Blog, Fibromyalgia, Health

Phytonutrients, Enzymes & Amino Acids

The best thing I love about phytonutrients is actually the word itself. Pronounced “fight-o-nutrients”, it gives me a kick to keep fighting!! So,on a more serious note, phyto means plant in Greek – therefore phytonutrients are nutrients found in plants. Plants basically need these nutrients for protection from germs, fungi, bugs, and other threats. In humans, they help prevent disease.

Phytos (It is way to long to type the whole word each time!) are found in all fruits and vegetables. This is the pigment that give the fruit and vegetables their colour. There are more than 100,000 phytos to be found in fruit and vegetables. Phytonutrients provide immense benefits but are deemed non-traditional, ie. These are not vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates nor fats.

Let’s mention some of the more researched and discussed phytos.

  1. Carotenoids

    This is what gives some fruit and veggies their yellow, orange and red colour. This phyto can be converted into Vitamin A which helps to boost our immune system.

    Alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin are not just anti-oxidants but also natural anti-inflammatories.

  2. Lycopene

    This phyto is found in peppers, tomatoes, paprika, eggplant, white potatoes and tobacco. However, these are also considered to be nightshade veggies which are deemed bad because they contain solanine. There is limited research but extensive conflicting opinions.

    There is a discussion that Lycopene should be taken in the form of a supplement.

    It is good to note however that strawberries, blueberries and all other berries do not contain solanine. The only exception to this is the Goji berry.

    Lycopene also needs vitamin C in order to be effective.

  3. Ellargic Acid

    Pomegranates and berries contain Ellargic acid. Ellargic Acid is another beneficial anti-oxidant. When it comes to this category, the raspberry is a clear winner.

  4. Flavonoids

    These are anti-oxidants with an additional benefit. Flavonoids positively affect cell signalling. Making the receptors more alert.

    The subgroup of flavonoids includes quercetin and kaempferol. They are found in onions, leeks, brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, tea, berries, beans and apples.

    Just to note: Quercetin is an antihistamine associated with helping to relieve hay fever, asthma and hives.

  5. Resveratol

    Grapes, purple grape juice (I hear the nightshade alert buzzing here!) and red wine are effective anti-inflammatories which contain resveratol.

Thats 5 out of a 100,000? Let’s just say that these phytos are really good for the health and since we do need to improve our general health in addition to fighting our fibromyalgia, we need to commit ourselves to consuming a high percentage of fruits and vegetables in our daily food.

So, now we come to the other part of our diet. That is to eat more raw and lightly cooked food. Here, we are referring to enzymes.

Enzymes are complex proteins, that enable chemical changes to take place at a much faster pace than our body would be able to without them.

The best part is that we never need to worry about the side effects of enzymes because it is a bio chemical reaction which only takes place when the system requires it to. Each enzyme only speeds up ONE specific reaction.

all enzymes are proteins but not all proteins are enzymes

All the work inside our cells is done by enzymes. That’s how important enzymes are. You can say, that it is the enzyme that breaks molecules and the enzyme that can out a molecule together. However, it is equally important to remember that enzymes do not work alone. They only work in the presense of vitamins and minerals. Thus, these are also known as co-enzymes.

Enzymes are basically a combination of amino acids. There are 20 standard amino acids that our bodies need to function. A combination of these need to be consumed daily – be it in one sitting or over the span of a day.

Twelve amino acids are manufactured by the human body, and nine, called essential amino acids, must come from our diets. You need all 20 amino acids because they are the building blocks of our organs and tissues. In order to obtain the essential amino acids your body doesn’t make on its own, you need to consume protein. Animal sources of protein (milk, eggs, and meat) contain all the essential amino acids. Vegetarians or vegans can obtain all their essential amino acids (known as a complete proteins) by eating a variety of plant-based proteins — beans, whole grains, nuts, or seeds.

Everything we do is movement – conscious and auto – be it the flow of blood, the pumping of our heart or the digestion process. Movement requires energy, our muscles that enable the movement require energy. It is the digestion process which provides us with the energy we need. In short, our digestive system needs to allow the nutrients in the food to be to be broken down and absorbed into our bloodstream. This process of breaking the food molecules down is enhanced by enzymes.

So the question here is – how do enzymes and amino acids help those with fibromyalgia?

Dr. Vickery who has been researching fibromyalgia, is of the understanding that fibromyalgia is caused by a protein deficiency (the reasons for this can any of various causes). Hence, eating clean proteins is a very effective way to combat fibromyalgia.

Secondly, we are all aware of the extensive reearch which can lead to the conclusion that fibromyalgiacs have serotonin, vitamin B complex and magnesium deficiencies which explain our propensity towards being depressed and tired, low ATP levels (cellular repiration oxides the food into ATP which is in turn used to provide energy to our cells) which increase fatigue, pain and muscle spasms and and also low growth hormone level which again increases fatigue and fibrofog. All this simply means that we need to add not only natural sources of these minerals and vitamins, but also other other vitamins and minerals which help the absorbtion of these necessary components.

Further… sorry but there is more to complete this picture I am trying to create… let’s take an example of serotonin, a very, very important part of the fibromyalgia management plan. Serotonin, cannot be made without 5HTP and 5HTP is not readily available. So our system uses an amino acid called tryptophan to produce 5HTP which in turn produces serotonin.

I hope I have been able to give you an overview of how our system works to create and provide our body and our cells of the required nutrients. This understanding will help you (and me) in our understanding of the food choices we make every single day towards minimising fibromyalgia flares.

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