Did You Say 30 Plants A Week??
December 4, 2023
by Andrea Black, R.H.N. (www.wellnessinbodied.com)
Can you believe that we are less than a month out from Christmas? Wowsa – time is a weird thing these days for us in this house – it’s going both very slowly and at warped speed – maybe its related to having a toddler or maybe it’s the fog of the unknown times that we are in – or both of those things combined. Who knows? All I know is that it’s a little bit dizzying – are you feeling the same way?
As I whirl my way through the oblivion that is 2020, I’m becoming attached to the idea of having more of our most valuable commodity – TIME – and I realize that the best thing and really the only thing that is in our control for ourselves to ensure more time is to take great care of our health. Being healthy buys us time. Time to be with the ones we love, do the things we enjoy, share our gifts with the world and get the most out of our experiences. Ok, maybe for some this is obvious BUT how we take care of our great health might not be so obvious. My greatest suggestion here is to take especially great care of your gut health. Why? Because 70% of our immune system lives in our gut and without it we don’t stand a chance against time. What is even more surprising is that the only thing separating this section of our immune system from our gut bugs or microbiota is a single layer of cells, a fraction of the diameter of a single sheet of paper!! Although these two parts are separate, they are actually deeply intertwined and in constant communication – “evidence has shown us that our microbiota help to foster the proper development of immune cells, identify invaders, get immune cells to the needed location, and then enhance their infection-fighting power” (Bulsiewicz, W, 2020).
A common theme that I am seeing with my clients at the moment is a major lack in one specific nutrient that is particularly important to gut health. In fact, it seems to be the number one nutrient lacking from the diet of most North Americans and especially those who are eating the Standard American Diet or the SAD 😞 diet. Can you guess what nutrient it is that I’m referring to?
Nope, not protein….nope…not vitamin C either….it’s Fiber!! Fiber is the #1 predictor of gut health and most importantly, a variety in the types of fiber that you ingest, which comes from consuming a variety of plant foods. Sadly, a glass of Metamucil or a bowl of bran flakes just isn’t going to cut it. The average American gets 15g of fiber per day – A SAD diet is rich in meats, processed foods and oils, refined flours and sugars and contains next to no fiber. The healthiest societies on earth, described by Dan Buettner, live in the Blue Zones – 5 geographic regions scattered around the world – where living with good health into the 100’s is not uncommon have a few things in common, one of which is the diversity in plants that they consume, which has them taking in closer to 100g of fiber per day!!!
Does 100g of fiber sound like a dizzying number to you? It really is in comparison to a measly 15g, but you don’t have to get there all at once! Where does one even start? The best place, according to Dr. Bulsiewicz, is to aim to consume 30 different plants in a week. WHAT? 30 plants in a week? That sounds wayyyy too hard – this is often the response that I receive when I offer up this recommendation – so, let me break it down for you in order to make it more manageable and attainable! I want to point out here that I said 30 plants not 30 vegetables ;)
Plants include vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, fresh herbs and root spices, like fresh ginger and turmeric. Still overwhelmed?
Ok let’s try looking at having pasta sauce for dinner – the basics are tomatoes, mushrooms, sweet peppers, onions (4 plants), add some garlic and fresh herbs – basil, oregano, thyme (up to 8), toss in some zucchini and a handful of spinach (that’s 10) and serve over spaghetti squash instead of noodles (you’re at 11). Super basic dinner and you are already up to 11 plants – in only one meal!! Most people have on average 21 meals per week so there is an abundance of space to get the other 19 plants in.
If every time you make a meal, you think to yourself, “can I add more plants to this meal?”, you may find that you are even surpassing the 30 plant rule! Reaching for the rainbow and trying to incorporate a variety of plant colours into your meal will make this even easier. Remember – different plants feed different microbes so get wild, try new things and have fun with it! I’m betting that you will find your gut microbes celebrating and immune system more robust – the overall result – MORE TIME.
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