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Phytonutrients: Nature’s Pharmacy

Written by: Dr. Fred Harvey, MD

Phytonutrients:  Nature’s Pharmacy

Everyone wants optimal health or to prevent the pain and dysfunction of a chronic illness. This is something that I want, and I pursue it in my daily life. I also seek it for my clients. The practice of Internal Medicine has been reduced to maintaining a patient's chronic illness. Alternatively, in Functional Medicine, we decrease and eliminate the ravages of chronic illnesses. To do so, we look upstream to the source of optimal health, our nutritional foundations. 

We find that our allies in the plant kingdom have created a treasure trove of powerful tools to help to reduce damage and repair our bodies. They even make these tools highly visible, so they’ll attract our attention. Phytochemicals are natural compounds produced by plants. These phytonutrients occur in all of our food plants. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, white, tan, and brown—a rainbow of health on our plates.  


These colorful chemicals communicate with our organs to optimize health. Red onions and red apples contain a red pigment called quercetin which has become well-known as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent to help stabilize the immune system and reduce symptoms of allergy and viral infections of the respiratory tract. The orange compound from turmeric root, called Curcuma, is a potent anti-inflammatory that helps with arthritis pains. Lutein and zeaxanthin are yellow pigments that promote eye and prostate health and come from foods like pineapple, corn, ginger, and many others.  

Green foods include chlorophyll, a fantastic detox agent because it can bind metals. Glucosinolates from broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, like arugula, are potent anti-cancer agents and support the actions of chemotherapy. Resveratrol comes from blue, purple, and black grapes, and is a powerful stimulator to cleanse or repair the liver. It also activates DNA repair genes and is associated with longevity. Grapes also give us anthocyanins which protect our eyes and brains from damage. White, tan, or brown mushrooms contain glucans that stimulate viral- and cancer-killing immune cells to do their jobs as well.  

These few examples just begin to scratch the surface of this cornucopia of nutritional treasures. There are hundreds more well-documented examples. We use this knowledge to create wellness plans for our clients at Harvey Medical Center of Integrative Medicine. We also use the high-potency Phytonutrient extracts in supplements to achieve even more rapid and powerful health transformations for our clients.  

Dr. Fred Harvey is the Medical Director of The Harvey Center for Integrative Medicine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Geriatric Medicine, Functional Medicine, and Holistic-Integrative Medicine, specializing in chronic illness recovery and prevention. To schedule a Functional Medicine consultation, call 941-929-9355. 

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Business Hours:
Monday 8:30am-5:00pm
Tuesday 9:00am-5:00pm
Wednesday 9:00am-5:00pm
Thursday 8:30am-5:00pm
Friday 8:30am-4:30pm
Please note telehealth appointments
with Dr. Fred Harvey are available