Do you know you can strengthen your immunity by adding a variety of organic edibles to your diet? Colorful vegetables and fruits contain plenty of phytonutrients that help increase your body’s natural ability to fight off diseases and infections.
Phytonutrients are the naturally occurring chemicals inside plants. Although their main function is to protect the plants themselves, humans can also benefit from them. Let’s find out how food rich in phytonutrients helps our body fight many health problems.
1. Phytonutrients Regulate Blood Pressure
Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains contain phytochemicals that regulate blood pressure. They do this by blocking the key enzyme in the body (the angiotensin-converting enzyme) that manages nitrogen levels. These factors cause a drop in blood pressure and promote blood vessel expansion. When the blood vessels expand, blood flow improves and blood pressure levels return to the normal range of less than 140/90 mmHg. A normal blood pressure reading indicates the heart is in good shape and performing well.
2. Phytonutrients Improve Blood Sugar
Phytic acid is a type of inositol that protects the body against high blood sugar. It is present in corn, oats, rice bran, nuts, and soybeans. Inositol promotes gut cell sensitivity to insulin, which is a hormone that regulates blood sugar.
Polyphenols are another type of phytonutrient that prevents insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. There are many types of polyphenols, like Resveratrol and Flavonoids, which are the most popular. Polyphenols are commonly found in berries and help regulate glucose levels by enhancing cell sensitivity.
3. Phytonutrients Enhance Immunity
A strong immune system boosts defenses against infectious diseases. One example is Vitamin C’s ability to reduce the length of the common cold. Micronutrients, such as zinc, also lower the duration of the common cold and ease symptoms of chest heaviness.
Many phytonutrients act as antioxidants and reduce harmful chemicals (known as free radicals) from the body. These chemicals, if not properly eliminated from the body, can harm your immune system. Therefore, by removing free radicals, phytochemicals shield our bodies against infection.
4. Phytonutrients Ward Off Wrinkles and Other Skin Problems
Dryness and creasing are common skin problems that can lead to skin infections. Skin-replenishing phytonutrients, such as collagen, keep the skin healthy while preventing flakiness. Carotenoids are a type of phytonutrient that boosts collagen formation and inhibits collagen degradation. Collagen is a vital protein in the skin. Retinol is another phytochemical that maintains skin health. Applying retinoids stops collagen breakdown and keeps the skin supple and plump. Phytonutrients also guard the skin against harmful UVA radiation and help fight skin diseases.
5. Phytonutrients Fight Free Radicals and May Protect Against Cancer
Free radicals in our bodies play an active role in cancer formation. Cancer develops when cells start multiplying uncontrollably and form a tumor. Many research studies solidify the role of phytonutrients in carrot juice extract in protecting against blood cancer. These carotenoids cause the destruction of cancer cells by stunting their growth. Vitamin D also prevents the growth cycle of cancer. Vitamins, in general, have antioxidant activity and remove free radicals from the body.
6. Phytonutrients Minimize Allergies and Swelling
Allergies (sneezing, redness, and sinus swelling) are common issues for many people. However, chronic swelling may lead to complications and more complex diseases. Health experts believe that carotenoids (such as beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, and lycopene) play an essential role in lowering cytokines, which are the body’s inflammatory chemicals. Carotenoids help skin heal faster by resolving inflammation.
7. Phytonutrients Strengthen Bones
The bones and muscles are the supporting structures of the body. Phytonutrients work best to strengthen them both. A recent study shows that vitamin D supplements are becoming a winter requirement for some people to ensure healthy muscle and bone growth. It’s recommended that people keep their vitamin D levels above 30 ng/mL. Moreover, researchers say that vitamin supplements containing Vitamin D3, Omega-3 fatty acids, and calcium prevent bone diseases and muscle cramping.
8. Phytonutrients Are Neuroprotective
Aging affects the nerves and increases your chances of developing many degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. With this condition, a person suffers from progressive memory loss. In fact, many phytonutrients aid in slowing the progression of such neurological diseases. Experts propose that daily consumption of lutein (at about 6 milligrams) reduces your risk of nervous system diseases that impact the brain and its functions.
9. Phytonutrients Protect the Eyes
Our society has seen a sharp increase in screen time (and reading time) over the past few decades, which places a lot of stress on the eyes. As such, these habits also promote accelerated aging of the eyes and a general decline in vision. Phytonutrients such as carotenoids play a crucial role in maintaining healthy vision. Since the body cannot effectively break down carotenoids, it’s important to also take lutein to maintain vision. Blue light from screens is harmful to the eyes, and lutein decreases the amount of this light that enters the retina, which is a small but formative structure in the inner eye. Moreover, it removes free radicals that can potentially damage the eyes.
10. Phytonutrients Boost Sex Hormones
Sex hormones need to be regulated in the right way to maintain their role in helping the body. Sex hormones include steroids, estrogens, testosterone, DHEA, and progesterone. The more Omega-3 fatty acids that are in the body means increased hormone regulation. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish such as sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon, and herring. Omega-3s even help reduce menopausal symptoms, such as the frequency of hot flashes.
To Wrap It Up
Phytonutrients protect you against potential diseases by boosting many of the body’s functions. So you must remember to include enough fruits and vegetables in your diet (and drink lots of water) to maintain strong immunity and overall health.