Updated: Dec 2, 2020
Why do we need phytochemicals?
Contemporary research studies suggest diets rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains may offer some degree of protection against cardiovascular disease, neurodegeneration (protect against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s), cancer, type 2 diabetes and possibly more. According to World Cancer Research Fund phytochemicals have the potential to work against oxidative damage within our cells and protect DNA damage and are capable of DNA repair. They also exhibit hormonal balancing actions and are anti inflammation among many other health supporting properties.
Bioavailability - How available are these properties to us?
Bioavailability is the degree to which these phytochemicals are available to the body for utilization. Unfortunately, some potent and popular anti-inflammatory and anticancer foods such as curcumin’s active ingredients have poor bioavailability/absorbability. This has been confirmed by research and is due to the compounds poor absorption, rapid metabolism, and rapid systemic elimination.
We can transform these phytochemicals to make them more abundant, more stable and more activated and increase absorption. Abundance relates to the quality of the soil where it is grown. By fortifying and balancing the soil nutrients we afford plants freedom to maximize their yield. Also, if we grow or buy local can guarantee the yield is not compromised between harvest and our plates. Stability has to do with the fact that our bodies’ biochemical pathway differs from those of plants. Food combining can effectively make nutrients more bio-available. For example Curcumin can be volatile and be prematurely broken down and excreted. It is best to use turmeric (curcumin) with black pepper. Black pepper has active compound called peperine.
Peperine appears to stabilize curcumin molecule and inhibit is metabolism. Since it also fat soluble it best to always incorporate it into fatty dishes to maximize its potential and absorbability.
Recipe: Turmeric Golden Milk
1 Tablespoon Ghee (or butter)
1 Tablespoon grated fresh turmeric (or 1 teaspoon powder)
4 – 6 green cardamom pods
1 small piece of grated fresh ginger
Pinch of saffron threads
Pinch of black pepper
2 cups of nut milk or cow’s milk
Pinch of nutmeg powder (optional)
1 Tablespoon of honey or maple (optional)
In a sauce pan slowly warm up ghee (or butter) and spices. Once it starts to bubble and release aroma add milk and bring to a gentle boil. Cook slowly while stirring to maintain smooth
consistency. Simmer for about 5 min. Then remove from heat add honey and a dash of nutmeg.