Combining Nutrients and Completing the Nutritional Jigsaw
Your body creates millions of new cells every day. Your nutritional intake helps decide whether they will be healthy – or gradually accumulate damage.
Nutrients do not work in isolation. The combination of a wide range of nutrients from your food – including supplements – is a key determinant of your health.
Flavonoids are naturally occurring plant pigments, and are one of the reasons fruits and vegetables are so good for you. Among the many benefits attributed to flavonoids are reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, asthma, and stroke.
Scientists already have some proof that flavonoid antioxidants protect against, and may even reverse the cognitive declines seen from aging. The brain is especially subject to attack from free radicals of oxygen, as it is extremely metabolically active and the body’s largest consumer of oxygen.
Cumulative damage from free radicals occurs across the board but is especially implicated in memory decline and mood disturbance that mark depression [Psychology Today 2012].
Flavonoids are present in many fruits and vegetable, but some sources are better than others. In general, the more deep coloured the plant, the more flavonoids it provides. Good sources of various flavonoids include:
Green tea, apples, grape seeds, dark chocolate, bilberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, apples, prunes, citrus fruits, cabbage, lettuce, and tomatoes.
Green tea appears especially potent. There have been reports that green tea is a considerably more powerful anti-oxidant than vitamin C, but that’s less important than the idea of combining proven flavonoids to obtain a synergistic effect.
The highest concentrations of flavonoids in fruits and vegetables tend to be found in the rind, skin, pips and seeds, and industrial processing methods almost invariably discard these parts. Grape seeds, for example, are an excellent source of these compounds, but are usually spat out or pass through the body.
Grapeseed extract has a high flavonoid content, as does green tea extract and curcumin – derived from turmeric.
Many flavonoids are both powerful anti-inflammatories and anti-oxidants. They are in plants to protect them from free radical damage generated by UV in sunlight. We ‘appropriate’ these benefits when we eat the fruits and vegetables.
The overall effect of flavonoids is anti-inflammatory – so you’d expect flavonoids to help alleviate allergy symptoms and chronic inflammatory diseases.
How flavonoids work
• Many flavonoids are potent anti-oxidants which can mop up large numbers of free radicals, and reduce the amount of damage to cells.
• ‘Free’ iron atoms in the body can generate large amounts of free radicals. Various flavonoids appear to bind to iron, and help render it inert. This is why neither men nor women post menopause are recommended to take a supplement with iron in it.
For a full explanation of how anti-oxidants can be part of an overall and comprehensive health programme, use this link to Chapter 5 of Dr Clayton’s best-selling book, Health Defence.