Phytochemicals are non-nutritive biologically-active substances found in plant foods. Though your body does not need these non-essential nutrients for physical survival, phytochemicals provide powerful protection from disease.

How Phytochemicals Work

Free radicals are highly-reactive molecules responsible for premature aging and the development of chronic disease. Free radicals come from pollution, cigarette smoke, and synthetic food additives. They are also created by our own bodies. In order to combat the cellular and genetic damage done by these scavengers, we need phytochemicals.

Nearly all phytochemicals have antioxidant properties, which protect your cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals.

Allicin, a phytochemical found in garlic, has powerful antibacterial properties. In beans, there are phytochemicals called saponins that prevent the multiplication of cancer cells. Indoles, found in collard greens, kale, and cabbage, stimulate enzymes that reduce estrogen and may prevent the development of breast cancer.

Getting More Phytochemicals in Your Diet

The key to getting more phytochemicals in your diet is to eat a diet rich in whole food and minimally-processed food. Organic fruits and vegetables as well as beans, nuts, and seeds, are your best source of these protective chemicals.

Opt for a wide variety of multi-colored produce as each color offers different types of protective phytochemicals.

If you feel you aren’t getting enough of these foods in your diet by eating them, consider juicing. Juicing is a great way to flood your body with essential nutrients and phytochemicals for vibrant health.

You can also enrich your body with phytochemicals by drinking green, white, and black tea regularly. These teas contain epigallocatechin gallate, flavonoids, tannins, polyphenols, boheic acid, theophylline, theobromine, anthocyanins, and gallic acid to reduce belly fat, ease inflammation, and protect you from disease.

If you’re living with any kind of chronic health problem or are struggling to lose weight, eating foods rich in phytochemicals will do wonders for your health. If cancer runs in your family or you’ve already survived the disease, a diet rich in colorful whole foods can prevent recurrence.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Craig A. Maxwell is an osteopathic physician who is board certified in integrative medicine, family medicine and osteopathic medicine. For more information, please visit: