How Eating a Rainbow of Foods Can Support Your Health
Most mornings I try to start my day with just 10 minutes of simple meditation. OK, so I’m still struggling to stop my mind wandering off thinking about the day ahead, I know it will probably take years of practicing meditation for me to be able to achieve that, but I do know that it gives me a sense of calm and focus to face the day head on.
It was after meditating early one morning during lockdown that I found myself staring at a full rainbow. The peace and tranquility of the moment led me to think about the significance of a rainbow and why we are so fascinated by it. Over the last few months during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, the rainbow has been adopted as a symbol for the NHS – we have displayed rainbows in our windows and on buildings as a way of showing our pride and thanks to all the NHS workers for their service. The rainbow flag is also a used as a symbol for LGBTQ social movements and has been used as a symbol of peace around the world too.
As a nutritional therapist, a rainbow of foods is equally as powerful and significant as it provides diversity to support optimal health. But how often do we eat a plate full of colour? Every day? Every week? Every month? Or perhaps not even that often?
Eating a wide variety of brightly coloured vegetables and fruit each day has many benefits towards helping us live healthier lives and what better time to strive for optimal health and well-being than during these times of COVID-19. As Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food”.
Vegetables and fruit contain powerful natural compounds called phytonutrients (phyto = plant). They contain a wealth of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and there is strong evidence to show that phytonutrients lessen our risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Our healthy gut bacteria, which are essential for supporting our immune system, gut integrity, synthesizing certain essential vitamins and carbohydrates and fending off pathogens, depend on a diversity of phytonutrients as fuel in order to thrive.
It’s best to eat an abundance of vegetables and only small or moderate amounts of fruit, as fruit contains natural sugars which may cause issues with blood glucose if eaten in excess.
The specific health benefits and components of phytonutrients vary depending on their colour which is why it’s essential to eat as plentiful and diverse an array as possible to promote optimal health. For example, orange vegetables (such as carrots) contain beta-carotene which is beneficial to skin health and vision, blue fruits (such as blueberries) contain polyphenols which support our brain with mood, learning and memory and green foods (such as dark leafy greens) contain carotenoids and flavonoids associated with protecting our skin, brain function, blood glucose and blood pressure regulation. And the list goes on….
Book an appointment with me today to discuss how to incorporate the rainbow into your diet, take the ‘Dietary Diversity Rainbow Challenge’ and learn more about which specific foods can help to support your individual needs on your journey to optimal health.
Functional testing to assess your nutrient status can also be arranged to further target your therapy and can be done easily from the comfort of your own home!