7 ways phytonutrients support healthy ageing and longevity
Increasing evidence shows that unhealthy ageing and likelihood of disease and disease progression are strongly associated with excess reactive oxygen species, more commonly known as ‘free radicals’, and with chronic low grade inflammation.
While not considered essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals, phytonutrients have been extensively studied for their health benefits, including their role in healthy ageing and longevity.
Phytonutrients can reduce cellular damage, support the immune system, and potentially lower the risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, and other age-related and inflammatory-associated conditions.
In this blog, we will explain what phytonutrients actually are, their role in healthy ageing and disease prevention, and where to find them.
What exactly are phytonutrients?
Phytonutrients, also known as phytochemicals, are natural bioactive compounds found in plants. The term "phyto" comes from the Greek word for plant. They are responsible for the pigments in vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds that give them their characteristic, vibrant, rich colours such as orange, yellow, red, green, blue/purple/black, white/tan/brown.
Here are 8 ways that phytonutrients contribute to healthy ageing and longevity:
1) Antioxidant activity
Phytonutrients such as flavonoids, carotenoids, and polyphenols have powerful antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help to protect our cells from oxidative damage and stress by harmful molecules called free radicals. They neutralise these harmful compounds and prevent oxidation of cells that would otherwise cause harm and dis-ease in the body.
2) Anti-inflammatory effects
Research shows that phytonutrients have the ability to switch off pro-inflammatory genes and switch on anti-inflammatory, anti-ageing ones.Chronic inflammation is associated with various age-related conditions, including arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive decline. Some phytonutrients, like curcumin in turmeric and resveratrol in grapes, have anti-inflammatory properties that may help mitigate inflammation and promote healthy ageing.
3) Anti-ageing effects
Growing evidence shows that phytochemicals, such as resveratrol, green tea extract EGCG, epicatechin, quercetin, and curcumin, are anti-ageing molecules and consuming them in the diet can promote health and extend lifespan, including reducing oxidative stress, suppressing low-grade chronic inflammation, inducing autophagy (cleaning out damaged cells).
4) Cardiovascular health protective
Certain phytonutrients, such as flavonoids found in berries, cocoa, and tea have been linked to improved cardiovascular health. They may help reduce blood pressure, enhance blood vessel function, lower cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
5) Brain and cognition protective
Studies show that certain phytonutrients, such as flavonoids in berries and anthocyanins in purple fruits, may support brain health and cognitive function. They can help protect brain cells from oxidative damage, reduce inflammation in the brain, and enhance memory and learning.
6) Skin health and healthy skin ageing
Some phytonutrients, such as the carotenoids beta-carotene and lycopene, have been shown to promote healthy skin and healthier skin ageing. They exert antioxidant benefits that protect the skin from sun damage and contribute to a youthful appearance.
7) Gut health supportive
The dietary fibre that phytonutrient-rich foods provide, e.g., berries, vegetables, and whole grains support a healthy gut microbiome (bacterial balance) by feeding beneficial bacteria and helping them to grow and thrive. A healthy microbiome can positively influence digestion, nutrient absorption, immune function and much more.
Phytonutrients have been shown to play promising and significant roles in promoting health, healthy ageing and longevity, and reducing the risk of chronic diseases that plague so many of us today such as heart disease, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and other age-related conditions. However, it's important to note that research on phytonutrients is still evolving and the specific mechanisms of action and health effects of each compound are not fully understood. That said, we are in no doubt that eating a diet rich in a variety of colourful plants rich in phytonutrients and other essential nutrients is essential for health and longevity.
At JUNIUS we are passionate about phytonutrients, which is why we have developed our colour-coded, phytonutrient-rich 7 pillar range of delicious cold-pressed juices, nut milks and shots, all to target specific health goals.