The founder of Food+Spirit, Deanna Minich, Ph.D., shares her experiences as a functional nutritionist and detox specialist. Her most recent Detox Summit educated 70,000 practitioners and patients on the physiological and psychological value of restoring one’s body back to health by focusing on phytonutrient-rich foods. She has motivated thousands of people to get back on track to healthy eating and emotional wellness. Through her Detox Challenge, as many as three thousand participants learned the value of adding colorful foods to their diet to improve their health. By Kimberly Lord Stewart
Kimberly Lord Stewart: Where can one find phytonutrients in food?
The word “phytonutrients” means “nutritional compounds from plants,” so essentially any plant food will contain an array of these medicinal compounds that impact our physiology through one or more pathways. Examples of plant foods include fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, nuts, seeds, legumes, and grains. The whole, or unprocessed forms of these foods are preferred, as phytonutrients would be more abundant compared with foods that have been processed or manufactured extensively.
KLS: How can patients know whether they are eating enough colorful foods?
DM: It’s a rather easy exercise to know whether you are getting enough colorful foods. Here are some overarching questions to ask yourself about your daily meals:
- Am I eating more whole foods rather than processed foods?
- Am I eating about 10 servings (or more) of whole foods per day?
- Am I getting one of every color food every day
If you answer “yes” to these questions, chances are that you are getting adequate colorful foods. It’s also a useful activity to have patients write down what they eat in a day and put lines of color through foods with markers to see what colors they are eating. A simple exercise that keeps them on track.
KLS: How can one make “smarter” food choices with greater nutrient density?
DM: It’s important to know which foods are nutrient dense. Many foods are positioned as “super foods” yet the actual phytonutrient content is not discussed. In my webinar, Phytonutrients & Detox: 7 Colors, 7 Steps to Get Clean through Whole Foods,I review the different categories of food and highlight best choices in each category.
KLS: Why is eating a rainbow variety of foods essential to healthy detox?
DM: What we are learning about foods is that they uniquely satisfy particular functions in the body. If we are eating the same foods every day, chances are that we will be missing out on the complexity of compounds we could be obtaining through a mixed diet. The different colors of food correspond with different phytonutrients. Many of these phytonutrients have complementary roles to one another. We have learned from scientific studies that it is perhaps more important to eat small amounts of a wide variety of nutrients rather than large amounts of a single nutrient, possibly because of the synergistic action of food compounds. When it comes to detox specifically, this process is orchestrated in multiple organs by several pathways which require a spectrum of nutrients to make them work efficiently. The more complexity of nutrients we have in our diet, the more efficiently we may be able to detox.
KLS: What are some ways to get more of each color in everyday eating?
DM: In my webinar, I discuss these and other ways to get more phytonutrient density and color in everyday eating:
- Use spices in every meal
- Instead of white rice, try brown, purple or black rice.
- Switch from mashed potatoes to sliced carrots or mashed cauliflower
- Switch from corn to spinach
- Get one smoothie per day
- Add rinds of oranges or lemons to water, chicken, fish
- Eat fruit salads
- Make stir-fries
- Try a little bit of every color at a salad bar
KLS: What are your favorite tips on how to prepare plant-based foods to maximize their detox potential?
DM: Some general tips include the following:
- Green Tea + Citrus: Citrus fruits help preserve the catechins in green tea, which are important in detox.
- Turmeric + Black pepper: The detoxifying activity of curcumin — the main phytochemical in the spice turmeric — is increased by a factor of 1000 in the presence of piperine (in black pepper). Olive oil may further enhance the effect.
- Chopped Garlic + Time: The healthful organosulfur compound diallyl disulphide is made when garlic is left to sit for 10 minutes after being crushed or chopped.
Learn more from Dr. Minich from her webinar Phytonutrients & Detox; 7 Colors, 7 Steps to get Clean through Whole Foods, including how to integrate 10-13 daily servings of plant foods into the diet, the most nutrient- dense plants foods, and preparation tips for optimal benefit.
Deanna Minich, Ph.D., is a functional nutritionist with a unique approach to clinical medicine that combines physiology and psychology. She recently hosted The Detox Summit (thedetoxsummit.com), an online event featuring 30 experts on detox, which was attended by almost 70,000 people worldwide. Following The Detox Summit, she led 3,000 people through The Detox Challenge, a 21-day, online, functional medicine-oriented detoxification program. She continues to expand her work on the topic of detox, by writing a book on this important topic. She is a Board member for the American College of Nutrition, and adjunct faculty at the University of Western States. Dr. Minich is the author of five books on nutrition, wellness, and psychology, and is passionate in helping others to live well using therapeutic lifestyle changes.