Have you heard the phrase ‘Eat the Rainbow’ and ever wondered ‘why’ and ‘how’? WELL…
A healthy microbiome is a diverse microbiome. Research shows that people who consume 30+ plant foods a week have higher bacterial diversity and a healthier microbiome overall.1https://www.indi.ie/11-news/1458-the-30-different-plant-based-foods-per-week-challenge.html Ideal gut donors eat 50 different real foods a week2https://taymount.com/product/50-food-challenge-book, so don’t feel like you need to stop at 30!
Eating a variety of plant foods is much easier, and less expensive than you might expect. Try these 4 tips to easily boost your plant diversity during your food shop this week:
1. Challenge yourself
Each week when you’re doing your food shop, challenge yourself to add 2-3 plant foods to the trolley. Add foods that you haven’t tried before or that you haven’t eaten recently. See what you’re drawn to or even better, check out the deals of the week and grab what’s on offer. Remember, you’re not confined to the fruit and veg aisle. Plant foods also include legumes, pulses, nuts, seeds, whole grains, herbs and spices. Have fun adding new colours, tastes, and textures to your meals each week!
2. Mix it up
One of the easiest ways to considerably boost your plant intake is to simply choose mixed options of each product. Here are some examples:
- Swap chickpeas for a tin of mixed beans.
- Instead of 1 or 2 vegetables, use frozen mixed vegetables or a steam bag.
- Snack on mixed nuts.
- Top your yoghurt, porridge, stir-fry, etc. with a seed mix.
- Add a handful of frozen mixed berries to your morning smoothie or pancake mix.
- Add 1 tbsp of Complete Prebiotic to your breakfast – this contains 18 different prebiotics in 1 supplement!
By simply implementing a few of these examples, you will clock up nearly, if not all, of your 30 different plant foods!
3. Embrace frozen fruit & veg
Frozen fruit and vegetables are just as nutritious as eating fresh! Fruit and vegetables are usually frozen when at peak ripeness which is when they’re full of nutritious goodness. Studies show that the vitamin content of frozen versus fresh fruit and vegetables has no difference, except sometimes the frozen options have MORE of some nutrients.3https://www.theguthealthdoctor.com/why-you-should-embrace-the-frozen-veg/ So, having some frozen fruit and veggies in the freezer is an easy (and inexpensive!) way to increase your plant-food diversity.
Here are some examples of how easy it can be (even on the days you don’t have time to cook):
- Add some frozen mixed vegetables into a wok with some lean meat or tofu for a quick stir-fry.
- Pop a frozen vegetable steam bag in the microwave to have as a quick and easy side dish.
- Add some frozen peppers or sweetcorn on top of your pizza.
- Sprinkle frozen chopped garlic in any of your meals for extra flavour and prebiotic fibre.
- Add frozen mixed berries to your smoothie, porridge, baked oats, pancakes, etc.
- Add frozen spinach to curries, soups or smoothies.
What gets measured gets managed, so simply tracking your plant foods will help you reach your target. Each time you have a plant food (fruit, vegetable, nut, seed, wholegrain, legume, pulse, herb, spice) write it down. Once you have recorded the plant food, if you eat it again, no need to track it again. You may be surprised how easily and quickly you reach 30+ foods! Next week, see if you can add 2 or 3 different plant foods that weren’t on the list this week.
Eating for good gut health does not need to be difficult, time-consuming or expensive. Simple changes can make a big difference. The great thing about a gut-healthy diet is that it focuses on adding instead of taking away – more colour, flavour, fibre, texture! So have fun with it, after all, variety is the spice of life 🌶️
Check out our gut health express recipes for lots of plant-rich meal ideas – recipes here.
Questions? Feel free to get in touch with our Nutritional Therapists via live chat, 8 am to 8 pm on weekdays, to have your questions answered!