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Modern food habits, vis-à-vis lifestyle, has started taking its toll in the form of obesity, depression, auto-immune diseases, spondylosis, arthritis, cardiac disorders, insomnia, cancer, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, osteoporosis and many other ailments. Keeping pace with the demand for lifestyle food, food companies are producing more and more synthetic food or processed food. This is one dimensional food, i.e. food for food's sake. We are on the verge of forgetting that food has other roles to serve in our body, mind and soul too. Food has other dimensions to act, i.e. to serve as medicine as well. The concept of functional food or nutraceuticals, though it sounds new, has its roots in the traditional food habits of great cultures like Indian, Chinese, Mediterranean or Greek, which have survived thousands of years of trials and errors. Hippocrates (c. 460 – c. 370 BC), the great Greek philosopher, had said
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”
Therefore, we should go back to basics and eat only food that possesses drug properties as well. A host of food plants are available around us which have the capacity to alleviate several modern day life-style diseases. The traditional ‘sāk’, ‘sabjee’ and whole grain foods are to name a few. The line between drug tablets and nutraceuticals is rapidly becoming narrower. The nutrients in cereals have shown to possess the property of reducing the risk of diabetes, coronary heart dysfunction, tumour incidence, higher blood cholesterol etc. The garlic has immunomodulatory function among other innumerable nutraceuticals. The sages of Rigveda have said,
“Plant! Thus I hail thee, the Divine Mother of mankind.” - Rigveda 10.97.4.
The authors in this book have tried their best to give glimpses of information about the medicinal plants surrounding us that have dietetic as well as antioxidant properties and tried to answer the moot question of sufferings of modern society.
Professor Dilip De Sarker (b.1955) joined as Lecturer in Botany in 1981 at Raiganj College (formerly known as University College). Within a short time, he earned reputation both in teaching and research. He was a bright student throughout his career and stood 1st in class in his graduation. Being a student of famous scientist, Professor A.K.Sharma, Dr. De Sarker started research in plant cytogenetics and later on shifted his attention to medicinal plants. He has guided several Ph.D. students and has 75 research articles and two books to his credit. He has delivered many lectures in India and abroad. He was a British Council Research Fellow in 1995 and did collaborative research at Jodrel Laboratory, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, U.K. (he can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Manas Ranjan Saha (b.1986) is currently a research associate at Bio-informatics Centre, North Bengal University. Mr. Saha has surveyed more than hundred plants with reference to antioxidant activity, anti-carcinogenic property, and anti-diabetic property. The results of the findings have been included in this publication. He is a devoted research worker who also works in bio-informatics and is pursuing his Ph.D. at North Bengal University.
Subrata Saha (b.1969) is an assistant Professor at Raiganj University, West Bengal. He did his post-graduation at North Bengal University. A social worker by nature, he has contributed to various social programmes including health issues of the poor. He has several international and national research publications.