what are phytochemicals

Phytochemicals (PCs) or phytonutrients as they’re also known are chemicals made by plants! It has been estimated that some 5-10 million phytochemicals could exist within the plant kingdom…but we only know about a tiny percentage of these…

There are numerous classes of PCs including polyphenols (eg phenolic acids, tannins, flavonoids) & organosulfur compounds (eg isothiocyanates)

PCs help plants SURVIVE AND THRIVE in their environment, acting as SIGNALLING molecules; DEFENDING against pests and disease via insecticide, antibiotic & anti-fungal effects; increasing their ATTRACTIVENESS to pollinators with COLOUR, AROMA & FLAVOUR; & protecting against UV RADIATION.

Great, but WHAT CAN THEY DO FOR ME?

PCs are “NON-NUTRITIVE” (i.e. not macro or micronutrients essential for life) but certainly BIOACTIVE (biologically active). Many have MASSIVE HEALTH-PROMOTING EFFECTS in humans: ANTIOXIDANT, ANTI-INFLAMMATORY and ANTI-CANCER. They may:
*enhance immunity
*support intercellular communication
*prevent DNA damage (from toxin exposure) & repair it
*detoxify carcinogens
*regulate hormones e.g. alter estrogen metabolism
*reduce risk of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes & cancer
We know they interact SYNERGISTICALLY so eating the WHOLE FOOD is usually better than supplementing

MY TOP TIPS to MAX OUT on phytochemicals

  1. Eat a plant-based diet. If you’re eating lots of VEGGIES & FRUITS then you’ll be getting lots of PCs
  2. Focus on variety: 30+ different plants every week
  3. Eat the rainbow: those colours aren’t just pretty! The darker the better (often)
  4. Eat local: PC content decreases with cold storage
  5. Eat organic “wonky” fruit & veg! Environmentally “stressed” plants which have had to defend themselves from more pests etc. means more PCs. How cool is that!
  6. Pack in the herbs & spices, which are particularly potent sources. Grains, legumes, tea, coffee & cacau are all plant foods too!

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