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Phytonutrients: compounds from the Garden for good Health

Within plant foods are thousands of compounds that are taking the diet-disease connection to an exciting new level.Science call these compounds phytochemicals or phytonutrients, that means chemicals or nutrients found in plants.

They are there to help our garden survive and strive.
Potent sulfur compounds in garlic and unions, for instance, act as bug repellents to keep
the vegetables healthy. Other compounds protect plants from bacteria, viruses, and other
natural enemies. When we eat plant foods, these compounds protect us, too – not from
bugs but from the forces that wreak havoc in our bodies.

We have known for many years that we need vitamins and minerals from our food
to maintain good health, and to prevent malnutrition and diseases such as rickets and scurvy. But research revealed that the essential nutrients we all know, such as vitamin A and E, are just the beginning. See also my page: health-and-fitness

Most likely some of these previously unknown compounds will fight not only deficiency-type diseases such as anemia, but also age-related illnesses such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.

And the research has only begun. Scientists are discovering more phytochemicals all
the time and also ways in which theses compounds fight disease.

Neutralizing Free Radicals

Each member of the large family of phytonutrients work indifferent ways.
However, their most common weapons against disease appear to be their antioxidant
abilities.

Every day your body is under attack by harmful substances known as free radicals.
These are oxygen molecules who have lost an electron, due to pollution, sunlight,
stress, smoking, physical activity, and sunlight. As they attempt to regain there
missing electrons, they travel through your body and stealing electrons from your
body cells and sometimes from your DNA wherever they can.

Unless this chain reaction is stopped, the result is huge numbers of damaged
molecules and, over time, damage and disease.

For example, cholesterol is a useful and helpful substance. But when cholesterol
molecules are damaged by free radicals, they start to stick to the lining of
artery walls, causing hardened arteries and heart disease.

Another example: When free radicals attack molecules in the DNA of your body cells,
the genetic blueprint that tells your cells how to function, is damaged.
This can spark dangerous cell changes that lead to cancer and other diseases.
Even the aging process itself, scientists believe,is caused by free-radical damage.
The powerful antioxidants of phytonutrients in plants can literally save your life.

Essentially, they step between the free radicals and your body’s cells, offering up
their own electrons. When free radicals grab these “free” electrons, they become
stable again and do no further damage. Most phytonutrients are potent antioxidants.

Eliminating Toxic Wastes

Another way phytonutrients keep us healthy is by neutrolizing and flushing
toxic chemicals from our bodies before they make us sick. They do this by
manipulating enzymes known as phase-1 and phase-2 enzymes, explains Gary Stoner, PhD, professor and cancer researcher at Ohio State University in Columbus.
Phase-1 enzymes are like double agents. They are created by your body and are

important for normal cell function. But they also have the ability to work
against you. When cancer-causing toxins enter your system, phase-1 enzymes
help make them active. Phase-2 enzymes, on the other hand, are real good guys.
They seek out carcinogens and detoxify them before they can do damage.

When you eat broccoli or other vegetables, some of the phytoneutrients begin
stomping out the enemy phase-1 enzymes while increasing the production of
helper phase-2 enzymes. This process helps neutralize various cancer-causing
toxins that naturally accumulate in your body.

Regulating Hormones

A third way in which phytoneutrients fend off disease is by keeping certain
hormones – most notably the female sex hormone estrogen – at healthy levels.
Estrogen is “good news” and “bad news” kind of hormone. When it’s produced at
normal levels, it helps control everything, from menstruation to childbirth.
At the same time, it helps keep artery-clogging cholesterol in check, thus
preventing heart disease. When estrogen levels rise, however, they can fuel
hormone-stimulated cancers like breast cancer and cancer of the ovaries,
according to researchers.

There are several ways in which phytoneutrients keep estrogen at proper levels.
For example, a class of phytonutrients called isoflavones is extremely similar

to natural estrogen. When we eat foods containing isoflavones, these faux
hormones bind to the body’s estrogen receptors, leaving the real hormone with
nowhere to go but out.

Although estrogen is often referred to as if it were one hormone, in fact
there are different forms. One kind of estrogen, called 16-alpha-hydroxyestrone,
has been linked to breast cancer. Another form, 2-hydroxyestrone, appears to
be harmless. Certain phytonutrients are able to increase levels of the harmless form of estrogen, while decreasing levels of the dangerous kind.

Eating Your Medicine

From the previously mentioned facts it shows that phytonutrients bring in a diversity of
powerful defences. As a matter of fact, their potential is staggering.
Scientists forecast that in the near future these compounds will be used for treating disease in the hospital and for prevention at home, as was the case with vitamins and minerals.


Till then, scientists emphases that the only way to get the phytonutrients your body needs
is to eat them as Mother Nature brings them. That means eating fruits and vegetables at 
least nine servings per day for good health.
Scientists learn new things every day about this huge class of compounds that the glass
of orange juice contains that you have for breakfast in the morning and in the site salad
at lunchtime.

If you like to know more about plant-based nutrition, visit: http://nutritionstudies.org/

Vitamin C Essential for Good Health

The benefits of Vitamin C go beyond the generally known relieve of colds and flu.
It also helps the body to make collagen, a tough, fibrous protein that helps to build
connective tissue, skin, bones, and teeth, and it also plays a role in wound healing.

There is also some evidence that foods high in vitamin C and other antioxidants can
reduce the inflammation from asthma and return the airways to normal.
I refer to Nutrition Facts.org and my page: nutrition

Osteoarthritis
Doctors believed for many years that osteoarthritis was a “natural” result of wear an tear
on the joints. Researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine studied the eating
habits of people with osteoarthritis of the knee. They found that those getting the most
vitamin C – more than 200 milligrams per day – were three times less likely to have the
disease get worse than those who got the least.

Cancer
Vitamin C also has been shown to help prevent cancer-causing compounds from forming
in the digestive tract. Gladys Block PhD, professor of epidemiology and public health
nutrition at the University of California, Berkeley, analyzed dozens of studies that looked
at the relationship between vitamin C and cancer. From the 44 studies she examined, 33
showed that people who consumed the most of this vitamin  had the lowest risk of cancer.

Diabetes
If you have diabetes, fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C and E may be your ticket to healthier eyes, nerves, and blood vessels.These vitamins are known as antioxidants.
They help protect your body’s cells against free radicals, naturally occur  cell-damaging
molecules that may pose particular risks to people with diabetes.

Rheumatism
People who are suffering from rheumatism also need Vitamin C
This vitamin strengthens the connective tissue which hold the cells together.
Connective tissue forms the sinews, ligaments, and cartilage of the body.
When this vitamin is lacking, the connective tissue loses its tone and loses its defense
against harmful bacteria and viruses.
Strong connective tissue protect the cells against infection.

Capillaries
Vitamin C also strengthens the blood vessel walls and it is the capillaries
that are affected most by a vitamin C deficiency.
When this happens, the capillaries break down and blood leaks from them
into the tissues. These tiny haemorrhages occur also in the joints, and
causes rheumatic pain. (When capillaries break near the surface of the skin,
the escaping blood discolors the skin and results in a bruise.
The capillaries exist in such an abundance in the human body, that if the
capillaries of one man were stretched out in a single line, they would reach
two and a half times around the earth!

With every type of disease the capillaries will be harmed and conversely,
by strengthening them, every diseased state will be helped.
The capillaries supply food, oxygen, and hormones to every cell in the body.
They also remove waste products from metabolism and disease.
When the capillaries are strong, the risk of infection is greatly reduced and
infections are quickly thrown off.

Male Infertility
If men don’t get enough vitamin C,  sperm lose some of their forward momentum.
They get sticky and start clumping together, a  problem doctors call agglutination.
Once men start getting more vitamin C, however, sperm increase in number   and
quickly pick up speed.

Smokers
Getting more vitamin C is particularly important for men who smoke.
Studies have shown that smokers who get extra vitamin C in their diets  will have
healthier, more active sperm than those who don’t.

Vitamin C is also essential for healthy bone formation and people suffering
from hay fever may also benefit.

Sources of Vitamin C are broccoli  , a half cup contains 58 milligrams,
a half cup cantaloupe contains 34 milligrams and a medium-size navel orange
has 80 milligrams , which is 133% of the Daily Allowance .

 

Cancer-causing Chemicals

Many natural and unnatural chemicals are toxic and capable of causing cancer.
As a result, there is currently a great emphasis on minimizing our exposure to
polluting chemicals and pesticides. Although researchers at the University of
California claim that the latter are not a significant problem.

They say that 99.99% of the pesticides we eat are produced by the plant itself and
are natural. The remaining 0.01% are man-made agricultural pesticides.

Nevertheless, as much as half of these natural pesticides that have been tested
caused cancer in rodents. This is attributed tot the fact that the chemicals are tested
at the maximum tolerated dose, an extremely high level, but this does not mean
that they are carcinogenic at the trace levels consumed by humans.
Rather this is a worst case risk assessment.

Although many synthetic pesticides have been linked to cancer – 16 organochlorines
to breast cancer alone – we simply don’t know exactly what danger they pose.

According to a CSIRO researcher, the danger of all man-made pesticides is considerable
because:
The adverse effects of some of these chemicals at high intakes have been clearly shown.
Some accumulate in our body to dangerously toxic levels.
All toxic chemicals are increasing the burden of gene-damaging agents that are
already challenging our health.

A good example of gross danger is from diocin, a by-product of pesticide manufacturing,
which is linked to cancers at a stunningly low concentration of 2.1 parts per quintillion
( one quintillion = one million million million).

In 1989 the US Natural Resources Defense Counsel (NRDC) alleged that some 5,500 – 6,200
children may develop cancer later in life from exposure to just eight pesticides during
their preschool years.

One of the most carcinogenic natural chemicals is aflatoxin, which is sometimes found in
mouldy peanuts. Because it is so strongly carcinogenic, government food inspectors test
peanuts for it regularly.

Much milder is the carcinogenic tendency with cured meats. Ham, bacon, corned beef,
red frankfurter sausages, hot dogs, salami, etc., are cured with sodium nitrite, some
of which converts in the stomach to carcinogenic nitrosamines.

The chlorine added to town water supplies for disinfection has its problems.
Traces convert to chloroform which is carcinogenic. Long hot showers also produce traces
of chloroform. The solution is simple: Drink purified water, fit a shower filter and
keep the bathroom windows wide open during showering, with exhaust fan on if available.

Some medical drugs have turned out to be carcinogenic One of the best known is
diethylstilboestrol (DES), a synthetic oestrogen. In the 1970s, six Australian girls
developed vaginal cancer as a result of their mothers taking this drug, and numerous
cases resulted in the US. The cancer took 10 – 20 years to develop.

The household pollution that results from an unflued heater burning oil, gas or coal
can double the risk of cancer of the voice box, according to a German cancer expert.