Updated: Mar 30
The latest findings around the gut microbiome are showing that it is more valuable for your immune system and overall health to have diversity in the organisms. Similarly, recent research is showing that botanical diversity in our diets has a more protective role compared to larger amounts of foods with fewer phytochemicals. What this means is that we should be aiming to have variety in our plant-food choices – variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds as well as herbs and spices. This is also a great strategy to reduce the risk of developing food sensitivities which are more common when we over-do staple foods.
Some benefits of high botanical diversity diet:
Significant reduction in DNA oxidation (1) There is a positive correlation between the number of unique plants we eat and microbial diversity, regardless of whether you are vegan, vegetarian or omnivore (2)
Those who ate more than 30 types of plants per week had reduced abundance of antibiotic resistance genes (2)
Eating a higher diversity of brightly coloured plant foods has a dramatic effect on short chain fatty acid (SCFA) production (3)
By including a variety of colours in your diet, you are creating an environment with many health benefits: improved detoxification, hormone health, liver support, cardiovascular health, brain health and more.
CHALLENGE: Can you eat at least 50 different plant foods in 1 week?
For 1 week, keep track of every different food you eat, aiming for more than 50 selections of every colour (red, orange, yellow, green, purple/blue).
How to count them:
red and white onions count as 2 different foods; as do red and white cabbage
bread and pasta count as just one food: wheat
herbs, spices and oils each count as individual ingredients
include all plant-foods: vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, grains, fat and oils, herbs and spices.
You can track your foods simply with a note in your phone, or use the attached PDF: https://darouwellness.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Challenge_-Can-you-eat-50-differnt-plant-foods-in-1-week.pdf
To help with your tracking, here are food ideas from each colour.
Eating the rainbow for a variety of phytonutrients:
RED Benefits: anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, heart health, hormone health, liver healthAppleGoji berryRaspberryBeetOnionRed PepperBlood orangePlumStrawberryCraberryPomegranateRooibos teaCherryRadicchioTomatoPink grapefruitRadishWatermelon
ORANGE Benefits: anti-cancer, anti-bacterial, Immune health, reproductive health, skin healthApricotNectarinePumpkinBell pepperOrangeSquash (acorn, butternut, winter)CantaloupePapayaTangerineCarrotPersimmonTurmeric rootMangoPeachYam
YELLOW Benefits: anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, cell protection, cognition, eye health, heart health, vascular healthAppleGingerPineappleAsian pearGrapefruit/td>StarfruitBananaMelonSummer squashCornMilletYellow pepper
GREEN Benefits: anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, brain health, hormone balance, heart health, liver healthArtichokeCabbageGreen teaAsparagusCeleryGreens (arugala, chard, collard, dandelion, kale, lettuce, spinach)AvocadoCucumberLimeBell pepperEdamameOkraBok choyGranny smith appleOlivesBroccoliGreen beansPearBrussels sptroutsGreen peasZucchini
BLUE/PURPLE/BLACK Benefits: anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, cognitive health, heart healthBerries (blue, black, boysenberry, marionberry)EggplantPlumCabbage (purple)FigPotato (purple)Carrot (purple)GrapesPrunesCauliflower (purple)Kale (purple)RaisinsChard (purple)OlivesRice (black or purple)
WHITE/TAN/BROWN Benefits: anti-cancer, antimicrobial, gastrointestinal health, heart health, liver health, hormone healthCauliflowerJicamaSauerkrautCocoaLegumes (chickpeas, dried beans or peas, lentils, hummus, refried beans)Seeds (flax, hemp, sesame, sunflower)CoconutMushroomsSoyCoffeeNuts (almond, cashew, pecan, walnut)TahiniDatesOnionTeaGarlicPearWhole grains (barley, brown rice, oat, quinoa, rye, spelt, wheat)
Please share your chart with me, and whether this changed the way you ate this week. It takes a little extra effort to break your usual habits with food selection and grocery shopping, but it’s a very simple way to help your gut microbiome, which based on the multitude of recent studies is truly the centre of your health.
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