Eating a wide variety of plants daily may be one the most important and least appreciated things we can do to improve our health. Traditional cultures ate a wide variety of vegetables/plants – so many in fact that it is challenging for some of us to replicate this practice in modern life. Traditional cultures also focused on diversity with the plant itself – they consumed the root, leaves, stems, seeds etc. It is estimated that traditional cultures ate as many as 300 to 400 different plants and animals per year and up to 15 – 20 per day, whereas today it averages to about 20-40 per lifetime for many people.
Our microbiome still benefits from this diversity and this may be one of the reasons there is such a high prevalence of gut, autoimmune and chronic disease issues today. The microbiome itself is incredibly diverse and requires dietary diversity to maintain itself. The microbiome is critical to overall health because apx 90% of our immune system is in our gut, it is the site of where we absorb all of our nutrients and it is the site and producer of much of our serotonin, which plays a role in mind and mood.
So how does this translate to the way we eat? We actually get what we need from a certain vegetable after one or two bites – then we would benefit from taking one or two bites of another vegetable and so on. So eating a huge plate of broccoli thinking we are doing the right thing, might not be the most ideal way to get a diverse range of nutrients in our diet.
One consistent theme of the dishes served at Cook Together, is that the menus usually contains several vegetables and usually a wide variety of nutrients. Menu 24 contains several vegetables that might lesser known to many of us. We can easily get into ruts with vegetables and shopping for them – we stick to two or three that we like and we do not venture very far from that. However we know that eating a wide variety of colors and plant species, as well as the whole plant – seeds, leaves, stems, roots etc. is most ideal.
So how do we put this into practice?
- Try one new vegetable every time you shop for produce
- Grow a garden and plant a wide variety of plants
- Include salads that contain rainbows of colors and different plant species
- Freeze different organic greens and incorporate them into smoothies, soups, and stir fries.
- Utilize the whole plant –seeds, root, leaves, stems etc