We all understand that nutrition plays a central role in creating good health, building immunity and reversing diseases. We also agree that eating plant foods is relatively much better than processed and animal foods. However, there is an emerging concept of “phytonutrients” which is vital for us to understand if we want our food to reverse our diseases and build immunity. Apart from fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, plant foods are also loaded in phytonutrients.
Phyto means plant; hence phyto-nutrient means all the nutrients that you get from different colours of plant foods. In order to maximise health benefits, we need to eat more and more colours of fruits and vegetables. Phytonutrient-rich foods include colourful fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains and many spices. Among the benefits of phytonutrients are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. Phytonutrients also enhance immunity and intercellular communication, repair DNA damage from exposure to toxins, detoxify carcinogens and boost immunity. Eating a variety of colourful foods with every meal is vital for boosting maximum nutrition. It’s a simple rule to apply to your diet: The more colourful the food on your plate, the more nutrients.
Benefits of eating a rainbow of colourful foods:
RED: Pomegranate, watermelon, red peppers & tomatoes
Phytochemicals in red fruits and vegetables – lycopene, ellagic acid, quercetin, hesperidin and anthocyanins – help protect against certain cancers, lower risk of diabetes, support eye health, prostate health and improve skin appearance.
ORANGE/ YELLOW: Carrots, oranges, yellow peppers, papaya, lemon, pumpkin & pineapple
Phytochemicals in yellow and orange fruits and vegetables – alpha and beta carotene, which are converted into vitamin A in the body. This essential vitamin helps support immune function, eye health, stronger joints and bones, and also decreases risk of various cancers and heart disease.
GREEN: Broccoli, cabbage, spinach, kiwi & green vegetables
Phytochemicals in green fruits and vegetables – lutein, zeaxanthin, isoflavones, EGCG, indoles, sulphoraphane – have a host of different health benefits. But the biggest benefit is that it helps clear toxins from body, which means it lowers cancer risk, support digestive enzymes and absorption of nutrients, boosts immune system , improves gut health and liver function, helps reverse diabetes, increases energy and supports faster tissue healing.
BLUE/PURPLE: Purple cabbage, plums, grapes, eggplant & berries
Phytochemicals in blue and purple fruits and vegetables – resveratrol, anthocyanidins, flavonoids and proanthocyanidins, a perfect pair of super-charged antioxidants. They are amazing for promoting heart and brain function (specifically memory), cellular strength, healthy aging and for reducing inflammation all over the body.
WHITE: Onions, garlic, cauliflower & bananas
Phytochemicals in white fruits and vegetables – allicin and glucosinolates – support bone health, help lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation, protect against certain cancers and balance hormones.
We all knew that eating three to four servings of fruits and vegetables daily will improve our health. But more and more research papers are showing that healthy eating is not only about how many servings we eat, but also about the variety and diversity of plant foods we choose. Today with the rise in lifestyle diseases, it is very important that we become conscious and mindful about what we are eating. The more variety of plant foods we eat and minimise our intake of processed and artificial foods, we will be equipped with more disease-fighting nutrients that can ensure healthy aging and creating good health.
(Karan Kakkad is an international Nutrigenomics & Disease Reversal expert based in India. He is the Founder & CEO of Reverse Factor. To know more visit: www.reversefactor.in)