Phytonutrients are substances found in plants that benefit human beings by helping to ward off many common diseases. "Phyto" means plant in Greek, and phytonutrients are the beneficial chemicals that give fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors. So far, scientists have identified over 10,000 of them and believe that there may be more than 20,000.
These nutrients operate at the cellular level, aiding function and communication. They commonly have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Interestingly, they act in groups - almost as teams - and should be ingested along with their entire family of substances.
Years ago, "beta-carotene" became a popular supplement, when scientists believed they had identified an anti-cancer substance. Smokers began taking it in high dosages to counteract the carcinogenic effects of smoking. It was only later discovered that taking beta-carotene increased the likelihood of non-cancerous lung tumors in smokers, when taken separately from the entire carotenoid family of nutrients.
It is always best to get phytonutrients (and other nutrients) directly from food sources. An easy way to ensure that you get all the phytonutrients you need is to "eat the rainbow" each day. In other words try to eat foods in the full spectrum of colors from yellow to green to blue to red. This is great advice, but there are also phytonutrients in cauliflower, onions and ginger - just to name a few foods that you might skip, when following this rule too rigidly.
Of course, our lifestyles and depleted environment often prevent us from getting adequate levels of phytonutrients in our diets, and so supplementation can be beneficial. Particularly, as the seasons change and the flu starts to go around, it can be helpful to fortify ourselves with a high quality phytonutrient supplement. Be sure to choose only the highest-quality supplements that include the full families of phytonutrients.
The two that I recommend are: PhytoMulti and Phytoganix from Metagenics. If you've been taking classes Align Brooklyn or seeing me as a chiropractic patient, you may have enough Perkville Reward Points for a 20-35% discount on an online purchase. We also carry both supplements at the studio. And don't hesitate to ask me anything about phytonutrients, next time you run into me!