Do you eat 30 different plants each week?

"It has been shown that individuals who consume at least 30 different plant-based foods each week have more varied gut bacteria, and ultimately a healthier gut microbiome as a result." Susie Burrell - Good Food

On Thursday there was an article in The Age, headed - vary diet for good gut reaction. The article went on to say that we should all be eating 30 - yes 30 - different plant based foods per week. Not even 20 is enough.

Ok - so after the first feeling of complete failure that washed over me, I read on and saw that this was not just vegetables, or even fruit and vegetables, but included whole grains, seeds, nuts and herbs, although another article that I read gave these last three less brownie points - only a 1/4 of a point in fact:

"What counts? All of your fruits, vege, wholegrains, legumes (beans and pulses), nuts and seeds, herbs and spices. 1 portion per point, with herbs and spices getting 1/4 point each." Dr. Megan Rossi - The Gut Health Doctor

I don't know what constituted a portion. I haven't done an actual count but I'm willing to bet that I get nowhere near 30 different plant based foods per week.

I'm sure we all know that gut health is supremely important in every possible way, from our physical health to our mental health and everything in between - indeed it's all connected. I wrote about it very early in my blog writing career - in July 2016 - a post called Fibre and the human biome. Although the focus there was slightly different. So I'm not going to go into all of that again. Although I did pinch the same picture for my header, as it's so good. The main point there was that you needed a hugely varied quantity of bacteria in your gut for overall health, and that one way of achieving this was through eating a lot of fibre.

Back then I think there was more emphasis on quantity and fibre. Today the focus is on variety. For me anyway this first became an awareness of needing to eat 5 different fruit and vegetables per day. I don't think wholegrain or herbs, nuts and seeds came into it. I think this has possibly now been upped to 10. Anyway when I started to think about it I became concerned that perhaps I didn't do that every day. A piece of fruit - maybe two. Some salad, and maybe a couple of vegetables in the evening's dinner. Maybe I would reach five, but not ten.

Now, however, I find that it has to be 30 different plant foods per week. I'm pretty sure I don't achieve this, although I have not counted. After all, like most of the western world apparently - including the Queen who is said to have a fondness for Special K - breakfast is same old, same old every day. For me it's a cup of coffee (coffee's a plant - does that count?), and a piece of toast, a croissant or a crumpet with some jam and butter. Do I have any plant based food there at all? Jam perhaps - it is home-made. Sugar's a plant - does that count?

Lunch is generally a piece of bread or toast with something on it - not always vegetable - it could be sardines or cheese for example. The bread is often wholegrain though.

Dinner - well that is varied and there is almost always some onions in the mix. Maybe potatoes, but not that often really. Always - well almost always - a green salad. Not a mixed one, and there would usually be one or two vegetables either in the dish itself or as an accompaniment. But really not very much. I do best on variety in winter I think when we have more soups and stews. As I said recently - I am really not into salads.

I had to smile or maybe grimace might be the better word, when I read all the articles that said I should put as many different things as possible into my smoothie. Obviously they assumed that we all ate smoothies. Well I don't. Neither do I eat Nourish bowls like this one. Well I don't really like a whole lot of foods like that mixed up together. It's a bit like buffet meals where you put four or five different dishes on the same plate. Really not for me.

Then there are those healthy mixed salads. Also not for me. This one is fairly simple, but some of those from yesterday's supermarket recommendations would probably fit the bill.

The other approach is lots of small dishes. Which is fine if you are having a big party but not for two. According to Dale Berning Sawa this is the Asian approach but I suspect it might be Middle-Eastern too or at least they would like us to think that:

"All you need is a base (my default is a bowl of rice, but grains, mashes and breads all work) and as many sides as you can muster. " Dale Berning Sawa - The Guardian

Such a lot of work involved there, unless you buy a lot of prepared stuff in jars, or spend lots of time making pickles and relishes. Actually she was saying that the Japanese aim for 30 different foods a day! Although to be fair I think this included the meat and fish foods as well. Alas I fear even if I count those I don't come anywhere close.

I will close here. In minor despair. I am making a quiche for dinner from this and that but it won't probably have more than three or four different vegetables in it, and I don't think either cream, eggs or pastry count. And a green salad is only one more thing.

I shall have to think about this.


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