Different Plant-Based Foods a Week
Gut health seemed to be all the rage in 2019 and it doesn’t look like 2020 will be any different. Lots of people are starting to take a keen interest in their gut health. It’s not surprising as we’re learning more and more about our gut microbiome and the various effects it can have on many aspects of our body and health from our mood to our metabolism to our digestion and immune function.
While we don’t know everything about our gut microbiome, one thing we can be sure of is that fibre is pretty important. Certain fibres resists digestion in the small intestine, and makes its way to the large intestine and ferments, creating short chain fatty acids, an important source of fuel for the body and bacteria. The breakdown of fibre also regulates pH balance, promoting the optimal environment for beneficial bacteria.
We have lots of different strains of bacteria living in our gut and all of those different strains thrive off plant based foods which provide fibre. But the thing is, they all love different types of fibres.
This leads us on to our key recommendation about improving and maintain good gut health - eat plants and lots of different types!
Different plant based foods contain different fibres along with different vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. A study known as the The American Gut Project looked at the diet and lifestyle factors that affect the gut microbiome.
One of the major findings from this study was that people who ate 30+ different plant foods a week had a far more diverse microbiome than those who ate 10 or less plant foods. A more diverse microbiome is thought to be advantageous and associated with better health outcomes than a less diverse microbiome. These results were independent of the label of the diet that people followed aka whether it was vegan, vegetarian or contained animal foods such as meat, eggs and dairy.
This means that one of the best things you can for your gut health is to include a wide range of different plant based foods in your diet such as different fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, wholegrains and legumes.
How to Hit Your 30 a Week!
Now you know it’s beneficial to aim for 30+ plant based foods in your diet every week. But 30 seems like a big number! So how can you hit this number?
Choose a new fruit or vegetable to try each week
Check out your supermarket’s special offers on fruits and veggies each week. Many shops do an offer such as “Super 6” where there are a selection of fruits and veggies on special offer. This is a great way of saving money and adding more diversity to your diet
Top things like oats and yoghurts with nut butter or mixed nuts.
Add beans or lentils to dishes such as chillies, bolognaises to up the fibre content as well as the diversity of the meal.
Choose mixed grain rice.
When buying frozen vegetables or fruit, opt for mixed bags.
Mix up your carb sources! We can all get into the habit of always sticking to the same carb sources but alternating sources is a good way of getting a better selection of micronutrients into your diet too. Try including a range of sources such as oats, wholegrain bread, rice, pasta, quinoa, white potatoes and sweet potatoes.
Herbs and spices also count towards your 30 different plant based foods so make use of them to flavour your food.
Try different varieties of bread and pasta. While many people always stick with wheat, there are also lots of other grains available such as rye and spelt
Choose a different nut butter each time you finish a jar. There are lots of choose from peanut butter to almond butter to cashew butter and hazelnut butter