Get your health to it's most optimum and join my January Plantanuary challenge.
Ever heard of the word phytochemical? Well this is just a sciencey name given to a group of plant chemicals. Unlike macro and micro nutrients (e.g. protein, fats & Iron) they are not considered essential to your diet. However, they undoubtedly boost your health & contain nearly all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre needed for a healthy diet. There is plenty of evidence demonstrating the benefits to our health of eating more plants. For example, in one study, women consuming more than 10 servings of fruit and vegetables a day after breast cancer treatment, reduced their recurrence by 31% compared to those eating only 5 portions a day.
The positive effects of a plant-based diet have also been widely researched in the interests of diabetes and obesity. It has been reported that the diversity of the phytochemicals contained by plants has a greater capacity to improve insulin sensitivity and lower chronic diseases. Phytochemicals are therefore undoubtedly essential for keeping our biology in balance and, in particular, for regulating our metabolism and weight.
The NHS recommends us to consume 5 portions of fruit & veg per day, however there isn't any scientific evidence which depicts why 5 is the magic number. There are many different classifications of phytonutrients and they all have different health benefits, which means the more diverse our plant based diet is the more health benefits we can reap from them. Additionally, the more diverse the diet, the more diverse your gut microbiota will be, resulting in a healthy & happy gut.
Some easy ways to get more plants into your diet can include adding berries to your breakfast, veggies in your pasta, mixed seeds in yoursmoothie and nuts on your stir frys. Herbs & spices also add more phytochemicals to your diet, along with boosting the deliciousness and flavour of a dish. So try incorporating some of the below into your meals
- Celery seeds
Another thing to think about is do you always go for those same shiny red apples and the standard red peppers? If so try going for the mix bag of peppers and green apples one week for a change. Other things you can try are:
- Buy mixed stir fry packs instead of grabbing the same veggies
- Aim to try out a new recipe at least once per week - inspiration is key
- Try cooking your veg another way e.g. steaming instead of roasting
- Experiment with different herbs & spices in your meals
- Dont be afraid to try a new seasonal veggie and experiment with how you like to prepare it
So this January challenge yourself and get the most out of your diet by incorporating 30 DIFFERENT plant based foods per week. Don't forget plants can include vegetables, herbs, spices, fruits, nuts, seeds, pulses and grains so aim to diversify and try something new!
I have created a chart you can download here to help keep track of your weekly intake and help self assess your diversity.
Good luck & enjoy!
Greger, M., 2018. How not to die. 2nd Edition ed. London: Pan Books.
Guess, N., 2018. Dietary interventions for the prevention of Type 2 Diabetes in high-risk groups: Current state of evidence and furture research needs. Nutrients, [Online] Volume 10 (9), pp. 1-13. Available from: MDPI <https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/10/9/1245> [Last accessed 07 October 2018]
Holford, P., 2004. The optimum nutrtion bible. London: Little brown book group.
Rossi, M., 2019. Eat yourself healthy. Penguin books