Phytonutrients are compounds found in colorful foods that play an important role in our health and well-being. These phytonutrients, which help protect us from a variety of diseases and illnesses, including everything from cancers to heart disease, is why we encourage people to eat a "rainbow a day" of real, whole foods vs. processed foods that are pigmented with various chemicals and dyes.
To get the full benefit of phytonutrients, it is essential to eat a wide range of colorful plant-based foods. This ensures that you are consuming a phytonutrient spectrum that includes all the different phytonutrients, such as carotenoids, flavonoids, and polyphenols. By doing so, you give your body access to the wide range of health benefits of these phytonutrients. Additionally, eating a wide variety of plant-based foods increases prebiotic and probiotic-rich fiber in the diet, which is so necessary for the health of our gut. Studies have shown that the more variety in the diet, the greater the diversity of healthy gut bacteria and the better our bodies will function!
Another important reason to include lots of variety in the diet is the effects of epigenetics and the ways by which we can prevent disease and promote longevity with our food! Plant-based colorful foods have the ability to cause changes in the expression of genes that are directly involved in the prevention of disease. For example, dark leafy greens turn on the expression of genes involved in inflammation reduction and genes involved in tumor suppression! Studies have also shown that compounds found in purple and dark foods, such as black rice, purple cabbage, and blueberries, contain anthocyanin, a protective compound for the blood-brain barrier. Red foods contain chemicals known to be beneficial for hormone health, and orange foods contain carotenoids, a chemical that protects our immune system, skin, and the health of our eyes!
It is amazing to know that food not only provides nutrition for our body but also information for the instructions of our genetic mechanisms! This is quite empowering, as over 95% of chronic illnesses are caused by lifestyle factors that change the expression of genes, causing disease. This means that we can take the reigns of our health back and start making small steps toward healing habits. A great place to start is by eating more colorful plants! See the reference to the IFM Phytonutrient Spectrum below for a specific list of colorful foods with their benefits to get started!
If you want to live a long and healthy life, be sure to fuel your body with a wide variety of phytonutrient-rich foods. Not only will you be helping protect against disease and illness, but you'll also be promoting overall wellness by supporting the health of your gut! So the next time you head to the grocery store, be sure to stock up on a variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Your body will thank you for it!
IFM Phytonutrient Spectrum: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B44U1H74sUL8LUh4UXBIanZoXzg/view?usp=sharing&resourcekey=0-Qke-eg1ka2oDsjIY5juFQQ