You may have seen that more and more people are talking about the importance of having a diverse diet. 5-a-day no longer seems to be enough. Why is this? Is it really necessary? How do we adopt a more diverse diet?
Fear not, read on and all your questions will be answered. Incorporating more diversity into the diet does mean adding more plants to your meals and snacks. However, we really want to highlight that having a more plant heavy, diverse diet does not mean you have to adopt an entirely plant based diet. In fact, we’re all so unique which means that diet diversity will look really different to everyone!
If you are considering adopting a plant based diet, it’s important to note that it’s recommended to do this slowly. Significantly increasing your plant intake will contribute to higher levels of fibre (which is great) however, if this is done very quickly it doesn’t allow the gut time to adapt which means you’re more likely to experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, flatulence and changes in bowel movements too.
So why is diversity important?
With the rise in interest around gut health, we’re starting to understand the impact this can have on our overall health. Evidence has shown that a more diverse bacteria profile is associated with beneficial health outcomes such as reduced inflammation, improved mental wellbeing and weight management to name just a few. As a result, ensuring that we try to get a wide variety of plants in the diet can help to support gut diversity. You may have heard of trying to get 30 different types of plants into the diet each week as being a new target in addition to 5-a-day.
Individual species of bacteria in the gut feed off different fibre types and therefore in order to feed a variety of bacteria we need to eat plants containing a range of fibres. It’s still important to consume 5-a-day as this refers to quantity of fruits and vegetables, whereas eating 30 different types of plants is about variety of plant foods rather than just the quantity of fruit and veg.
How can I get 30 different plant foods into my diet each week?
Eating 30 different plant based foods per week can sound quite daunting. However, when you break it down and consider the categories which fall under plant foods you’ll find it far more achievable. For example, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, beans, pulses, herbs and spices are all counted as part of 30 different plant foods. Our meals are the perfect way of increasing your diversity as we ensure we incorporate a wide range of plant ingredients. In addition to the Transformation Chef meals try to purchase one new fruit, vegetable, nut, seeds, beans or pulse each week as this can help you to become more creative in your cooking. Additionally, opt for a variety of herbs and spices in your cooking as these also contribute to the recommended 30 different plant foods. Aiming for one plant based meal per day is another really great way to try to hit your 30 plant foods.
Should this all sound too overwhelming, break it down and start with aiming for 15 or 20 different plant foods and then slowly increase your intakes until you’re hitting 30. This doesn’t have to be achieved overnight and going through the journey is key. Remember this is your diet and your journey, take as much time as you need and try not to feel overwhelmed by the guidelines.