I’ve been sharing my top tips for making positive change easy. We started off looking at looking into why you might want to make change, and how it’s important to go at your own pace. Then it was time for action – eat more (fruit and vegetables), go brown, make easy swaps, eat real food and now finally – variety.
When it comes to eating food that supports gut health (which in turn supports our whole body), variety really is the spice of life. We evolved eating a wide range of foods – basically whatever was available throughout the year. Foraging for different plants and eating all parts of these plants including the fruits, flowers, stems, roots and tubers, meant our ancestors ate up to 130 different types of foods. This provided a huge range of nutrients and different types of fibre that helped us to survive and to flourish.
For modern humans, variety is increasingly becoming a thing of the past. In the Western world, around 90% of the food eaten comes from just 4 sources – wheat, meat, corn and dairy. These are all common in a highly refined, limited diet. And, in my mind, apart from the affect on gut health, eating can become somewhat monotonous when you just eat the same thing day in, day out.
One of the things I love about eating a whole-food plant-based diet is it encourages me to explore and discover new textures and flavours, and to get creative with seasonal produce. Eating a range of foods means I give my body a huge range of nutrients, including phytonutrients, the magical tiny chemicals found in plants. It’s one of the reasons I encourage people to eat a rainbow every day, ie: eat foods from each colour group as these will all contain different chemicals that support the body’s metabolic processes. These phytonutrients can also help protect cells from damage and can moderate and even slow the ageing process, something I am very keen on doing as I rapidly head towards another birthday!
And it’s not just fresh produce that make a difference, but herbs and spices too. Which makes sense as traditionally these have been used for their healing properties for thousands of years. Spices from Asia like turmeric, cumin and ginger and herbs more locally grown like rosemary and thyme all have an ancient wisdom we can continue to benefit from by including them in recipes used throughout the week.
So how many foods should you aim for in a week? Not 130 that’s for sure! Research coming out of the American Gut Project suggests that 30 a week is ideal. Do you know how many you eat? If you’re interested in finding out, and in upping your weekly intake then check out this 30 a week challenge here. If you give it a go, do let me know how you get on.
I hope you have enjoyed this series of posts and that you manage to try out some of my suggestions. As with any positive change, you don’t have to do all of them if they’re too much, but do try something. You never know where it will lead you!
You may be reading this at the beginning of the year as part of your New Year’s resolution. But these steps are perfect at any time. It’s never to late to make positive change – you just need to start.
Do let me know how you get on by either posting below of feel free to send me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org.