Welcome to the Traditional Power of Whole Plant Foods
Welcome to our nature’s world called PHYTONUTRITION … Optimum quality biological fuel …never a fuel shortage.
This word may not be found in the dictionary, but it’s a word that should be shouted from the rooftops.
Phytonutrients or phytochemicals are abundant micro-nutrients found in plants … in leaves, stems, and roots. Plants use them for protection from the environment, and now bio-scientists are recommending them for protection in humans.
Our botanical pharmacology contains more than 500,000 plant species. Of that number, only a mere 10% have been investigated from a phytochemical or pharmacological point of view.
Natural plant profiles support the levels of biochemicals used in human metabolism. Take the example of a class of phytonutrients called flavanoids. These are water soluble plant pigments that give color to plants. It is estimated there are 20,000 flavanoids but only 4000 have been chemically analyzed. They include terms such as pectins, carotenoids, terpenes, glycogens, coumarins, catechins and isoflavones. Their function is primarily as anti-oxidants to help protect the liver, maintain normal hormone levels and brain health.
What is a symbol of a typical phytonutrient?
Write and circle these letters: O for Oxygen and H for hydrogen
OH … OH … OH … OH … OH
OOO … HH
In fact, there are obvious similar structural elements between vitamins, anti-oxidants and phytonutrients. This affinity definitely begs further illumination of what food source best provides these elements for healthy structure and function of cells.
The increasing good news is that hundreds of long term research studies show the role of phytonutrients in the prevention of degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular, cancer, chronic inflammation, asthma, liver disease and more. They, too, help to correct a biochemical problem at the cellular level which is the root of most diseases. They maintain hormones, tissues, muscles, neurotransmitters and gene expressions.
For example, there are many studies about sulphorane, a phytonutrient found in cruciferous vegetables. Research shows the prevention of certain cancers by aiding the proper metabolism of estrogens. It helps to naturally detoxify enzymes in the body and lowers blood pressure. It was noted in the 1950’s that guinea pigs fed a cabbage diet better survived radiation treatments than guineas pigs. Next time you eat broccoli or brussel sprouts, visualize the sulphorane molecules building healthy cells.
You may be delighted to indulge in dark chocolate which contains flavonols with a special compound called epicatechin antioxidant properties that can help your cardiovascular system .
The Kuna people of Panama drink up to 40 cups of coca a week and have less than 10% risk of stroke, cancer and diabetes. Unfortunately, epicatechin is removed from commercial cocoas because it tends to have a bitter taste. Choose high quality dark chocolate that use the least destructive processing techniques and preserve the highest levels of the beneficial polyphenolic bioflavanoids that are naturally present in cocoa.
Generally speaking, dark, organic chocolate contains the most flavonols, but the best choice would be raw cacao, which is relatively bitter because it doesn’t have sugar in it.
Many new clinical studies proclaim the benefits of whole foods. For example, blueberries by virtue of plant pigments called anthocyanins have 2400 times the anti-oxidant power of Vitamin A. There are 40 anthocyanins and maybe 300 other compounds working together.
Check out www.naturaldatabase.com. This is Natural Medicines comprehensive database which provides objective information about any ingredient and level of effectiveness for various health concerns
Phytonutrition is all about Variety and Synergy
…would you eat a poly-meal or take a poly-pill?
Grandma may always have told you to eat your vegetables but she many not have told you about the whole food spectrum with more than a hundred different phytochemicals in just one serving of vegetable.
Note the USDA (U S Department of Agriculture) statement: ”it appears that an effective strategy of supporting health is to increase consumption of phytonutrient rich food. Unfortunately, it is estimated that nearly 70% of what we eat is processed foodstuffs with chemicals that are unknown to the human cells.” Check out report: Phytonutrients are Good for Bone Health
Phytonutrition Matters Every Day
Slice a whole tomato with hundreds of biochemical nutrients. Rinse spinach with hundreds of biochemical nutrients. Now prepare a meal with a protein source with combined tomatoes and spinach with onions, olive oil and a sprinkle of walnuts. The synergy increases with additional sources.
Eat a couple florets of broccoli … you are not only getting beta carotene (versus a pill), but also you’re getting the health benefits of hundreds if not thousands of other phytonutrients that haven’t even been named yet.
It is with just cause that the Cancer Institute and the Heart Institute recommend eating a variety of vegetables 5 to 7 times a day or more.
Nutritional sciences now recommend a full spectrum of nutrients every day in a balanced ration providing the range of vitamins, all minerals, amino acids, enzymes, co-factors. It’s a tall order but your health depends on it and the best way to deliver it is by eating whole foods. Perhaps you should question how a single part ( a vitamin or a mineral) can be as beneficial as the whole food. It is no longer reasonable to assume that a single substance whether nutrient, pill or drug, can aid or fix the body’s interdependent systems.
Just imagine that our medical timeline is 24 hours old. Nutritional sciences and research have emerged in the last 2 or 3 minutes. Many doctors believe that the greatest advances in medicine over the next few years are going to be in nutritional sciences.
It’s interesting to note that there is a kind of “phyto info” war going on. On one side are pill manufacturers trying to extract, package and promote phytonutrients as ‘Cure-Alls.” There are at least 36 companies trying to reproduce the phytochemical called lycopene in a bottle.
How effective is the process of extracting one “buzzword” nutrient? On the other side, you can ask “What’s wrong with just eating a whole tomato?”
Lastly, this is a good rule for your skin: If you can’t it eat it … don’t put it on your body.
You can beautify your skin with whole foods loaded with natural anti-oxidants and phytonutrients. After all, your skin is your body’s largest organ. It provides a barrier of protection from outside threats and also reflects the state of your overall health. Be highly selective of skin care products that contain potential toxins that could be absorbed into your bloodstream and right into your tissues.
Examples: paraben (can drive the growth of human breast tumors), phthalates (plasticizing ingredients linked to reproductive defects, mercury (listed as “thimerosal”), artificial fragrances (among the top five known allergens) and petroleum byproducts.
Personal care products are a $50-billion industry in the United States, yet the U.S. government doesn’t require any mandatory testing for these products before they hit store shelves.
Choose a Whole Plant Foods Shopping List
Purchase fresh food … make an investment in health
Imagine if millions of shopping carts are filled up with whole foods along the perimeters of stores. (Wouldn’t a few corporate heads start to take notice …the power of the well-informed consumer?)
Absolutely believe that whole foods are a major source of your health promoting phytochemicals. Eat a variety of foods. red, green and yellow. For example, a combination of tomatoes and broccoli are more effective than just eating either vegetable alone or taking a lycopene supplement. Especially, seek out organically grown foods and organic meats and wild fish.
Make sure your weekly shopping list includes some of the top 10 anti-oxidant foods as listed out of 100 different types of food: small red beans, wild blueberries, red kidney beans, pinto beans, cultivated blueberries, cranberries, artichokes, blackberries, prunes and raspberries.
Be sure to also include the most phyto-dense good sources such as soy, tomatoes, broccoli, garlic, flax seed, citrus fruits, melons, grapefruit, blueberries, sweet potatoes, chili peppers and legumes (beans lentils).
Pay special attention to inexpensive legumes that are plants with seed pods that can split into two halves. They are rich in plant protein (substituted for meat protein), essential minerals, micro-nutrients, dietary soluble fiber and are low on the glycemic index value scale which means they are less likely to raise blood glucose and insulin .They are a good source of Folate which helps to lower homocystein levels associated with cardiovascular problems.
Don’t forget a weekly supply of raw nuts. Best food sources include almonds, Brazils, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans and walnuts. They are rich in unsaturated fats that lower cholesterol. They contain other healthy nutrients such as magnesium, copper, zinc, potassium, fiber, folic acid, and arginine (an amino acid that helps to keep arteries clear.) Walnuts are rich in alpha-linolenic acid and omega 3 fatty acids. Research shows eating 1.5 grams of walnuts daily may reduce the risk of heart disease. The US FDA allows these health benefits to be put on labels.
Treat yourself with pumpkin seeds. They are particularly nutrient dense with stores of protein, fiber, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, zinc, selenium, folate and niacin as will as arginine and linolenic acid. Sprinkle on salads, mix into casseroles, add to cookies, muffins and snacks.
Sometimes it’s interesting to think that a food product in nature cannot carry a label with health claims. In other words, if a product is found in nature, it can’t be patented to make drugs. Imagine if people turned to nutritional solutions for prevention of health problems … where are the profit margins for drugs?
You are ultimately responsible for your health, but not in an informational vacuum and not in the profit margins of conglomerates.
Marvel once more at the miracle of planting a seed and watching a plant develop out of the soil, minerals, water and air to transpose its nutrients to a healthy body. See Index, preface and disclaimer.
Comments are always welcome about your experiences within the amazing world of phytonutrients.
Fresh oregano is a great antibacterial agent with phytonutrients that can fight infections. It’s loaded with antioxidants that help prevent cell damage, and it’s an excellent source of fiber, vitamin K, vitamin E, manganese, iron and calcium. Oregano oil is recommended for sore throats, poor digestion, nasal congestion, muscle and joint pain. It seems to have antimicrobial properties that make its use a good preventive strategy.
And don’t forget to add to add it to any Italian sauces for warm pungent healthy flavoring.