‘Eat more veggies’ is a thought that runs through my head like a song on repeat, but it’s a song I’m happy to beat my drum to all day, every day. It’s something that we’ve all had drummed into us through the media and advertisers throughout our lives.
Think back to your parents instilling the virtuousness of greens when you were caught red handed with your paws deep in the lolly gobble bliss bomb packet. Do you ever remember running from spinach and peas at breakneck speed?. The age old message of eating more veg should never burden you, and it should never be a chore to include more of these amazing plant foods into your diet.
I’m currently in a serious love affair with veggies: and in the words of Depeche Mode I just can’t get enough. Pile those babies higher and higher on my plate! Once you know the immense benefits of crowding your daily food intake in with these vitality boosters, it seems nonsensical not to chase them down at every opportunity!
There are so many reasons why we need to increase our vegetable intake and why we need these health savers to be a priority in our diets. Instead of a lengthy list, here are 4 simple, but very important reasons why you should be getting veggies into your diet daily.
1) They will make you beautiful from the inside out. We live in a world that is crazed by beauty, and we’re bombarded daily by advertising of products that claim to hold the key to youth and gorgeousness. But beauty doesn’t have to cost you the world and can be as simple as throwing a few particulars into your shopping basket. After all, beauty is an outward expression of what is going on inside. You can cake your face with lotions, potions, concealers and foundations, or you can experience the natural glow that comes from eating a diet rich in vegetables in a rainbow of colours. Research published in The Journal of Public Health concludes that Cartenoids, a type of phytonutrient found in red, yellow and orange vegetables creates a ‘glow’ in the skin that is perceived as more attractive than a sun tan. Cartenoids are found in vegetables like carrots, red capsicum, pumpkins, squash and green leafy vegetables. Eating a wide variety of coloured vegetables is a big key to keeping yourself looking good. The abundance of phytonutrients act as powerful antioxidants that will protect your skin cells from premature ageing, and from the damage of UV rays, as well as providing anti-inflammatory benefits. For example; Red capsicum has been found to improve circulation, and artichokes are known to protect the skin’s DNA and collagen, and are also highly detoxifying. Now that sounds like one of those scientific spiels you would hear about in a mainstream wrinkle cream ad. Think outside the bottle, jar and tube, and load up on nature’s affordable fountain of youth!
2) They are obesity’s arch enemy. I’m sure you are all aware but In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, the West is in the middle of an obesity epidemic. We have a diet that favours processed foods, animal products and sugar. An increased vegetable intake is proven to correlate with lower rates of obesity, and related chronic diseases. Vegetables are a food group that is so low in calories, it’s difficult to gain weight even if you eat ship loads of them. I’m nuts about nuts, and they have an array of amazing health benefits although it’s important to remember that they are energy rich. Did you know that nuts contain 15 times the amount of calories of their veggie friends? Now I’m not saying that we need to eat all vegetables, and throw out the nuts out the window; balance is the key. But in the modern age, this ‘balance’ has been warped. Our diets are heavily weighted by calorie rich foods, when the majority should be made up of vegetables. If we could get this right, and load up on fresh veg; the drug companies would be in serious trouble! Now I’m not talking about the canola oil slathered, cooked-to-near-death and smothered in cheese kind of vegetables. Nor am I talking about the cup-a-soup, boxed and tinned varieties that claim to have your ‘five veg in one serve’. These are lifeless, rubbish filled mimic’s of the real deal. If you stack up on these kind of ‘vegetables’ for too long, Mr. Chronic Disease will be waiting happily around the corner. What you need is an abundance of fresh vegetables, preferably seasonal and organic. This will ensure you are getting maximum nutrition, minus any nasty chemicals, and a taste that’ll really blow your hair back.
3) They are high in fibre, which is paramount for detoxification. Fibre is something that we all need more of and veggies have a whopping load of the stuff. If your toilet trips are floundering, you may just need to up your veggie intake. While it may not be a table topic you care to ponder, it really is important to ask yourself the question; how many times do I poo each day? Plain and simple. A number two is our bodies most obvious way of removing waste and toxins, so if it isn’t happening very often, it means that you are holding onto all these nasties in the walls of your intestinal tract. Experts say that once a day is the minimum requirement for your toilet trips, and the evacuation should be brief and effortless. Unfortunately these days, our chemicalized diet is so high in animal proteins, saturated and trans fats and other toxic ingredients, that our liaisons with the loo are lessening dramatically, and our internal ecosystems are paying for it. When our detoxification systems are halted from a lack of fibre filled vegetables, our body’s response is to protect itself from the accumulated toxins in our tissues, surrounding them with a layer of fat and mucous. It’s said that an accumulation of five to twenty pounds of encrusted, putrefying faeces is not uncommon in the western population. Yuck! Over time these deposits increase and increase, and are leeched into the blood stream. This is where symptoms of illness arise. Indigenous cultures that have a high intake of vegetables, and therefore dietary fibre, enjoy superior intestinal health and are virtually free of the diseases of modern civilization. Eating a diet high in vegetables gets this elimination pathway working optimally; speeding up the passage of food residue through the digestive tract. This will lower your risk of colon cancer, and decrease the absorption of toxins from stools. Get things moving by munching on more veggies. High fibre veggies include peas, artichokes, parsnips, green leafies, brussel sprouts, fennel and turnips.
4) They are much lower in fructose than their fruity friends. While fruit is glorious in taste and high in nutrients, most fruits are also high in fructose. Unfortunately, the argument that eating heaps of fruit will give you all your nutritional needs is a bit of hogwash. In fact, you are probably doing your body more harm than good. Did you know that table sugar contains 50% fructose, and a banana contains 55% fructose? Fructose is a type of sugar that is converted directly to fat, and our appetite system does not recognise it either, so we need to eat a heck-of-a-lot of fruit to feel full. This is bad news for our weight. The human body has only been designed to tolerate 1-2 small pieces of fruit a day, max, and just one glass of apple juice, whether fresh or not, contains the equivalent to 10 to 12 teaspoons of sugar! Yikes! Remember that most packaged foods, breads, pretty much everything in the modern diet contains added sugar in the form of fructose as well. So thinking fruit can substitute vegetables is a big no no. The high fructose content causes an acidic digestive tract where illness can thrive, it increases inflammation, suppresses the immune system, and destabilises the body’s homeostasis. Vegetables, on the other hand are bursting with just as many nutrients as fruit, but are over all remarkably lower in fructose.
5) They are a ninja against disease. Wanna turn your body into an environment that chronic disease wouldn’t dare step his toes into? Eating oodles of veggies is the first step. For example, cruciferous vegetables like kale, collard greens and broccoli are known to be serious cancer fighters. They are super high in antioxidants, making them wonderful for inflammation, and scavenging the free radicals which lead to the growth of cancerous cells. Green vegetables are also bursting with chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the molecule that absorbs sunlight and uses its energy to synthesise carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water; also known as photosynthesis. This fascinating property is also wonderful when consumed through your veggies, as it oxygenates the blood, improves circulation, reduces DNA damage, fights infection, is anti-carcinogenic, and detoxifies the body of heavy metals. Vegetables are also highly alkalising. A highly acidic environment is where illness will be having a field day, and eating a diet with heaps of raw veggies; especially green vegetables, is a sure fire way to keep yourself in a healthy balance of acid and alkaline. Juicing is one of the best ways that you can increase your veggie intake and experience the alkalising benefits. Green juices work especially well. Fresh vegetable juices are full of living enzymes, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that will give your body the best support to keep its healing systems working optimally, ward of chronic disease as well as providing you with loads of energy.
Well there you have it. If you haven’t been ploughing through your vegetables, hopefully this will be enough to convince you. It is my number one form of health insurance.
Remember to always choose certified organic if possible, as you will get the best quality source of living nutrients, free from pesticides, herbicides and other added chemicals. These days there are hundreds of online organic delivery businesses that will deliver you fresh, local organic veg straight to your door. The local farmers market is another top way to get the highest-quality veg, and most sellers are at least chemical free. Purchasing this way will also mean that the produce hasn’t travelled over continents to get to your shopping trolley; it’s better for your body, and the environment!
Happy Cooking 🙂