If you are interested in nutrition, you probably have come across the following advice: eat 30 different plant foods a week, eat the rainbow. So what is behind these phrases? In this piece, we would look into the following:
● Why are we recommended to eat more plants?
● Why do we need to eat the rainbow?
● Why is it good to eat 30 different plant foods a week?
● Tips to eat more plants
Why are we recommended to eat more plants?
There are trillions of microorganisms living inside us, and most of them live in our gut. Research shows that gut microbiota or microbiome plays a crucial role when it comes to our health, it helps with digestion, and benefits our immune system.(1) An unhealthy gut microbiota might contribute to various disorders, like weight gain, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, etc.(1) Each person has their unique microbiome, and it depends on foods they eat or don’t eat. Out of all nutrients we consume, fiber is what feeds our gut microbiota directly. A human body can’t digest and absorb fiber, so it is what makes us feel full, what adds bulk to the stool, and what feeds microbiome. The best sources of fiber are fruits, legumes, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds. So if we eat different plant foods, we provide our microbiome with various sources of fiber, as a result we get a diverse microbiome, which is an indicator of good gut health.(2)
Why do we need to eat plant foods of different colours?
Plant foods of different colours provide us with different vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients (other active compounds in plants which help our bodies to work properly).(3) ‘Eat the rainbow’ approach means to encourage people to not only eat fruits and vegetables of different colours, but makes it easier to eat more plant foods in general.(3) Think of it as a simplified way to increase the total number of plant foods in one’s diet by making sure they consume foods of 7 colours on a daily basis (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and white). This is a simpler strategy to ensure our diet helps us to grow a healthy and diverse microbiome.
Where the recommendation to eat 30 different plant foods comes from?
One of the largest gut microbiota studies to date found that the individuals who consumed 30 different plant foods a week had more diverse gut microbiota. No matter what diet the participants of the research were following, the ones who consumed at least 30 different plant foods per week had more diverse gut microbiomes.(4)
How to add more colourful plants into your diet?
When it comes to plant foods, we are talking not only about vegetables and fruits, but also about nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains. So, first of all, make sure all these food groups are part of your weekly diet. Secondly, make sure and choose different types within each group: don’t just go for rice or quinoa, try buckwheat, bulgur, millet, barley, etc. A good thing about many plant foods is that it’s really easy to stockpile on the once and they would last months. Last but not the least, try and have at least 3 different colours of plant foods with every meal.
Let us know how easy you find the above, and how incorporating more colourful plant foods in your diet makes you feel?