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!)
Your Body Is a Superorganism Thanks to These Microbes
Dr. Bruce Lipton, Ph.D., a pioneer in the field of epigenetics who worked as a stem-cell biologist has effectively bridged the gap between mind, body, and spirit. Of particular note is his approach to the immune system, a widely appreciated (yet poorly understood) function of the body.
We Are Made of Microorganisms
As humans, we each possess a microbiome, a community of microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses) that inhabit the body. Our bodies are home to about 100 trillion of these microbes, and their role in protecting us from disease cannot be overstated: They are not just necessary, but crucial, to human life on a great many levels.
Microbiome research is an emerging field in which researchers investigate how the bacteria that live in and on our bodies affect our health and states of mind. Beneficial microbes in the gut have much to do with how efficiently we can extract calories from different kinds of food, how likely we can escape colon cancer or heart disease, and even how we metabolize different kinds of drugs.
And, as Lipton teaches, these microbes regulate a wide array of aspects related to both mind and body—from the removal of toxins to gut feelings, and from sleep patterns to appetite. In fact, because of their role in the production of certain hormones such as serotonin, a deficiency in the microbiome literally affects happiness levels and may contribute to anxiety and depression.