Phytonutrients: Health Protecting Compounds

Phytonutrients: Health Protecting Compounds

Phytonutrients are nutrients found in plants that develop to protect the plant from damaging environments. They provide plants their color, smell, and flavor. When plants are exposed to toxins, free radicals build up in the cell, while simultaneously phytonutrients develop to protect the plant from toxins, UV radiation, pollution, and pests. All of which generate free radicals in cells and damage plant proteins, cell membranes, and DNA. Us humans are also exposed to these toxins and need these phytonutrients as well. They are like antioxidants for plants. Fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, tea and coffee are all great sources of phytonutrients.

Phytonutrient Benefits

Phytonutrients are nutrients that plants make to shield themselves from harmful toxins, pests, UV radiation, and pollution. They are health protecting compounds with many benefits to humans. Phytonutrients play a central role in the prevention of low-grade inflammation by neutralizing free radical in cells. They help maintain equilibrium between antioxidants and free radicals. They boost mitochondrial function and our energy systems. Phytonutrients also promote cardiovascular healthy by dilating blood vessels, reducing blood pressure, increasing blood flow, and blocking the build up of LDL plaques in coronary arteries. They enhance night shift vision adaption. The true impact of phytonutrients can be seen at the cellular level in their prevention of cellular damage and oxidative stress.

How to Boost Phytonutrient Intake

We get phytonutrients by eating plants. Plants contain thousands of different essential phytonutrients. Fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, tea, and coffee are all ways we can consume phytonutrients. It is important to incorporate a variety of these foods into your daily eating routine. Boosting phytonutrient intake protects our cells from damage, oxidative stress, and prevent the build up of free radicals. Adding cruciferous vegetables to a morning smoothie or having a salad for lunch is a solid way to get phytonutrients early in the day.

How Phytonutrients Impact Innate Immunity + Gut Health

Phytonutrients have a tremendous influence on our innate immune system and gastrointestinal tract. Innate immunity is our natural early line of defense that we were born with, or given by our mothers. Phytonutrients have the ability to regulate inflammation levels and to affect our gut lining where two thirds of our immune system is housed. Consuming a diet rich in phytonutrients boosts gut microbiome diversity and reduces gut and systemic inflammation, which leads to normal weight management and energy metabolism. Phytonutrients also impact the intestinal mucous layer and block the adherence of bad microbes to intestinal epithelial cells in the gut wall. This maintains a strong integrity of the intestinal barrier function and keeps the immune response from over activating. Phytonutrients are essential to optimal function of the GI tract and immune system.

Foods rich in phytonutrients.

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