Let food be thy medicine- wholefoods and phytonutrients
3 Dec 2014

How to Eat Yourself to Good Health

2 mins to read
Want to know how to eat your way to good health? Find out what you need to know about wholefoods, phytonutrients and their health benefits.

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food - with these words spoken way back in 5th century BC, Hippocrates the father of western medicine recognised the value of eating well and the potential of certain foods for good health.

Wholefoods are generally defined as a food that is largely unprocessed and unrefined, rich in essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Vegetables, fruits, unpolished grains and legumes are examples of wholefoods.

Wholefoods also provide phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are substances found in plant based foods that may help to support good health. Phytonutrients are non-essential and are sometimes called phytochemicals.

Phytonutrients provide foods with their colour, smell and taste. Their health potential comes from their antioxidant, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory actions, just to name a few.

Common phytonutrients include: 

  • Carotenoids- lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene and beta-carotene found in green leafy veggies, tomatoes, sweet potato and spirulina
  • Phenolic compounds- polyphenols, anthocyanins, ellagic acid, quercetin and resveratrol found in berries, dark chocolate, white tea, apples and red grape juice
  • Phyto-oestrogens- isoflavones, lignans found in soybeans and flaxseeds
  • Isothiocyantes and indoles found in broccoli, cabbage and Chinese greens

Food as Medicine

Whatsoever was the father of disease, an ill diet was the mother - Chinese proverb

More and more, the importance of eating a diet with a variety of nutrient rich wholefoods is being recognised for its benefit on our health and wellbeing.

A study published in the Journal of American College of Nutrition investigated whether a wholefood diet rich in phytonutrients provided a more positive outcome for health versus a refined food diet.

Subjects in the study followed two diets for four weeks starting with the refined food diet followed directly with a phytonutrient rich wholefood diet.

What the researchers found was that a diet rich in unrefined, minimally processed foods had a beneficial effect on cholesterol and lipids in the blood, decreased the need for oxidative defence mechanisms, meaning less free radical damage to cells and improved colon function.

References available upon request

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