Upon a casual glance, the idea of “chemical compounds” in your food might raise eyebrows. Yet, what if I told you these compounds are prevalent in nearly every food on shelves of your local produce section today? What’s more, they play a critical role in optimizing your overall health.
Phytonutrients, often called plant compounds, are natural chemicals that plants produce. These phytonutrients, including carotenoids, antioxidants, resveratrol, ellagic acid, and many others, are renowned for their multifaceted health-enhancing properties.
Phytonutrients are the very source of the vibrant colors of fruits and vegetables. This distinctive feature makes phytonutrient-rich foods easy to identify and effortless to incorporate into the daily diet promoted on the 7 Systems Plan. In this article, we’ll dig into the world of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, identifying the best sources and discovering how to ensure you get ample quantities of these vital compounds daily.
The Magic of Phytonutrients
Food isn’t merely your body’s primary energy source; it’s a complex source of essential chemicals that drive numerous bodily functions. These chemicals fall into three distinct nutrient categories:
- micronutrients (comprising vitamins and minerals)
- macronutrients (including fat, carbohydrates, and proteins)
- phytonutrients, the subject of our discussion.
Phytonutrients, or phytochemicals, are naturally synthesized by plants, serving as their primary defense mechanisms against germs, fungi, and diseases. This property empowers them with remarkable antioxidant capabilities, invaluable in limiting damage inflicted by free radicals—more on those shortly.
The rich, vibrant hues of fruits and vegetables are a testament to their phytonutrient content. These compounds extend their presence into various herbs, spices, seeds, and nuts. In this article, we’ll explore the world of phytonutrients, uncover the diverse range of foods that contain these invaluable compounds, and learn how to incorporate them into your dietary regimen seamlessly. But first, let’s answer the fundamental question: What are phytonutrients?
Guardians of Plant Health
Plants often thrive in harsh, unpredictable conditions, facing challenges from pests and volatile climates. Compounding this, modern cultivation practices prioritize rapid growth, increased size, heightened pest resistance, and diminishing natural plant defenses.
Phytochemicals act as a plant’s immune system. When a plant detects a foreign threat, such as a pest, phytochemicals mobilize to fend off the intruder, much like your immune system combats viruses and bacteria.
There are over 1,000 distinct phytonutrients, each with unique properties. While they are naturally present in nearly every plant, specific types are characteristic of particular plant families.
Phytonutrients provide significant protective power due to their antioxidant qualities, contributing to a healthy inflammatory response. Their consumption triggers enzyme production, bolstering the immune system, aiding detoxification, repairing DNA following toxin exposure, improving cardiovascular health, facilitating optimal estrogen metabolism, and detoxifying specific carcinogens.
Phytonutrients differ from micronutrients and macronutrients in that the body doesn’t require them for basic survival. However, they are just as critical to your health because they combat free radicals and counteract the effects of oxidative stress. After all, we aspire not merely to exist but to thrive in optimal health.
Free Radicals and Oxidative Stress: The Battle Within
Everything, including the cells within the body, is comprised of atoms. These atoms consist of a nucleus, composed of protons and neutrons, encircled by electrons in constant motion, typically paired with other electrons.
Stable atoms are those with the required number of electrons. In contrast, atoms with an odd number of electrons become unstable, actively seeking to obtain a spare electron to achieve stability. To acquire the missing electron and regain stability, these atoms become free radicals, which endeavor to steal electrons from healthy cells, causing damage in the process.
Picture these damaged cells, or free radicals, as rust particles coursing through your bloodstream, inciting inflammation—a phenomenon called oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress occurs when there’s an imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals. As mentioned, free radicals are atoms searching for spare electrons to attain electron pairs. Antioxidants are crucial in supplying these extra electrons, preventing harm to healthy cells.
However, when the scales tip in favor of free radicals, they begin wreaking havoc on cells, proteins, and your DNA. Over time, this persistent damage can pave the way for a host of diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.
Your body generates antioxidants internally to combat free radicals. Nonetheless, this natural antioxidant production can be hampered by autoimmune conditions, medication, stress, trauma, aging, infection, poor dietary choices, pollution, and radiation.
To ensure your body has ample antioxidants to thwart free radicals, it’s essential to turn to dietary and lifestyle choices. Plants containing phytonutrients emerge as excellent sources of antioxidants.
Research reviews have shown that lacking fruits and vegetables is a significant risk factor for many health complications. A recent analytical study of over 142 research publications found that the most considerable reductions in health risks were associated with individuals who ate roughly ten servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
I try to hit this mark, but I admit it is not always easy. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a simple way to ensure you get enough phytonutrients?
Discover Fruits and Greens – Concentrated fruits and vegetables and a lot more.
Phytonutrients are instrumental in combatting the effects of free radicals and form an integral part of a health-focused diet. Fruits and vegetables represent exceptional sources of these invaluable compounds. Regrettably, modern farming practices and environmental pollution have depleted the phytonutrient content in our food.
This gap is where NutriDyn Fruits and Greens steps in. I use one scoop daily to ensure I receive optimal amounts of essential phytonutrients.
Don’t just exist—thrive in a state of health.
For your health,
Video of the Week
Recipe of the Week
Teresa’s 7 Systems Kitchen
NutriDyn Coca Bites
- ¼ cup coconut oil from Thrive Market
- 1 heaping scoop Chocolate OR Espresso NutriDyn Fruits and Greens
- Optional: Organic Almond Butter from Thrive Market
1. Melt coconut oil in a glass container in a hot water bath. (Do not microwave)
For the hot water bath: heat 1-2 inches of water in a small saucepan on the stove top. I put the coconut oil into a small glass measuring cup to melt, the spout on the cup makes it easier to pour into the molds. Heat, stirring occasionally, until just melted.
2. Add 1 heaping scoop of the NutriDyn Fruits and Greens and mix well.
3. Pour mixture into silicone mold.
4. Optional: My favorite is to add 1/4 teaspoon almond butter in the center of the bite. To accomplish this, pour a small amount of the chocolate flavored mix into the mold, add the almond butter and then pour more of the chocolate mix on top.
5. Refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes. Best if served directly from the refrigerator.
6. The prettiest way to serve is to turn upside down in 1.25 inch paper baking cup. I used different colored papers for different flavors.
Makes 12 to 15 bites. Approximately 50 calories/bite.
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