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Health Benefits of Phytochemicals

By: Ron Lagerquist

“Protective compounds and phytochemicals are able to heighten brain activity, sharpen senses, support our immune system and ward off aging.”

Health Benefits of PhytochemicalsDown through the ages, artists have attempted to capture the shape and vivid color of fruit and vegetables. The blue in blueberries, orange in oranges, cherry red in cherries. Living candy. But don’t be fooled by their beautiful aesthetics, it’s just a cover for the tiny but essential Phytochemicals hidden in the pretty pigments of food.

The vibrant color in fruit has recently been shown to help protect from cancer and aging due to fruit’s rich supply of antioxidants. Studies have shown that people who eat a generous amount of fresh fruit and vegetables on a daily basis have the least amount of all types of cancers. It has been discovered that anthocyanin, the blue pigment in blueberries, is one of most powerful antioxidants for ridding the body of free radicals. Free radicals are an overbalance of oxidants which cause oxidative stress (OS), or too much oxygen, which attacks cells, damaging DNA and resulting in accelerated aging and sensitivity to the effects of oxidative stressors.

Phytochemicals seek out, dismantle and remove bacteria, viruses and carcinogens from the body. One example that will be of interest to men is a phytonutrient called lycopene because of its ability to shrink prostate tumors and slow their spread. Vegetables like brussels sprouts, kale and broccoli contain the phytonutrient indole-3-carbinol, which forms diindolymethane in the stomach. Diindolymethane is able to reduce the levels of alpha-hydroxestrone, a promoter of breast cancer. Simply said, eat your broccoli. Researchers have discovered that beta-carotene is beneficial in the healing of cancer. Carrots have been offering this nutrient for years, but it is only now that they are getting attention.

Peeking into their cells and membranes, there is almost a magical quality to fruit and raw vegetables. And the real magic is there is so much still undiscovered. What secret treasures has God hidden within these living foods? Protective compounds and phytochemicals are able to heighten brain activity, sharpen senses, support our immune system and ward off aging. A greasy steak just cannot compare to a bowl of sweet, ripened fruit or green vegies— at least to your trillion cells.

People Look Like the Contents of Their Shopping Carts

Take an inconspicuous look next time you are standing in line at the grocers. Compare the cart with its owner, and you will see a clear connection. Fruit Loops, Kraft Dinner, Scarios, Curly Fries, cookies, chips, soda, a small bunch of brown bananas from the reduced bin, and a family-sized bottle of mega multivitamins are attached to an obese, tired, pale face washed in ashen florescent light. I bite my tongue, especially when sitting in the child seat is the developing body of a toddler that still has managed to maintain a blush of health. The older the child, the more it converts into a miniature facsimile of the parent; their link is more the contents of their shopping cart than genetic factors. Sadly, I think, the contents of that cart are probably the best of what they are eating. It will at least offset trips to KFC for buckets of fried chicken and fries.

Conversely, an older woman stands straight and strong behind her shopping cart, with silver hair, head held high and shoulders back. She must be in her late seventies, but it’s hard to tell. I am not surprised to see her cart filled with natural whole foods: oranges, apples, carrots, potatoes, chicken breasts, whole grain bread. I strike up a conversation and she tells me that fifteen years ago she had a heart attack. “I started walking and lost weight. I eat different now, and I’ve never felt better.” She smiles shyly, a little girl peeking out behind her bright eyes.

Related Article: Food Enzymes

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