I first heard about Phytochemicals at a recent Qigong seminar I attended in Orlando with Jeff Primac of the Supreme Science Qigong Center. He was lecturing on Food Based Healing that he is a big proponent of and it had everyone's attention.
According to Wikipedia.com, they are chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants. They have been used as drugs for many years. Some examples include Hippocrates prescribing willow tree leaves to reduce fever, Salicin (Aspirin) from the white willow tree as an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever.
On phytochemicals.info, phytochemicals are non-nutritive plant chemicals that have disease preventive properties. There are more than a thousand known phytochemicals. While it is known that plants produce these chemicals to protect themselves, recent research suggests that they can protect humans against diseases. Some of the well known phytochemicals are lycopene (found in tomatoes), isoflavones (found in soy) and flavanoids (found in fruits). They are not essential nutrients and are not required for the body to function.
There are many phytochemicals and while each of them work differently, here are a few ways that they work in our bodies
- Antioxidant - protect our cells against oxidative damage and reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer. Some sources include onions, leeks, garlic, fruits, vegetables, tea and grapes.
- Hormonal Action - Isoflavones found in soy imitate human estrogens.
- Stimulation of Enzymes - Indoles found in cabbages stimulate enzymes that make the estrogen less effective and could reduce the risk for breast cancer. Protease inhibitors are another phytochemical found in soy, beans, citrus fruits and cherries.
- Interference with DNA replication - Saponins found in beans interfere with the replication of cell DNA which can help to prevent the multiplication of cancer cells. Capsaicin found in hot peppers protects DNA from carcinogens.
- Anti-bacterial effect - The phytochemical allicin found in garlic has anti-bacterial properties.
- Physical Action - Some phytochemicals bind physically to cell walls which helps to prevent the adhesion of pathogens to human cell walls. Some sources of anti-adhesion properties are cranberries.
According to Jeff Primac of the Supreme Science Qigong Center, phytochemicals are the sparkplugs of the immune system! They are found mainly in the skin, stems and seeds of fruits and vegetables. However, many times we throw away the best part of the fruits and vegetables and eat the part that has no phytochemcials. Of course, it is important to note, that to eat the seeds, stems and skin of most fruits and vegetables, one would take many hours a day to chew and digest these things.
Jeff states on his website that you can heal and prevent almost all forms of disease with natural food found all around us. Inside our food there is great healing power, but it gets lost with cooking, juicing or refining. Fortunately Jeff has found a way using a very high powered blender to blend all these fruits and vegetables together in a good tasting smoothie!
At the seminar, we actually got to try the smoothie and I was pleasantly surprised. Jeff has went out of his way to try and develop recipes that taste good but get the most bang for the buck. And guess what? All it takes is a high powered blender, a bunch of fresh fruits/vegetables and a few minutes of your time each day. For more information, go to Jeff's website and learn all about it. I know I'm going to be doing the same thing!