What Are Phytonutrients?
They are some of the most potent compounds on the planet.
There are many subcategories of phytonutrients, like flavonoids, which have many subclasses. However, for this article, I’m going to talk about phytonutrients as an umbrella term.
When people are on the Type 2 Diabetes continuum, which ranges from being overweight all the way to insulin dependent, they are more susceptible to other illnesses such as: cancer, Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, heart disease, nerve damage, stroke, autoimmune disease, GI issues etc.
Phytonutrients help fix the damage that’s been done as long as the offending foods and lifestyle choices have been removed, such as animal products, stress and poor sleep. They fight inflammation, heart disease, and cancer. They promote brain health, gut health and are good for every cell of the body. They even help to lower blood sugar levels.
Phytonutrients are only found in plants such as: fruits, veggies, legumes, lentils, seeds, nuts, spices, herbs, teas and whole, unprocessed grains. According to bestselling author and long-time expert Dr. Dean Ornish, “plants contain more than 100,000 phytonutrients”. When you see the yellow of a banana, the red of a strawberry or the green of kale, you are looking at phytonutrients ready to wage war on any harmful microorganism running through your system.
Because of phytonutrients, plants contain 64 times more antioxidants than animal foods.
Another fun fact: phytonutrients are the basis of over 40% of pharmaceuticals today. Do you think the pharmaceutical companies make them better? Why aren’t we just eating more of these amazing plants to ramp up our health, while cutting our medicine usage and costs way down?
BENEFITS OF PHYTONUTRIENTS:
- Anti-inflammatory: they decrease inflammation and protect against oxidative damage
- They protect the heart by helping to prevent cardiovascular disease
- They’re good for the brain and help improve cognitive function
- They fight cancer by having antioxidant capabilities which induce cancer cell death and suppress the spread of invasiveness of unhealthy cells
- They may help strengthen bones by preventing osteoporosis
- They help support healthy blood sugar control
- They help to lower blood pressure
- They help to lower cholesterol
FOODS HIGHEST IN PHYTONUTRIENTS:
Red bell peppers
Every plant has its own diverse collection of phytonutrients, so it’s especially important to eat a diverse plant-filled diet. Studies have shown that those with the healthiest gut microbiome (in which 70+% of your immune system resides), eat 30 DIFFERENT plants per WEEK. This also affects your metabolism and bioavailability of those healthy phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals.
Here’s a fun challenge: see how many different plant foods YOU eat in a 7-day period. Along with that, see how many different plant colors you can get on your plate (red, yellow, green, orange, blue and purple). Each and every color represents a warrior protecting your health.
One thing to note: dairy can inhibit the antioxidant capacity of flavonoids (a phytonutrient).
There’s a common denominator in foods that contain phytonutrients —fiber. Fiber is a carbohydrate. Many people have developed a fear of carbs based on poor science and the meat industry doing their best to get us to eat more of their products. It’s my hope that after reading this article, you understand the importance of eating more plants. As the plants move in, the animal products move out. Only then will you have the warriors ramped up inside each of your cells to do battle against any enemies that may lurk.
And, remember, variety is key so eat plants, plants and more plants.
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