A Continuation To The Introduction To The Phyto-Chemicals

A Continuation To The Introduction To The Phyto-Chemicals
Christine L. Foutch Naturopathic Physician Rock Island, Illinois

Christine Foutch is a practicing Holistic Physician in Rock Island, Illinois, specializing in Holistic Nutrition and Biomechanics. Holistic medicine is the art and the science of healing that addresses the whole person – body, mind, and spirit. The practice of holistic medicine integrates conventional and alternative therapies... more

There is definitely some uncertainty out there about which of the dietary phytochemicals or the combinations of those plant constituents, that are providing protection to our health. The significance of the role that oxidative stress can play in the development of certain chronic diseases is well recognized. The ability of the antioxidants to hold back the process of oxidation has led to the hypothesis that the ingestion of such nutrients may prevent these disease states. Once again for full clarity, the phytochemicals are the chemical compounds that are produced by the plants, help them to thrive, battle off the competition, and fight off predators as well as various pathogens.

The process of the oxidative-chemistry is multi staged, and its complications forms the basis for multiple mechanisms of pathogenesis. As it stands out there today, there is the need for further research to be implemented on the specific molecules, the mechanisms by which they act, the biomarkers of their status, and their functions. We cannot forget the means by which we can improve our food supplies to come to the full value of the antioxidant. Little knowledge exists about the mechanisms of action of the phytochemicals, or about their role within health-promoting benefits and disease preventions.

Even for the more studied chemicals, such as the B-Carotene, Tocopherol/Vitamin-E, and Ascorbic-Acid/Vitamin-C, neither the basic functions at the molecular level nor the intricate interactions that occur between the components are completely understood. Why? Well, in most of the basic studies that have occurred, there is the evaluation of the individual component reactions. The more complex interactions between those components are not deeply explored. There are new experimental views established from the evaluation of the interactions between the phytochemicals, using B-Carotene, Tocopherol/Vitamin-E, and Ascorbic-Acid/Vitamin-C as the study models. The antioxidant protection does involve the endogenous, or maybe I should say internal-compounds, which will include the various enzymes.

What is an enzyme?
The answer is, they are macromolecules, which are large molecules that act as the biological catalysts. Enzymes go forward to accelerate the chemical reactions and I should throw in here that, almost all of the chemical reactions and metabolic processes in the cell need the enzyme catalysis in order to happen at a rate quick enough to sustain life.

It has become apparent that because of the extensive interaction play out that occurs, that it can no longer be assumed that their total action is equal to the sum of the antioxidant entity alone. As for the individual micronutrients and the other bioactive phytochemical compounds, it has been said many times that in general the effects of the whole food is more pronounced than that of the individual micronutrients/bioactive phytochemical compounds. The non-nutrient components of our diets actively participate within the oxidative balancing act playing out within the living cells.

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Christine Foutch - Holistic Physician

Resources/Contributors:
Jon Hopkins Medical Institution
National Institute of Oceanography
Department of Chemistry, University of New York, Albany
Dept. Food Sciences and Technology University California
Phytochemical Lab USDA
Biological Sciences Dept.
Nutritional Epidemiology Branch
Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition
Department of Nutrition and Environmental Sciences