Functional foods include supplements, herbs, phytochemicals, or nutraceuticals. Several claims have been postulated regarding functional foods. While some claims are backed by research studies, some have not yet been proven. Certain functional foods are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. However, this regulatory control and oversight is somewhat limited because of the wide range of legal loopholes. Consequently, companies utilize creative marketing to sell such products. Only a small amount of active chemicals present in functional foods have been tested for their probable role in the prevention of disease. This means that there could be potential problems associated with functional foods.
One of the key potential problems is the possibility of functional foods interacting with medications or physical conditions. For example, Kava, an herb that is thought to help in relaxation, has been associated with severe liver damage, cirrhosis, liver failure, and hepatitis. It is therefore advisable for anyone with liver issues or taking any medication that could affect the liver to consult with the doctor prior to taking kava. Overdosing is another potential problem. It is possible to overdose on supplements and herbs, which could cause health problems.
Purity is another potential issue associated with functional foods. Herbs and supplements are often unregulated. This means that their purity and strength may be unknown. Several research studies have shown that the ingredients listed may be missing or even inactive. For instance, a recent study revealed that black cohosh samples contained Asian cohosh instead of black cohosh. Finally, some herbs and supplements are associated with severe side effects. Supplements and additives can cause allergic reactions just like prescription drugs.