide a health-benefit beyond the traditional nutrients it contains.
  • Medical food is formulated to be consumed or administered internally, under the supervision of a qualified physician. Its intended use is a specific dietary management of a disease or condition for which distinctive nutritional requirements are established by the medical evaluation (on the basis of recognized scientific principle).
  • Farmaceuticals are medically valuable components produced from modified agricultural crops or animals. The term is a combining of the words “farm” and “pharmaceuticals”.

Potential health benefits

  • They could have a role in a plethora of biological processes, including antioxidant defenses, cell proliferation, gene expression, and safeguarding of mitochondrial integrity.
  • Therefore, nutraceuticals may be used to improve health, prevent chronic diseases, postpone the aging process (and in turn increase life expectancy), or just support functions and integrity of the body. They are considered to be healthy sources for prevention of life threatening diseases such as diabetes, renal and gastrointestinal disorders, as well as different infections.
  • A wide range of nutraceuticals have been shown to impose crucial roles in immune status and susceptibility to certain disease states. They also exhibit diseases modifying indications related to oxidative stress including allergy, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, eye conditions, Parkinson’s diseases and obesity.

Regulations in India

  • In India FSSAI (FOOD SAFETY AND STANDARDS AUTHORITY OF INDIA) regulates and set product standards regarding Nutraceuticals.
  • Standards for Health supplements and Nutraceuticals are specified under Food Safety and Standards (Health Supplements, Nutraceuticals, Food for Special Dietary Use, Food for Special Medical Purpose, Functional Food, and Novel Food) Regulations, 2016.
  • These regulations cover eight categories of Functional foods, namely, Health Supplements, Nutraceuticals, Food for Special Dietary Use, Food for Special Medical Purpose, Specialty food containing plant or botanicals, Foods containing Probiotics, Foods containing Prebiotics and Novel Foods.

Note: Functional Foods have not been added under these.

Hydroponics

  • Hydroponics is a simple technique in which the plants are grown using water instead of soil.
  • It is a subset of hydroculture.
  • Mineral nutrient solutions are used as water solvent.
  • Plants grow through a process called photosynthesis, in which they use sunlight and a chemical inside their leaves called chlorophyll to convert carbon dioxide (a gas in the air) and water into glucose (a type of sugar) and oxygen.
  • There’s no mention of “soil” anywhere in there—and that’s all the proof you need that plants can grow without it.
  • What do plant need- is water and nutrients, both easily obtained from soil. But if they can get these things somewhere else—say, by standing with their roots in a nutrient-rich solution—they can do without soil altogether. That’s the basic principle behind hydroponics.

Benefits

  • The increased control over growing conditions makes it easier to provide the best possible environment for plant, leading to better quality produce and high yield.
  • The production in hydroponics may be increased approximately two times as compared with soil cultivation in a comparable area with because the plant does not have to compete for moisture and nutrients.
  • A small hydroponics garden can be set up almost anywhere even in upstairs balconies and open area and protected structures because the land is not necessary. (Urban Farming)
  • Hydroponics produce generally tastes better and is higher in nutritional value than field-grown crops.
  • Plant grow 50% faster than soil has grown under the same condition because of the easy access to food and water.
  • The occurrence of soil born disease and nematode damage is not possible, so hydroponic production is exported safely. (Easily meets WTO-phyto-sanitary standards)
  • Water wastage reduce to the minimum.
  • There is no need for crop rotations as growing media can be reused continuously or replaced.
  • The plants are uniform in growth and maturity.

 

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