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Phytochemicals and vitamin D

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

Phytochemicals are one category of the chemical compounds mainly known as antioxidants, and recently their anti-inflammatory effects in preventing chronic inflammation have received much attention.

Here we focus on the health promotion and disease prevention effect of phytochemicals including polyphenols, the latter of which are abundant in onions, oranges, tea, soybeans, turmeric, cacao and grapes which are particularly beneficial when used with the synergetic effect of vitamin D.

Since ancient times many drugs have been created from plant derived ingredients, such as Aspirin from willow trees, but recent attention has focused on a group of plant derived chemicals termed phytochemicals which includes classes of compounds such as terpenoids, carotenoids, flavonoids, polyphenols.

During the COVID-19 pandemic the interest in phytochemicals used alongside Vitamin D for disease prevention increased. It was found that the intake of these had an enhanced anti-inflammatory effect, up-regulated immunity and assisted in the maintenance of a healthy gut microbiota thereby reducing the risk of infectious disease . Great attention was taken to the risk of underlying conditions and lifestyle-related diseases such as metabolic syndrome, obesity, dementia and diabetes which often trigger serious consequences. Chronic inflammation is the cause of many of these disorders and gut dysbiosis (imbalance) is related to intestinal issues that are increasingly seen in younger generations. These conditions are also closely related to what we eat. The combination of phytochemicals and vitamin D helps to control the gut microbiota, increase the gut immune response and has protective effects.

Phytochemicals and vitamin D : the term phytochemicals comes from the Greek meaning “plant chemicals”. These phytochemicals are produced by plants to protect themselves from UV and other predatory presences. These chemicals range from toxins to drugs used for traditional medicine. Many phytochemicals have anti inflammatory properties and when contained in fruits and vegetables that are called phytonutrients and can be used for the prevention of disease and promotion of a healthy state.

Below is a list of the fruits and vegetables containing phytochemicals considered useful for the health promoting effects when used synergistically with Vitamin D.

ONIONS: contain quercetin, the strongest known anti inflammatory flavonoid phytochemical ,mainly contained in the skin rather than the bulb. Onion skin powder is frequently used as a pathway for the intake of phytochemicals. Onions also contain rutin and allicin, more phytochemical, as do leeks and garlic.

CITRUS FRUITS : have large amounts of phytochemicals which are beneficial for multiple uses, although the flesh is less powerful than the skins. The Japanese use powdered compounds of the skin which has gone through a year of slow drying and has multiple benefits like protection from arteriosclerosis, liver disorders, diabetes, osteoporosis, and dementia prevention.

TEA : contains catechnis that can control blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels, and have anti-oxidative and anti-ageing effects. Citrus polyphenols and catechin together may have an anti obesity effect helping to reduce visceral fat and preventing dementia. Catechins from tea can also reduce the potency of viruses.

TURMERIC ; the polyphenol curcumin comes from the turmeric rhizome and is used for its anti inflammatory properties as well as antioxidants. It has a lovely warmth to it and is perfect for lattes, curries and for giving a beautiful yellow colour to foods.

CACAO : is the raw material for chocolate and cocoa drinks . Cacao phytochemicals consist of polyphenols that have an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effect . it should be noted that the higher the concentration of cacao in chocolate the more beneficial. Anything above 86 % cacao is great. Lower concentration than this is high in sugar and not of benefit.

GRAPES : the polyphenol reseveratrol mainly found in the skin of grapes and the seeds have anti -inflammatory properties and the pigments in red grapes may have cardio vascular protective properties as well as for allergies, gum disease, dementia and cancer. The bloom found on the surface of grapes contain oleanolic acid helping to excrete liver cholesterols.

VITAMIN D; is different form other vitamins in that is is made in our skin cells when they are exposed to UV sunlight. A deficiency of Vitamin D causes a bone deficiency called rickets, which has had a recent resurgence in cases and may also be implicated in Tuberculosis, some cancers, automiiunce disorders and multiple sclerosis. Care is to be take with the amount of UV we are exposed to because of the high rates of skin cancer , but sunlight exposure in small doses and when the sun is low is most beneficial.

The idea of ME-BYO ( mibyou) is a term that has become popular in Japan, from an ancient cheese medical book it is a state of not being ill but not being healthy. It is where we cannot distinguish between health and disease because there may be not symptoms but abnoramatliets are seen in physical examinations or where there are symptoms but no abnormalities are found. Because of the risk of death from lifestyle related disease and gut dysbiosis, patients with two or more risk factors such as visceral fat, metabolic disease high blood pressure and diabetes are more likely to experience deadly diseases and the focus upon health lifestyle and promoting healthy gut bacteria are considered most important for the reduction in medical expenses and the achievement of a long and healthy life. ME-BYO being that intermediate state between health and disease indicates the need for preventative measures to ensure the balance tips towards health.

Good sleep is required for the processing of data and memories in our brains , the body repairs itself and regenerates tissues , the immune system is boosted during a relaxed sleep state.

By avoiding a high calorie diet and attempting to follow a Mediterranean diet as far as possible with the introduction of phytonutrients in conjunction with mild doses of Vitamin D it is possible to decrease the inflammatory effect of most Western diets.

If you wish to read more , you can read the pubmed article here :


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