We know we need them but how much do we need? We all know the 5-a-day rule that was pushed through every media channel known to man, but we what we didn't know is that this number was plucked out of the air because someone up high decided that it was an achievable number for most of the population. The actual figure is more like 10 and as much of our diet as possible should be plant based. These 10 + portions of fruit & veg a day are to maintain our macronutrient levels (vitamins & minerals), to provide dietary fibre for digestive health, antioxidants and to generally keep up feeling tiptop and awesome.
We like thinking that we can keep going, chucking everything but the kitchen sink into our mouths, and that our body will just suck it up and crack on. That's simply not the case. At some point our body will turn around and tell us to do one.
If you are naturally lean or you do a lot of cardio, you generally will need a higher level of carb dense foods to get enough energy. Those of us who are slightly softer in shape naturally tend to tolerate carb dense foods less well and should rely more on veg especially for their carbohydrate intake. Those who fit the latter body shape and are looking to decrease their body fat can use this information as part of the puzzle to reach their personal goals. Simply switching out some of their carb dense foods for veg can work wonders. Veg is STILL predominantly carbohydrates however they are much less dense than their potato/rice/pasta based compadres.
If you are not a lover of veg then you know what I'm going to say - suck it up. You are a grown ass adult. I don't particularly enjoy brushing my teeth - it makes me gag when I do the back ones for any length of time. But I still do them. If I don't do it, my teeth will rot and I'll have breath that smells like the corpse of a dead badger. Consider your insides as my teeth if you will, would you rather have a sleek well groomed badger in there or some roadkill?
Lets consider the exotic delights of the pineapple. Pineapple contains nutrients that can improve asthma & diabetes, skin & hair health, constipation and fertility as well as fighting the formation of cancer causing free radicals. It also improves the healing time after injuries and alleviates joint pain and arthritis.
Likewise the furry face of the vegetable staple, broccoli has a plethera of benefits to those who choose to chomp down on it's green goodness. It reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, it helps to increase bone mineral density and reduces fracture rates in osteoporosis sufferers. It decreases the risk of developing some types of cancers and decreases the effects of airborne pollutants such as cigarette smoke and traffic pollution.
Everything that you put into your body has an effect. So if we consider fruit & veg as one of the keys to living as long and healthy a life as our genetic make-up will allow, then why are we not using these easy to reach keys to unlock more of the doors that will give us the opportunity to reach our fullest potential.
At the end of the day, it's eating fruit & veg. It's not a tarantula and a handful of pig testicles. Get those veggie delights down your neck.
Anna is a qualified Personal Trainer, experienced Group Exercise instructor and a Master-Trainer for an international fitness brand. Owner of Vital Signz Dance. Creator of Always Moving Forward Instructor Network.