In episode 8 of What The Func?! Podcast, our hosts Laura Schein,Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach (FMCHC), and Clayton Farris, are trying to figure out what to eat during this crazy quarantine, so they sit down with functional medicine expert, FMCA educator, and author of The Rainbow Diet, Dr. Deanna Minich, about how to boost the immune system through colorful foods, aka phytonutrients!
What are phytonutrients?
In Functional Medicine, you will hear the term “phytonutrients” pretty regularly, but what exactly are they? Phytonutrients, also called phytochemicals, are chemicals produced by plants. Essentially, phytonutrients are components of plants that are powerful defenders of health. Phytonutrients contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that stimulate enzymes that clear toxins, boost the immune system, and improve cardiovascular health.
How can you tell what foods are phytonutrient rich?
Phytonutrients rich foods are colorful fruits, vegetables, whole grains, herbs, legumes, nuts, seeds, teas, and many spices. At The Functional Medicine Coaching Academy, we teach on using The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) Phytonutrient Spectrum Checklist and the Diet, Nutritional, and Lifestyle Journal to guide clients through incorporating more into their diets.
6 step to getting more phytonutrients:
- Aim for the quantity, to get the total amount of plant foods every day. Can you get up to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day? The guidelines and these come from a variety of different opinion leaders and sources but essentially 9 to 13 servings of plant foods every day is considered to be the benchmark. While it may sound like a lot, it equates to one cup of leafy vegetable or half cup of other vegetables or cooked vegetables or fruit juice to a medium size piece of fruit. You can essentially get four to five servings of plant foods just in a lunchtime salad.
- Know your sources, as we learned from above, it's not just fruits and vegetables, it's also nuts, seeds, spices, herbs, and whole grains or millet, amaranth or quinoa if you are gluten-free.
- Eat the rainbow, focus on the different colors, and getting those in every day versus the quantity. This is an easy, enticing, and creative message to latch on to.
- Vary your choices, when you hear “eat the rainbow” it is very easy to just cruise along the grocery store looking for colorful foods. However, the key here is to be conscious of the types of foods you are choosing and their benefits.
- Maximize combinations, if you are unsure how to do this, try smoothies, soups or salad bowls! Smoothies are a great way to up phytonutrients in a diet because not only are you're getting the benefit of less sugar, you can really pack in lots of antioxidants, fiber, and other essential nutrients in one refreshing gulp!
- Be creative with substitutions, you do not have to eat the same thing every day! Be adventurous substituting or trying out different foods, such as purple cauliflower, dragon fruit, or star fruit.
The benefits of phytonutrients are endless! Remember if you are new to this, you can do this, focus on eating the rainbow!
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“The Rainbow Diet.” Deanna Minich, www.deannaminich.com/the-rainbow-diet/.