Why you should be eating 30 different plants a week

In the later half of the last decade, we’ve had a mega increase in documentaries (and for some I use that term extremely loosely) revolving around/supporting veganism and/or vegetarianism.  We’ve heard about the incredibly negative impacts of cattle farming, why we should all be juicing and most recently, that the very first professional fighters were apparently on a plant-based diet.  These documentaries have resulted in different responses from various groups of people:

  • Vegans praised the docufilms and cited them as gospel
  • Some nutritionists and health experts banned together to not specifically discredit the films, but to highlight the misinformation they provided (and to help fill in any gaps)
  • Some of my family members and friends believed everything they saw and posted on Facebook that they were going vegan after watching ________________ (insert any recent vegan promoting docufilm here)
  • Then there were people like me (whose bias is clearly present) who watched the docufilms but knew to take them with a grain of salt.

While I don’t fully support the position some of the docufilms took or the information (propaganda?) they were sharing, there was one big take away from the films that did stick with me and it’s something that we all should be doing…. and that’s to eat more plants!

But Why 30 Plants a Week?

Back in 2018, researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine conducted the largest international study on the human gut/microbiome, dubbed The American Gut Project.  Over 10,000 people sent in samples of their fecal matter (you read that right) to be analyzed and what they found was that people who had a more diverse diet, specifically those who ate at least 30 different plants a week, had a stronger microbiome¹.

The microbiome is the total collection of bacteria, fungus and other microbes located throughout our bodies.  Our bodies actually have more bacteria than they do cells!  Your gut microbiome is located, well, in your gut and a healthy gut microbiome can help boost your immune system and provide additional health benefits.

The challenge was on for my hubs and I to try and get through 30 different plants a week.  We’ve been at it for a month now and I won’t lie and say we’ve succeeded every week.  It’s been challenging and we haven’t yet hit the full 30; we’ve managed to get to 28, though.  We will keep at it.

There’s no doubt in my mind that we could likely all benefit from eating more plants and it probably wouldn’t hurt to eat less meat, but I don’t have any plans to give it up completely.

So, are you up for the challenge?

Ways to Help You Get Through 30 Plants a Week:

  1. Remember that a plant is a fruit, vegetable, whole grain, nut, seed, legume.  Don’t just think it has to have leaves.  Brown rice counts, quinoa counts, chickpeas counts, that handful of almonds counts.
  2. Meal prep.  It makes it a lot easier when you plan your meals in advance.
  3. Keep track of what you’re eating.  My hubs and I have a chalkboard on one of our kitchen walls and we’d write down every new plant we ate.  Keeping a food journal would also be helpful.

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