I must admit that sometimes my profession can be entertaining.
For example, when I ask a new client, “How’s your diet?” I’m either going to get the doe in the headlights look, or they’ll look down at the floor, or they’ll say something like, “Um, well, not bad.”
When I hear that, I know it’s bad!
Now, typically when people come to me to improve their health, they want an answer to the magic question: “What’s the most important thing I should be doing?”
Although that sounds like a loaded question, the answer is quite simple:
Rely on the farmer and not the pharmacist.
In other words, EAT REAL FOOD!
So much more than vitamins
Most people are aware that a healthy diet of real foods provides vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, glucose and fiber that your body needs.
And it's virtually impossible for even the best supplement to undo the effects of a poor diet.
But that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Because there is another group of nutrients from your foods that continues to emerge left and right to the tune of over 2,000 so far.
They're not even recognized a "formal" nutrient category and no RDAs (recommended daily allowances) have been established for them, but their benefits to your body and overall health are enormous and well-documented.
I'm talking about phytonutrients.
And considering how vital they are to your health; you should be talking about them too.
Here’s what you need to know.
What are phytonutrients anyway?
Simply put, "phyto" means plant, and phytonutrients are active compounds or substances in plants that provide health benefits to your body.
They do this so well because they've had good training by protecting themselves first!
You see, like us, plants are exposed to things like damaging radiation, pollution and various toxins that can spur the development of free radicals in their cells.
Since plants can't move around and "run away" from these harmful forces, Nature has provided them with a way to protect themselves--in the form of compounds called phytonutrients.
And when we humans eat plants and their phytonutrients, they give US the same protection as well!
It's all in the family
Just over the last 30 years, 2,000+ phytonutrients have been identified, and some researchers believe that as many as 40,000 of them will someday be identified.
The most common phytonutrient families are terpenes, phenols, and organosulfur compounds.
Here is a brief description of each, what foods they're in and most importantly, how they help create a healthier YOU:
The terpenes include carotenoids, limonoids and coumarins.
Carotenoids are found in orange, red and pink vegetables and fruits including tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, bell peppers and watermelon. They provide your body with a source of Vitamin A, protect your cells from free radical damage, enhance your immune system function, and promote eye and lung health.
Limonoids are found in citrus fruits and they're what gives oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit their unique smell. They are cancer fighters, have been shown to help lower cholesterol and may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.
Coumarins are natural blood thinners that are found in parsley, celery and citrus fruits. They also have been shown to enhance the activity of certain immune "defender" cells that target and eliminate potentially dangerous cells (including cancer).
The phenols are made up of the anthocyanidins, the catechins, the well-known flavonoids and the isoflavones.
Anthocyanidins give blueberries and grapes their deep, blue/purple colors and the catechins give the slightly bitter taste and tawny color to teas and wines. Both of these groups are impressive antioxidants, especially the anthocyanidins--they are estimated to be 50 TIMES STRONGER an antioxidant than both Vitamins C and E!
Flavonoids are probably the most well-known phytonutrients. They help protect your blood vessels, prevent chronic inflammation in your body (which can lead to atherosclerosis and joint pain) and enhance the power of Vitamin C that you take in. Flavonoids are abundant in fruits, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, celery and cucumbers.
The isoflavones are found in legumes, beans, broccoli and celery. They have been shown to protect against certain hormone-dependent cancers, especially breast cancer.
3- Organosulfur compounds
These include the glucosinolates and indoles that come from cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, arugula, turnip, cauliflower, rutabaga and kale, as well as allylic sulfides from garlic and onions.
Organosulfur compounds have been shown to help support your body's ability to detoxify dangerous foreign substances like pesticides and environmental toxins.
All pretty impressive feats from humble little plants, wouldn't you say?
But what if I get too much?
Since there are no RDAs for phytonutrients, some people have been concerned about getting too many and whether that would be harmful.
This is an area where Nature takes care of us, my friend.
As long as your phytonutrients come from real foods, there is virtually no risk of getting too many!
About the worst thing that could happen to you is if you ate a head of raw garlic to get some organosulfur compounds, your breath might send people running for the hills.
Or if you went on a carrot-eating rampage for carotenoids, you could get a temporary orange tint to the palms of your hands.
On the other hand, taking the “easy way out”—eating whatever junk you want and gulping massive amounts of supplements—can blow up in your face.
For example, the carotenoids have been shown to promote lung health, so beta-carotene supplements have been an attractive option for smokers. However, studies have shown an INCREASED risk of lung cancer in smokers who take MASSIVE doses of beta-carotene supplements!
It's as easy as 1, 2, 3
The great news is that it's not hard to reap the impressive health benefits of phytonutrients.
As a matter of fact, it's as easy as 1, 2, 3:
1- Eat a wide variety of REAL foods, preferably organic when you can, to get the best cross-representation of all the phytonutrients your body needs.
2- Keep digestion efficient to maximize phytonutrient absorption.
3- Have a properly balanced gut microbiome.
Here's how you can accomplish each of those:
What to eat and how to eat it (numbers 1 and 2)
For guidance in eating a wide variety of real foods that are not only nourishing but taste great, as well as keep digestion efficient, look no further than my Great Taste No Pain health system.
Great Taste No Pain will show you delicious ways to enjoy real foods that are jam-packed with phytonutrients to help make sure your body is getting what it needs to stay healthy.
And since Great Taste No Pain also teaches you what foods to eat together to keep digestion smooth and efficient, you'll also be helping your body absorb those phytonutrients!
Balance your microbiome (number 3)
Your gut microbiome helps your body digest certain foods and fibers and keeps your gut wall healthy--both of which are essential for proper nutrient absorption.
Problem is, people who have had a diet of processed junk, soda and lots of refined carbs have fed the harmful bacteria in their guts while the good guys starve...and are likely looking at a serious imbalance as a result.
And even if you've had a decent diet, other factors like medication use (especially antacids and antibiotics), stress and lack of sleep can make your microbiome topsy-turvy.
So the best way to restore and maintain a healthy flora balance is with a full-spectrum probiotic formula like Super Shield.
Super Shield's effective blend of 13 well-studied probiotic strains will help support a strong gut wall, enhance nutrient absorption, keep your BMs regular and encourage strong immune function too!
Put the power of phytonutrients to work for you and reap the benefits for years to come.
To your health,Sherry Brescia