Why should I eat more plants?
When we talk about good nutrition there is a lot of noise out there about the latest and greatest fad. Influencers don’t always promote diets and products that are in your best interest so the average person can be overwhelmed with information. Studies show, and throughout my nutrition training, that’s its obvious some of the most beneficial diets on the earth are those that are plant-predominant. No matter what we eat, we can all benefit from incorporating more vegetables in our diets. I would also expand this to include nuts, seeds and fungi which are often lacking in most standard American diets.
1. Diversity is key
A healthy gut is a major contributor to overall good health and can improve the immune system, regulate hormones and even improve mental function and perceived mood. Eating a diverse range of plants through an abundance mindset is the right approach… in short, the more variety of plants you eat, the better. Aim for 30+ different plants a week. This can look like:
- Whole grains – quinoa, rolled oats,
- Nuts and seeds – walnuts, pistachios, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds
- Green leafy vegetables – arugula, kale, spinach
- Fruits – apples, oranges, strawberries, blueberries
- Legumes – black beans, lentils, chickpeas
- Herbs and spices – cumin, cinnamon, garlic, turmeric
2. Don’t forget your fermented foods!
Fermentation is a process in which (good!) bacteria and yeast break down sugars. Eating fermented foods can also boost the number of beneficial bacteria in your gut (probiotics) and are associated with health benefits including improved digestion, better immunity and mental health improvements. Be sure to look for products that contain live bacterial cultures and have not been pasteurized as this kills the bacteria we’re seeking!
Here are a few suggestions:
- Kefir – a cultured dairy product. You can also find water kefir if you do not consume dairy.
- Tempeh – fermented soybeans that have been pressed into a block. Easy to cut, marinate and cook.
- Kombucha – a fermented tea made from black or green tea. Watch for ones that have less than 10g of sugar per serving however.
- Sauerkraut – a wonderful condiment made from shredded cabbage. Be sure to find raw or live cultures. This is usually found in the refrigerated section (not sauerkraut in wine on the shelf).
3. Plan out your plate
Plan your meals with plants being the star of the show. Instead of your animal protein source taking up most of your plate, think of the vegetable side dish as the feature item. Try to aim for your vegetables taking up at least half of your plate, a quarter can then be your meat and then add a good whole grain or healthy fat for the balance. Bonus points if you throw some nuts or seeds in there too! This will dramatically up your servings of whole, plant foods which increases your fiber intake and makes your meal more diversified in vitamins and minerals.
If you need help creating a nutrition plan that is right for you, please do not hesitate to check out my personalized one-on-one nutritional coaching packages. CLICK HERE!