What is a Phytonutrient?
We have all come across the fundamental nutrients present in our food, like proteins, minerals and vitamins. Beside these nutrients are naturally occurring bioactive compounds known as phytonutrients, that have been shown to support human health in numerous ways.
Did you know? There are over 25,000 phytonutrients from different phytochemical classes; from carotenoid to polyphenol, probiotic to prebiotic, all of which have been found largely in plants – from a humble fruit and vegetable to a flavoursome herb and spice.
What’s the largest group of them all…?
The largest group of phytonutrients are polyphenols, which can be subclassified into four main groups:
- flavonoids (including eight subgroups)
- phenolic acids (such as curcumin)
- stilbenoids (such as resveratrol)
- and lignans.
As of now, 8,000 different types of polyphenols have been identified in plants, and they have probably existed in the plant kingdom for over one billion years. These incredible compounds have an array of biological properties:
- antimicrobial (fighting against harmful microorganisms)
Why does it matter to you?
Recent studies suggest that long term consumption of diets rich in plant phytonutrients, such as polyphenols, may offer protection and support against the development of several chronic human illnesses and diseases.
Energy production and other processes in our bodies produce inflammatory byproducts called oxygen free radicals, which can damage cells. Polyphenols, with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, may be able to reduce the destruction of these on the body, and decrease the effects of inflammation on the body.
How can you get more phytonutrients into your system?
Eat well – a balanced, healthy, and anti-inflammatory diet is a good place to start – like the Mediterranean Diet.
Inflammation and illness-inciting chemicals have been demonstrated in one study to increase by about 70 per cent with a high-fat and low fibre diet, but the good news is that switching to a Mediterranean-style anti-inflammatory diet for 30 days reverses the changes, showing how impactful it can be.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet is a primarily plant-based eating that includes daily intake of whole grains, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, beans and other legumes, nuts, herbs, and spices. Other foods like animal proteins are eaten in smaller quantities, with the common protein being gained from fish and seafood.
But, sometimes our body struggles to extract these phytonutrients and polyphenols (we discussed bioavailability in the last newsletter, but here’s a recap below). And that’s why supplements may have an impact (if they have high bioavailability).
Bioavailability is the extent and rate to which an active ingredient from a product taken (such as a supplement or drug) is absorbed by the body and reaches your system.
And, bioavailability is affected by a number of different factors, including:
- the physical properties of the substance (particularly the solubility)
- physiological aspects (e.g., enzyme activity, gastric emptying rate, circadian effects, etc.)
- the type of dosage form (formulation)
- food intake at the time of taking
- variability of personal bio-mechanisms (e.g., weight, metabolism, microbiota, gut health and more)
If a supplement has high bioavailability, it increases the proportion of nutrients (like phytonutrients and polyphenols) absorbed by your body.
This in turn, increases the chances that these nutrients reach the target areas in your system and deliver beneficial effects where they’re needed the most.
At iüLabs, we have SoluSmart®, a unique activation technology that significantly multiples bioavailability. It helps your body absorb much more of the goodness in our products than you would with a standard supplement (around 5-20 times higher gut absorption and bioavailability). So, you can get a much bigger impact from the super-powerful natural ingredients in our drinks.