Phytochemicals & Toxins – why a variety of plant nutrients is important
With the discovery of phytochemicals came a new era in nutritional medicine. Gone were the days of Vitamins and minerals being the Vitamin B all and Vitamin E for end all, of all that was required in the diet.
The colours within in each plant are compounds, saturated colour of divine medicine, each having their own individual healing powers. The purpose of phytochemicals to the plant is to protect it from the damage of the elements and predators, however within the human body phytochemicals provide healing far beyond what we can imagine and are still being discovered within the depths of the great Amazonas.
In the human body, phytochemicals function somewhat like our immune system, battling virus’s bacteria and fungi. The research behind phytochemicals show their ability to fight inflammation, assist the body’s ability to detoxify, lower blood pressure and a truly endless list of benefits. Phytochemicals fight inflammation- not forgetting that gut health and inflammation are the cause of most modern disease and mortality, you will do well to get yourself a combination of colourful vegetables and fruits into your diet.
Even if you are not to keen on vegetables, there are always ways you can get them into your diet and find them enjoyable. Yes, we are able to purchase many phytochemicals in the very absorbable and effective form of a supplement, however getting the real deal from the vegies and fruit in your diet is always best.
The natural synergy of combinations found only in nature really cannot be matched, nor equalled in therapeutic benefit. Naturally, phytochemicals complement each other.
There are countless different phytochemicals, one example most of us have heard of is a class named carotenoids. Carrots have carotenoids, as to does Kale and tomatoes. To give you an idea of just how many phytochemicals there are out there, within that class of Carotenoids, there are currently more than 600 subtypes of carotenoids known! You may have heard of some- Alpha-beta carotene, lycopene and lutein? Each with their own unique healing ability.
Ok- so let’s start at number 600 and work our way back. No, not really, but let me list two other types of Phytochemicals. Remember- each phytochemical has hundreds of its own subclasses of chemicals, so you can see how when it comes to nature, the combinations and synergy within nature is just unmatched- divine. As with everything in life- variety is the spice!
Sulforaphane- This phytochemical supports the liver in detoxifying carcinogens. Detoxification by the liver involves a process of pathways within the body and various phases along these pathways. Sulforaphane support what is known as phase 2 of detoxification. This is why it is important to get the advice of a qualified practitioner when detoxifying. There is no point moving toxic waste out of your fatty tissue if you don’t know the methods and foods to eat that enhance and support the pathways of elimination out of the body. A lot of people who undergo an unassisted detox without the help of a practitioner will simply “loosen” up toxic metabolites, this will often bring on the unappealing head achy “detox” symptoms, only to have the toxins settle back into the body because the elimination channels where not assisted.
Cruciferous vegetables such a broccoli, bok choy, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi radishes rutabaga and turnips contain sulforaphane.
Ellagic Acid- Benzopyrene is a carcinogen found all around us- not just in exhaust fumes and cigarette smoke. Aflatoxin, is another commonly consumed carcinogen found in mouldy nuts. Both are eliminated out of the body by Ellagic Acid. Little known ellagic acid is found in abundance in fruits and vegetables and specifically supports phase 1 of liver detoxification. Most of us have never heard of benzopyrene or aflatoxins, but inhaled and or eaten your fair share you would have indeed.
Aflatoxins are a mould commonly found on many nuts. It is important you buy your nuts from a reputable supplier- not only a trust worthy supplier whom has good storage methods, but who also has a high turnover. This way you are reducing your possibility of ingesting aflatoxins. Next time you buy your nuts from a supermarket, remember supermarkets have purchased their nuts from the cheapest place possible, probably storing them in conditions conducive to mould growth. Be we aware of a mouldy undertone in the flavour of your nuts- it is not uncommon, that is Aflatoxin.
Raw nuts are best, raw organic nuts. One step further again is eating activated nuts if the choice is there. In animal studies, the use of Ellagic Acid has been shown to prevent cancer of the oesophagus- as a side note; green tea was also found to reduce the incidence of oesophageal cancer- so that’s handy if you are a smoker or ex smoker.
Great sources of Ellagic Acid are berries- organic always. There are foods that absorption very high amounts of toxins due to the large scale farming methods of spraying of crops, this makes fruits such as berries desirable only if they are organic. I strongly recommend only buying organic berries. Frozen berries make it more affordable, remembering that 1/2 a cup is one portion, and 1-2 portions of fruit a day is more than enough.
Other sources of Ellagic Acid are apples, grapes and nuts- especially those omega 3 filled walnuts.
The revenge of Brussel sprouts
Brussel sprouts are making a comeback, and they are coming back big. No – really, you must read on. Paleo Cafes and recipes have great recipes. Generally, in a salad- i know, can you believe it- cold brussel sprouts, but mix them with chorizo and the right flavour filled spices and whole food sauce and by tongue tingle, you have got yourself a whole new veggie back in your rotation! Brussels sprouts are exceptional for detoxification and cheap as chips, in fact a new term needs coining- cheap as brussel sprouts. There are many health benefits of a Paleo style of eating, head down to your local Paleo Cafe and try out the Brussel sprout salad and all the other sugar grain legume and dairy free options.
Have a happy day!