Phytonutrients: Your Secret Weapon For Health And Vitality

Imagine if you could wake up and have as much energy as a morning deer, bounding joyfully beside a mountain stream. Sounds impossible, right? Well, not so fast. All you have to do is think about what that dear is eating. 

Is it sitting down to a massive plate of bacon, sausages and fried bread in the morning? No. 

Is it munching its way through bags of chips all day while sitting in front of an office computer? No. 

Is it ordering pizzas from Uber Eats? No. 

Instead, it’s feeding on the produce of the forest. It’s eating leaves, roots, berries and whatever other foliage it can find. And that’s how it always manages to seem so energetic, joyful and majestic. It’s living in harmony with its natural environment, eating foods packed with chemicals that assist its body. 

What Are Phytonutrients? 
These chemicals are called phytonutrients. You can think of them as all of the components of plant foods that aren’t carbs, fats, proteins, vitamins or minerals. These are things like the catechins in green tea or the cyanidins in berries. Lacking these components won’t lead to deficiencies. But if you don’t eat them from time to time, you are missing out. You won’t feel like the joyfully bounding mountain deer. 

Rheal Superfoods – a nutrition brand – goes into detail about the benefits of phytonutrients on its website. It turns out that special compounds in certain fruits and vegetables actually change your biochemistry, giving you energy levels that you thought were hitherto impossible. 

How Do Phytonutrients Support Your Body?

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Phytonutrients protect your body in multiple ways. Researchers believe that these nutrients trick your body into going into maintenance mode, helping to prevent cellular states that contribute to disease over time. 

For instance, some phytonutrients may have anti-cancer effects. Reviews suggest that certain phytonutrients found in turmeric, berries and chillies may help to prevent skin cancer from developing and act as a natural sunscreen. 

Other phytonutrients may slow the aging process. For instance, epicatechins in green and white tea, curcumin in turmeric, allicin and resveratrol in red grapes and peanuts, may actually activate longevity pathways.

Phytonutrients could also protect against disease – something that we’ve seen time and time again in the recent pandemic. Plant compounds may encourage the growth of immune supporting bacteria in the gut while reducing species that produce proinflammatory compounds. Moreover, eating berries and greens daily may actually increase the size of the thymus, an organ in the body responsible for producing pathogen-munching white blood cells. 

There are also alleged neuroprotective effects. For instance, people who get a lot of phytonutrients in their diet appear to be more resistant to diseases such as dementia and Parkinson’s. 

There is evidence that phytonutrients may also assist with disease treatment. For example, cheap compounds, such as quercetin in apples, and fisetin in strawberries may be able to remove cells that have gone haywire from the body, reducing disease in affected organs. 

To get more phytonutrients in your diet, eat plenty of pungent and brightly-coloured foods.

Hazel Newhouse

Hazel is a mum to 3 daughters and a son, she lives in Bedfordshire with her husband, kids and pets. Hazel has written for various publications, and regularly works alongside popular parenting and gardening brands.

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