1. What Are Phytochemicals?
Phytochemical is a term that simply means plant chemical. It refers to
everything in plants - the sugars, fiber, vitamins, nutrients, etc. These are
all phytochemicals. Scientists have become very excited about phytochemicals in
recent years because many of these chemicals, which previously had no known
function in human nutrition, seem to have a variety of biological effects in the
body. Many of them act as antioxidants, some modify the immune system, and
others alter enzymes that metabolize drugs in our system.
Lutein, found in tomatoes and other foods, is a good example of a
phytochemical with strong antioxidant properties and other health benefits.
Other examples of phytochemicals that are being researched for their potential
health benefits and ability to affect various biological functions in the body
include: isoflavones in soy, lycopenes, specific fatty acids (especially omega-3
fatty acids), plant sterols, and more. These phytochemicals or phytonutrients
have been found to affect everything from immune function and blood pressure to
hormone and neurotransmitter production. These phytochemicals can also interact
with some medications and change their effects in the body.
One good example of how phytochemicals in plants can affect drug metabolism
is grapefruit. This fruit contains several chemicals that alter an enzyme in the
intestine that affects the metabolism of some drugs. In some cases a specific
drug level will be increased, and in other cases, the drug level is decreased if
it is washed down with grapefruit juice.
Because of the potential health benefits of these phytochemicals, dietary
supplement companies have been putting just about any phytochemical you can eat
into pill form. Although some of these isolated phytochemicals have research to
support their use, in most cases we still don't know if these isolated
supplements have the same effect as eating fruits and vegetables. Because all
plants are mixtures of many phytochemicals, their health benefits may be due to
the unique combination of these phytochemicals, not just one isolated
phytochemical. It is also important to remember that just because consumption of
some of these compounds is health promoting, it does not mean that taking
fistfuls of them will be healthy, and in some cases excess amounts may actually
We are aware of the potential
benefits of these phytochemicals, but also realizes that in many cases it is the
unique natural combination of phytochemicals that is producing the health
benefits. Part of our Product Philosophy is to provide products that are
holistic, complete formulations. This means including the whole plant and whole
food vitamins to ensure that nature's natural balance of phytochemicals is
provided. When you look at the labels of our whole food products, you will see that
the whole food and/or whole plant is always included to ensure that you are
receiving the full balance of vitamins and phytochemicals as provided in
Consult your health practitioner on all medications, herbs and supplements
you are taking. Consult your health professional before beginning The Enzyme
Diet™ or any other diet or exercise program. Some herbs can react with
medications, both prescribed and over the counter, and some herbal combinations
can cause serious side effects.