Functional nutrition is a fundamental part of functional medicine that considers a holistic approach to eating habits based on lifestyle factors, food choices, environment, level of activity, and consideration of chronic diseases or disorders. Hence, Functional Nutritionists highly regard functional foods to not only address inflammation but also lower the risk of cancer.

Several reactive oxygen species are produced as a result of regular aerobic metabolism. These species, predominantly superoxide, hydrogen peroxide, and hydroxyl radicals can promote inflammation, aging, degenerative diseases, and cancer by oxidation of DNA, Lipids, and proteins. Functional nutrition often focuses on “functional” foods to ensure that the body receives enough nutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins to fight off infections, free radicals, and harmful factors that lead to inflammation. These types of food assert a “chemo-preventive” measure for long-term health benefits.

Here are some functional foods, their sources, and benefits:

Alpha-Carotene, Astaxanthin, and Beta-Carotene: Alpha-carotene is an antioxidant found in yellow-orange and dark green vegetables. In moderate doses, Alpha-Carotene can enhance gap-junctional intercellular communication. This enables tissue homeostasis, improved electrical synapses, and improved coordination of cellular responses to hormones.

Beta-Carotene is also an antioxidant found in orange, yellow, or green leafy vegetables and has similar benefits on the body.

Astaxanthin is found in green algae, salmon, and trout with a range of anti-inflammatory effects.

Beta-Cyptoxanthin: This antioxidant is found in orange fruits and has anti-inflammatory effects on the body.

Canthaxanthin: Generally found in Salmon and crustacea, this antioxidant inhibits free radical activities and prevents reactive oxygen species from damaging cells and tissues.

Lycopene: Lycopene is an antioxidant found in tomatoes, watermelons, apricot, and peaches. Numerous scientific evidence points to the fact that Lycopene inhibits cell growth of numerous human cancer cell lines.

Fucoxanthin: Antioxidant found in brown algae, helps to reduce inflammation.

Flavonoids: Antioxidants found in different kinds of plant-based food products, for instance: herbal tea. In several studies, Flavonoids have shown great promise to prevent inflammation and cancer in humans.

Lutein: Another antioxidant found in dark green leafy vegetables. Lutein plays a major role in cell cycle progression and can halt the growth of numerous cancer cell lines.

Isothiocyanates: These are antibacterial compounds present in broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. However, various studies show that they are capable of lowering the risk of inflammation and cancers of various organs like the lung, breast, liver, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and colon.

Probiotics: Probiotics are commonly found in yogurt and fermented foods. They have anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory roles and may also help prevent cancer.

Phyto-estrogens: Phyto-estrogens are found in Soya and may help prevent breast cancer. They are basically of three types: isoflavones (genistein, daidzein, glycitein, or equol), lignans (enterolactone or enterodiol), and coumestans (coumestrol).

Fiber: Fiber is found in most foods (like vegetables and cereal). Fiber has been found to lower the risk of colon and prostate cancer.

Omega-3: Omega-3 is found in fish and fish oil. Omega-3 may help lower cholesterol, manage the immune system and reduce inflammation. However, research suggests that omega-3 may help prevent prostate cancer.

If you wish to receive the health benefits of functional foods and wish to receive expert health advice from a professional Functional Nutritionist, please contact The Functional Medicine Center for Personalized Care, LLC ( at 201-880-8247 or Specialized Therapy Associates at 201-488-6678 for our Integrative Mind-Body Health services. Our Integrative Mind-Body Health services also incorporate Acupuncture, Functional Nutrition, IV Nutrition, Health Coaching, Exercise, Yoga, and Mind-Body Psychotherapy to support holistic healing and recovery.



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