I love to describe the idea of phytonutrients to kids. Dr Sears likes to called them ‘Phytos’ and kids love to hear all about what ‘phytos’ can do for your body to fight off disease. We love superheroes in our house and Josh loves nothing more than donning a cape and pretending to be Batman.
I like to think that plant foods have super powers (phytonutrients). These Fight-o-nutrients fight off invasion from bacteria, viruses and disease so the plant can survive and grow strong. Plant foods are fruits, veggies, beans, spices and herbs.
Fight-o-nutrients protect plants from insects, disease and major sun burn. The same plant fight-o-nutrients that protect plants protect people too! Plants also provide us with vitamin and minerals that are needed for activities our bodies perform everyday.
Plants also have antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. These compounds work together with the plant’s fight-o-phytonutrients as a team to:
Keep us healthy
Keep us at a healthy weight
Fight off disease, germs, and bacteria
You can tell your kids that you love these foods because they are the source of your powers. These foods can help you feel and be your best. They work best when eaten every day!
Plant foods also protect our DNA. DNA is a list of instructions that tells our bodies what to do. We want to make sure it tells it to do the right things! By protecting our DNA, we help protect our eyesight and memory. We also slow down aging, prevent cancer, heart disease and diabetes. But most of all, these foods help keep us looking and feeling great!
When we eat too many foods that have added sugar, salt or flour that isn’t in its natural form, it’s not good for our bodies. Those foods are called “processed foods” and they take the place of healthy foods that protect our DNA. We need lots of these healthy foods in our diets. Remember DNA is a list of instructions that tells our bodies what to do, so we want to keep it in its best shape!
Processed foods are very low in important disease fighting nutrients. They don’t contain high amounts of antioxidants and fight-o-nutrients (phytonutrients). Nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, spices and herbs work together to fight sickness. Kids and adults need many different types of plant foods to make sure they are getting different nutrients needed to help DNA work in all the different parts of our bodies. That way, our bodies can stay strong and healthy. So make sure to eat all sorts of fruits, veggies, beans, whole grains, spices and herbs in all the colours of the rainbow.
To eat foods that are jammed packed with nutrients to fuel their super powers:
Instead of… eat these…
Fruit Roll Ups or dried fruit
– Try fresh fruit salad, orange slices or fruit smoothies made with low fat milk, rice milk or soy yogurt
Biscuits & Cookies
– 100% Whole Grain Crackers or 100% whole grain oatmeal cookies
Squeezable or fruit yogurts
– Low fat plain or vanilla (soya) yogurt with fresh fruit mixed in or raisins or honey
– Carrots, celery or apple with all natural peanut butter or low fat cream cheese
Cheese dippers or Cheesey string things
– Grated Cheese, avocado & tomatoes on a rice cake
Trail mix with chocolate pieces
– Trail mix with dried cranberries or raisins or just nuts on their own like cashews
Remember to eat more fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains and healthy snacks to protect your DNA.
As we get older each year our DNA doesn’t work as well. DNA is a list of instructions that we store in our body that tells our body what to do. Damage to our DNA piles up and can lead to changes in our genes. These changes lead to heart disease, cancer, wrinkles and other damage to our bodies. With these super foods you can “protect your DNA” to feel and look great!