A phytonutrient supplement is different from the average dietary supplement that contains vitamins and minerals. Phytonutrient supplements, contain Isoflavones, flavonoids and carotenoids found in plants and soy products instead of specific vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. While we need vitamins and minerals in order to survive, phytonutrients are not essential but are thought the improve health and prevent many diseases.
You can eat 3-7 servings of fruits and vegetables every day, which is the best way to get the phytonutrients that benefit our health. But what if you’re on a calorie restricted diet, you are diabetic, or you travel a lot and don’t have easy access to those foods? In such cases phytonutrient supplements can give you all the benefits of these natural chemicals without having to actually eat the foods that contain them. Phytonutrients are particularly important to people with arthritis, diabetes, and other chronic conditions or diseases; these conditions respond positively to the presence of phytonutrients in the system and can make chronic conditions more manageable and less painful.
For instance, if you have arthritis you should take a phytonutrient supplement to help relieve your pain and stiffness. Arthritis is caused by the breakdown of cartilage that cushions the joints as you move. When that cartilage is worn away by age or overuse the bones rub together, causing pain. The muscles and remaining cartilage become inflamed and swollen, which contributes to the constant ache that plagues arthritis sufferers. The anti-inflammatory properties of phytonutrients can substantially reduce discomfort due to arthritis and help improve mobility.
If you have a form of cardiac disease you’ll want to ask your doctor about taking a phytonutrient supplement. The natural, beneficial plant-produced chemicals are thought to benefit and possibly help prevent heart disease, although studies have not yet been completed. The good thing about phytonutrients is that they are not harmful.
Another good reason to take phytonutrient supplements is that our fruits and vegetables are often treated with harmful chemicals and even genetically modified to increase yield. No one knows what genetically modified foods will do to our brains and bodies a few decades from now but if you’d like to avoid the risk, phytonutrient supplements will help you control the influence of these potentially risky farming and food production methods.
Phytonutrient supplements usually come in the form of a pill or capsule but are also available as powders or liquids. If you don’t want to eat the actual plant foods to get important phytonutrients, you can get them in the form that is most convenient for you. If you normally mix up a protein shake or smoothie every day you will find the powder form convenient or you might want to add it in liquid form. If you travel a lot or are constantly on the go with a busy job or a home full of children you’ll probably find the pills or capsules more convenient.
You can live a better quality of life and quite possibly a longer one when you take a phytonutrient supplement. You’ll feel better and generally be healthier even in cold and flu season when you take a phytonutrient supplement.
Phytonutrients are found in plants and usually concentrated in the skins of fruits and vegetables; these elements are what give them their color, flavor and scent. Your grandmother may not have known why she encouraged you to eat apples, oranges, and other fruits but she and others have been proven right. The more colorful your vegetables and fruits, the better they are for you. You should eat at least 7 differently colored fruits and vegetables each day.
The reason that phytonutrients are so important is that they have been shown to prevent mutations of cells while others help our cells communicate with each other. Some act as anti-inflammatories; scientists are becoming convinced that heart disease is partially a result of general inflammation in the body. In fact, phytonutrients are being used in commercially produced medications that are prescribed to lower blood pressure, help with the pain of arthritis, and even in asthma medicine and those for other respiratory problems. Phytonutrients also help lower bad cholesterol, which protects your heart and overall health.
Phytonutrients help neutralize free radicals, which are naturally occurring chemicals that lead to premature aging and disease. They help boost the immune system and might even help prevent certain types of cancer. Recent research done on laboratory rats has shown that phytonutrient-rich blueberries and bilberries actually slowed aging in their brains as well as maintaining healthy vision.
Flavonoids are the phytonutrients that give fruits and vegetables their bright colors and protect them from disease, UV light, poisons, insects, and soil pollutants. They’re like an immune system for plants. They can also help prevent many diseases in humans, prevent cell damage, lower blood pressure and help stop nerves from deteriorating. They strengthen the walls of veins and arteries, reduce the build up of plaque in blood vessels and keep them flexible.
You can also find phytonutrients in whole grains, which means you can get them from healthy, whole grain breads and other baked products. If your gluten intolerant you can get phytonutrients in rice, quinoa, corn, millet and sorghum.
When you eat fruits and vegetables you get so many benefits from phytonutrients that it’s hard to list them all. You’ll be more resistant to disease, particularly viruses which are not treatable with modern drugs. There was a time when vitamin C was recommended for a cold or flu and it was thought that it could even prevent these diseases. Actually, people who ate citrus and other fruits were found to be healthier and had a lower incidence of colds and flu than those that did not. It’s still not clear if vitamin C itself or the actual fruits are the key to staying healthy in cold and flu season but eating citrus fruits are a delicious and healthy way to build up your immune system.
Phytonutrients refers to the thousands of chemicals contained in plants that protect them from bugs, germs, fungi and other natural threats. The word comes from combining the Greek “Phyto” which means plant with the English word “nutrient”. If Phytonutrients help to protect plants from natural hazards and help them thrive, it makes sense that as herbivores we would also benefit from them.
Common plant based foods are whole grains, nuts, beans, and tea. These are the foods that most people think are healthy and they are correct but there are a lot of other delicious sources of Phytonutrients. You don’t need Phytonutrients to survive but you do need the vitamins and minerals that plants contain. When you eat or drink these Phytonutrients they can help prevent disease and keep organs healthy and functioning well. There are more than 25,000 Phytonutrients in the plants and plant-based foods we eat.
Phytonutrients also contain antioxidants, carotene elements that convert to Vitamin A, anti-inflammatories and other elements that are not necessary but improve our health and general fitness.
There are 9 major classes of Phytonutrients:
- Lignans (Phytoestrogenes)
- Inositol Phosphates
- Phenols and Cyclic compounds
- Isothiocyanates and Indoles
- Sulfides and Thiols
- Flavonoids including Isoflavones
Some of these may be familiar to you through advertising and health bulletins while others are a mystery. All of them help to keep our organs healthy and improve our cardiac health. They are found in fruits and vegetables.
Carotenoids, for instance, protect our bodies from strokes; a person who has 3 servings a day of fruits and vegetables reduces their chance of stroke by 22%. Older men who eat dark green and yellow vegetables have been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks by a whopping 46%! Tomato products also contain Carotenoids and can reduce the incidence of prostate cancer while dark leafy greens reduce the chance of age related macular degeneration.
Flavonoids also appear to protect the heart according to medical research that has been done in the Netherlands, Finland, and the United States.
Average consumption of vegetable among Americans is 3.3 servings per day but only 0.2% of this consumption involves beneficial dark green and yellow vegetables. Only 29% of the population makes sure they get at least 2 servings of fruit per day and nearly half the population consumes less than one serving of fruit daily. This means they are not getting many of the beneficial Phytonutrients that these foods contain.
You can make sure you get the benefits of Phytonutrients by making sure that your daily diet contains berries, fruits, tea, dark green and yellow vegetables, soybeans, vegetables and citrus.