Phytonutrients in simple terms... (Updated 04-28-13)
"Phyto" means plant.
"Nutrient" means nourishing; promoting or sustaining life, growth, or strength.
You might hear the word "phytochemicals" which is interchangeable.
What Do They Do For You?
A major portion of these phytonutrients found in certain foods work to:
Support the normal immune system functions
Support the production of neurotransmitters of the brain
Help to maintain normal heart function
Support regular digestive activity
And much more...
What we can positively know about all phytonutrients and what they do is this. They do what whole foods have always done. They support the various systems of the body.
What Do They Look Like?
Many phytonutrients are colorful and easy to spot in the world. Because
this salad is made from a lot of different colored vegetables, it is full of them.
Concentrating on one type of phytonutrient from one particular food does not satisfy the body's needs. Hundreds have been named and there's more to be discovered. This is a new venture for the scientific community as many have antioxidant characteristics and can be categorized as such.
But... now, I want to show you how these little nutrients work and what foods are great choices.
So What are Antioxidants Characteristics, Really?
There are two points to understand.
First we need to clarify oxidize. The term originally referred to oxygen when it combined or uncombined with other elements or compounds.
It later included other elements and compounds, having nothing to do with oxygen.
This is an important point to know.
Something can oxidize or be oxidized without having anything to do with oxygen.
The term, oxidize, still refers to something oxidizing or being oxidized but may, or may not, have anything to do with oxygen. This can be confusing if you are not clear on the above two points.
Oxidizing has to do with Hugging?
First of all, elements or compounds have electrons that like to be in pairs. This being-in-pairs is sort of like elements or compounds going around hugging. This is what makes things stick together. We can build all sorts of things because of this hugging effect.
In the body, if A is hugging B and H (a free radical-meaning it has a free electron needing a mate) comes along, H may aggressively break up the relationship between A and B. H takes B's spot and B is left with no one to hug. B is now looking for someone to hug and will disrupt other huggers until it finds a match.
The body's internal operations include the ongoing activity of creating free radicals as one of it's basic operations. With good nutrition, the free radicals are dealt with as routine and the body is only affected in a minor way.
War On Chemicals
When the body is exposed to too many free radicals which majorly come from the chemical product industries, they are harder to balance out and illness or aging occurs more rapidly.
We look to our health care professionals for help when serious illness sets in.
According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), there were 84,000 chemicals listed in their Chemical Substances Inventory.
Increasing antioxidant type nutrients may well help win the war on too many toxic chemicals. This should be determined by a health care practitioner for someone ill. These chemicals enter our bodies through our lungs, our skin and our mouths and care should be taken in getting them under control when signs of illness set it.
But for normal balancing of day to day toxins entering the body, these colorful types of nutrients can act like antioxidants. When eaten as food, they meet up with free radicals and can keep them under control as a normal course of activity.
What Foods are Considered Antioxidant Types?
Here is a list of phytonutrients with antioxidant qualities. I'll be adding more information as it becomes available. If you'd like to keep up to date, just join our RSS Feed or use the Blog Signup Form for email notifications of new information as it becomes available.
Berries like Blueberries, Raspberries, and Blackberries
Citrus - Lemons, Oranges, and Grapefruit
Super Berries like Acai, Mangosteen, Goji berries and Camu camu
Aloe Vera (gel taken directly from fresh aloe vera leaf as a whole food)
Tomatoes, particularly heirloom in all their glorious colors
Green Leafy Vegetables like Kale, Parsley, Dandelion Greens, Spinach
Orange Vegetables like Carrots and Sweet Potatoes
Bell Peppers - Green, Red, Orange and Yellow
Stabilized Rice Bran
Cacao Beans (also known as cacao nibs and chocolate)
Look for the bright colored foods and they are bound to contain these antioxidant type treasures.
Please feel free to email me if you have questions or comments. I am always happy to respond.