Untitled Document
 

Phytochemicals
by Derek Tresize
 

 

People everywhere are very confused about nutrition. I see this every day working with clients as I sort through the questions and conflicting information most people use as the foundation of their eating habits. And who can blame them? With all the pseudo-science diet books, scare tactic nutrition stories on the news, and processed food ads we are inundated with everyday, it's no wonder many people are confused or dead wrong about what they should be eating. This is just as true in the supplement industry as anywhere else. I recently went through several of my old exercise magazines and clipped out some nutrition articles. For those of you who read such magazines with any regularity, you probably recognize the type of article I was looking for. They usually begin with “such and such chemical found to have xyz dramatic health benefits”, then they go on to tell you to buy said chemical in supplement form. I always find these articles funny (and frustrating) because of their obvious implications. Here are some I cut out as examples:

Antioxidants in blueberries found to slow the effects of aging – CNN

Beta-ecdysterone in spinach increases protein synthesis [muscle growth] by 20% –MuscleMag

Betaine from beets found to increase muscle endurance and recovery – Flex

Fruits and vegetables
help maintain muscle mass and reduce muscle wasting in older adults
MuscleMag

ECGC in green tea boosts the immune system and helps reduce bodyfat – Muscle and Fitness

Capsaicin in hot peppers helps reduce overeating and aids in loss of bodyfat – Muscle and Fitness

Polyphenols in apples increase muscle strength – Flex

Licorice extract from the licorice plant increases weight loss – MuscleMag

Resveratrol in grapes is a potent anti-cancer chemical – Men’s Health

Lycopene in tomatoes prevents prostate cancer – Eating Well

The pattern is pretty obvious to me, but the magazines inevitably go on to advertise a supplement form of the aforementioned chemical to reap the health benefits. It seems a lot easier and less expensive to me to eat a salad or have some fruit. Not only that, but there are literally thousands of phytochemicals in all the plants we eat. Isn’t there just a chance one of those that hasn’t yet been studied is also beneficial? Isn’t there also a chance that some of these compounds have synergistic benefits when eaten together? It seems reasonable to assume so, so we can go ahead and say that eating produce to ingest these miracle compounds is easier, cheaper, and more-than-likely much healthier than taking them as isolated supplements. This 'striking' revelation has already been discovered by many esteemed health professionals such as those with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, The T Colin Campbell Foundation, and many other pioneering physicians who routinely cure incurable diseases like advanced heart disease and type 2 diabetes, all with the power of plants! So, the next time you are reading a health magazine and see the latest research suggesting a new plant-extraction as a supplement, ignore it and then ask yourself: "Have I eaten my produce today?"

Derek Tresize

BS Biology

ACE Certified Personal Trainer

Certified in Plant-Based Nutrition