Why the fuss about Veges?

Written by Cherise Pendergrast – Nutritionist 

You might be thinking- ‘yes, heard it all my life- veges are good for your health….’ But have you ever wondered why?

Vegetables have heaps of different vitamins and minerals which work together and on their own in different ways and help support everything from cells maturing so they form the tissues in our body, to raising the defenses against illness and damage, to supporting growth and repair.

Their impact on all parts of our health should not be sniffed at.

Plus- they also add valuable fibre to our daily diet. Sure, fibre sounds boring like the bran stuff we get told to eat after the age of 50 to lower cholesterol, or what your mum or grandma suggested you have more of when you are a bit…. ahem…. ‘stopped up’….

Yes- fibre does do both of those things and both are super important given our statistics in New Zealand for both heart disease and bowel cancer- we need to be paying attention to having more fibre from early on.

BUT- did you know the fibre that we get from plants (vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, legumes, nuts, and seeds)…the very stuff that helps our digestion keep moving nicely- is also what the beneficial bacteria in our guts need to thrive, grow and do their thing?
I know, bacteria living in your body sounds pretty gross, and can be a bit freaky. But it’s there and keeping the balance of the ‘good’ bacteria vs ‘bad’ bacteria is crucial for all our health- not just our guts.

What the bacteria do impacts our immunity, our mood and mental health, our ability to be in a satisfactory weight range, and even whether certain genes switch on or off to develop into chronic health conditions or disease. Gut bacteria do all that and more so it’s worth keeping the helpful ones happy by eating lots of different plants each day and going easy on the high-sugar, high-fat, white flour foods which the ‘bad’ gut bacteria thrive on. An imbalance of ‘bad’ bacteria outnumbering the ‘good’ bacteria can have negative effects on our health in both the short term and long term.

Find ways to include more plants in your day-to-day to enjoy long term health gains- not just because your mum said so.


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