3 Things that You didn’t know Plants could do for You
We all know that we’re told to eat five-a-day, but do you feel like fruit, vegetables and plant foods are a bit of an afterthought to your main meal? Do you struggle with creative ideas for including plant foods in your diet? Or do you feel like restaurant vegetables taste amazing but when you cook them at home, it’s just not the same? Where are you at with plant-based foods?
We all know that we should eat more fruit, vegetables and plant-based foods but do we know exactly why? Knowing the answer can help motivate you to want to include more of them in your diet. In the video and blog below I share 3 things you may not know about what plants could do for you!
Plant-based foods are any foods that you would clearly recognise as a coming from plant. More than just fruit and vegetables, plant-based foods include things like lentils, pulses, grains, nuts, and seeds too. Eating more plant foods is not about becoming vegan; it’s about what you add onto your plate, not what you push off it.
So, what do these foods do that is so good for us and why is variety important?
1. Plant-based foods help to balance our hormones. We have more than 50 hormones in our body and if they are slightly out of sync we can suffer from a number of different problems, including:
- Dry skin and other skin conditions
- Period pain
- Issues with our hair or nails.
Without the right nutrients your body cannot make the right hormones. You need omega-3 fats that are found in olives, avocado, nuts, and seeds as well as in oily fish. These healthy fats are essential for our body to store hormones and transport them to right places; they are the real backbone of hormone production. If you have too many hormones in your body, that can cause adverse effects too.
For example, if you have too much oestrogen in your body, you may have painful periods, but just tweaking what you eat to include Vitamin D, ginger or turmeric can help manage those hormone levels to lessen period pain. It’s really important to keep the balance right but if you eat a good variety of plant-based foods your body will sort out what it needs from what you eat.
2. Plant-based foods support healthy gut bacteria, or microbiome. There are thousands of different bacteria all different colours, shapes and sizes different shapes and sizes. We need this variety to prevent us getting ill; these bacteria identify things to fight as well as recognising what not to fight. If we don’t have healthy levels of gut bacteria, our body can think something in that is actually not harmful is something that needs to be fought off, which can lead to autoimmune conditions. And as well as fighting the right things a healthy microbiome also fights better! So, the more diverse your diet, the more diverse your microbiome will be, raising your levels of immunity to give you better protection all round.
3. Eating a variety of plant-based foods can help your body combat inflammation. If you were to get a splinter on your finger it would swell up and be a bit tight and red until the splinter was removed; that’s your body’s natural defences to foreign objects. But sometimes because we get stressed or because we experience toxins in our food or the air around us, our body can operate with a low level of inflamation all the time, even though it’s not necessary. Having a wide variety of plants really helps you to fight that low level inflammation, to deal with it and make sure it doesn’t become a problem.
You may already be eating lots of fruit, vegetables, and other plant foods, but it’s always a good idea to try and increase the variety of what you eat if you can. This will help ensure you get all the different nutrients that you need so they can help with these 3 things.
And how can include more plants in your diet? There are the obvious ideas for including them in meals you are already cooking, by grating or chopping things into a sauce, or serving them on the side. But can you make plants the main focus of what you eating? Could you have a cauliflower steak, a stuffed pepper or a stuffed aubergine as your main dish?
Snacking is also an ideal time to increase the variety of plants that you eat:
- If you like to snack on almonds, why not snack on almonds, Brazils, cashews and walnuts?
- Don’t just stick with peanut butter, try cashew butter or almond butter as an alternative.
- If you’re used to having red lentils, try green lentils for a change.
- If you usually have wholegrain pasta, try some green pea pasta or ed lentil pasta, instead.
- If you usually buy oranges and apples, why not buy bananas and grapes?
Be mindful about increasing the different variety of foods that you eat and maybe explore some things that you haven’t tried before.
And, if you’ve never played ‘plant bingo’ you are missing out! It’s something we’ve been doing in my membership group over the last few weeks as we’ve learnt more about plant-based foods, and it’s a bit of fun. I list some plants and then people can work out how many they’ve had in the last week and maybe get some ideas for new plants to try. We’re thinking of trying it over in our Motivationfish Facebook group too, and we’d love you to join us there!