The 5 Colors of Phytonutrients: Eat the Rainbow!
Wellness experts are always telling us that we need to eat more colorful foods. The reason behind this is that these pretty fruits and veggies are actually nutritional powerhouses, chock full of the good stuff: phytonutrients.
You may have heard this word being thrown around before, but here’s what it actually means. Broken down, “phyto” refers to the Greek word for plant. These chemicals help protect plants from germs, fungi, bugs, and other threats. The plain-English explanation is that plant foods contain thousands of natural chemicals. These are called phytonutrients or phytochemicals, and they’re what make fruits and veggies worth eating, as they may help prevent disease and keep your body working properly. The roles phytonutrients play range; they can act as antioxidants, immune system-boosters, lower risk of bone loss, eye health, lower risk of cancers, inflammation-reducers, asthma risk-reducer, coronary heart disease prevention, and overall lifespan-extenders. Some of the phytonutrients Good Guys that do all this are resveratrol, catechins, hesperidin, flavonols, ellagic acid, lutein and zeaxanthin, lycopene, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin.
You don’t have to just eat fruits and veggies to gain the phytonutrient benefits, either. A lot of plant-based foods have them too, such as:
- Whole grains
- Wine (now, don’t go crazy on this one!)
Jo Cameron's Life Without Pain; A Story of Rare Genetic Mutations
When Jo Cameron underwent a double hand surgery procedure, which would have left most people in excruciating pain, she left the hospital happy, vivacious, and in no pain whatsoever. At the time, Cameron was 65 years old and should have been even more susceptible to the surgery’s painful aftermath. Recognizing this anomalous behavior, doctors decided to investigate and found Cameron’s DNA contained two genetic mutations that made her unable to feel pain either physically or emotionally.
A Happy Genetic Mutation
Like anyone else, Cameron has been scraped, burned, and bruised throughout her life. But these physical injuries had little effect on her. After two surgeries, which left doctors baffled by her recovery — she needed only two aspirin the day after a hip-replacement surgery to deal with the pain — she was referred to a team of specialists at University College London’s Molecular Nociception Group (UCL).
Following a thorough DNA study, scientists at UCL published an unusual case report in the British Journal of Anaesthesia, revealing their findings of two genetic mutations:
Genetic Mutation #1:
This mutation affects the FAAH gene, which produces the enzyme responsible for breaking down anandamide — a neurotransmitter that’s been dubbed “the bliss molecule” (appropriately named after the Sanskrit word for bliss, "ananda") for its ability to bind to THC receptors, affecting mood, appetite, pain, and memory. When the FAAH genes break down anandamide, we experience physical and mental pain. But with a mutation like Cameron’s, the bliss molecule is allowed to preside, bringing out anandamide’s positive effects.
Surprisingly, this genetic mutation is not as uncommon as one may think, as about 20 percent of Americans are said to possess it. However, this percent of the populace doesn’t have Cameron’s second mutation, which compounds the effect and prevents her from experiencing any pain at all.
Genetic Mutation #2:
The discovery of this rare genetic mutation, named the FAAH-OUT gene, was said to be scientifically groundbreaking, as it was found to be a previously unidentified gene. As may be guessed from its name, the FAAH-OUT gene has a bearing on the FAAH gene, essentially turning down its activity. Working in concert, these two genetic mutations enabled Cameron to live her life unable to feel pain.
“I knew that I was happy-go-lucky, but it didn’t dawn on me that I was different. I thought it was just me. I didn’t know anything strange was going on until I was 65,” she told the The Guardian,