Phytonutrients have the abilities to increase production of signaling molecules that stimulate the follicles, to enter into the growth phase of the hair cycle. But, what do we know about these nutrients and how do they affect you?
What is phytonutrients?
Phytonutrients are chemicals produced by plants. They are also called phytochemicals. Plants use phytonutrients to stay healthy. For example, these chemicals protect plants from insect attacks, while others protect against radiation from UV rays. For you, it can also provide significant benefits. Phytonutrient-rich foods include colorful fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, tea, whole grains and many spices. They have a positive affect on skin and hair but are not considered nutrients that are essential for life.
What are the benefits of phytonutrients?
Among the many benefits of phytonutrients are for example antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. It enhances immunity and intercellular communication. It repairs DNA damage from exposure to toxins, detoxify carcinogens and alter estrogen metabolism. Research made by The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that consuming a phytonutrient-rich diet seems to be an effective strategy, for reducing cancer and heart disease risks.
According to Louis Premkumar, a professor of pharmacology, a good way to tell if a fruit or vegetable is rich in phytonutrients can be by its color. This because many phytonutrients actually give plants their pigments. So keep an extra eye for deep-hued foods like berries, dark greens, melons and spices.
Understanding the effectiveness
For centuries, there have been implications that healthy food garnished with exotic spices and condiments provides vital ingredients. Vital ingredients that help ward off diseases and promote longevity, Premukar explains. People who consume healthy diets, have enjoyed health benefits, using longevity as a metric, he continued. There is evidence that a diet high in phytonutrient-rich plant foods is good for you and your overall health.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), studies demonstrate the effectiveness of a diet full of phytonutrient-rich foods. Although, scientists are still trying to understand the specific mechanisms of how phytonutrients work.
According to Premkumar, there has not been enough randomized, large-scale clinical trials undertaken. And even when they are it can sometimes be difficult to quantify the results.
The health benefits from phytonutrients have to be taken seriously he continues. Government agencies like the USDA, NIH and several health organizations seem to agree, and encourage people to eat more fruits and vegetables.
Why not take advantage of the potential benefits from these foods?
According to Premkumar, what we do know is that the beneficial effects of phytonutrients will be seen over months or years, and not immediately. He pointed out that they as well as other healthy compounds like vitamins and minerals, can only prevent or delay developing diseases. Once a disease has manifested, the only option to combat is to consult with a medical advisor. It is important to take appropriate medications that have been proven to be effective, he says.