EKPOMA – A nutrition expert, Prof. Marshal Azeke has stressed the need for people to consume supplements with caution due to its possible side effects and dangers to vital organs of the human body.

He instead recommended regular consumption of foods rich in antioxidants as part of healthy diet; as well as regular exercises.

Azeke, a professor of nutrition made the assertions while delivering the 95th Inaugural Lecture of the Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma, Edo State, titled; “Functional Foods: Making Food Your Medicine”, at the main campus of the university in Ekpoma.

Prof. Azeke explained that though many of the supplements or extracts contained antioxidants, they could also have other uncharacterized phytochemicals in concentrations higher than liver and kidney thresholds.

According to him, antioxidants in their natural environment contained phytochemicals that were less than the threshold of the liver and kidney, hence the need for consumption foods rich in antioxidants.

“The use of these extracts or concentrations should be with caution. Some of these extracts may contain antioxidants and other yet uncharacterized phytochemicals in concentrations higher than the liver and kidney thresholds.

“Considering the potential risk involved, it is hereby recommended that antioxidants rich food be regularly consumed as part of healthy diets. This is because, in their natural environment, the phytochemicals are present in concentrations that are not above the liver thresholds,

“Besides, depending mainly on extracts, concentrates, and supplements for nutraceuticals will deprive the consumers the health benefits of other food components such as dietary fibres. We should consume healthy functional foods as our medicine in order to reduce the risk of taking medicine as our food”, he advised.

He similarly cautioned against the consumption o f processed food, and called on the government to come up with deliberate policies that would check the activities of producers of supplements and extracts to ensure they do not contain phytochemicals that are harmful to the body.

He defined functional food as any food or food ingredient that may provide a health benefit beyond the traditional nutrients it contains; pointing out for instance that the lycopene in tomatoes reduces the risk of cancer incidences like prostate, ovarian, gastric and pancreatic cancers.

Speaking on oxidative stress, he explained that it was harmful because it gives room for oxygen free radicals to attack biological molecules such as lipids, protein, and DNA; but added that it could be useful in some instances, as it induces apoptosis to prepare the birth canal for delivery and also strengthens biological defence mechanisms during infection, appropriate physical exercise and ischemia.