BANT (The British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy) have released some generalised food advice that is far more up to date than the antiquated government Eatwell Plate.
This chart makes the recommendation to eat vegetables and a small amount of fruit from each of the colour groups - not quite corresponding to a rainbow.
The pigments that give vegetables and fruit their colours are the naturally occurring antioxidants that help keep us healthy.
Toxins from the environment, diet and from our own internally generated toxins result in free radicals accumulating in our tissues.
A free radical is a molecule, atom or ion that is highly reactive due to a 'lonely' extra electron. The electron has a negative charge and the free radical is just dying to grab tight hold of a positive charge and dump its negative charge onto another molecule in your tissue. Because it is so desperate it reacts violently and a cascade of violence begins as the negatively charged electron is passed from one molecule to the next, damaging your tissues in a cascade reaction as it does so.
This is where antioxidants come to the rescue. They are capable of negating the negative charge by accepting the unwanted electron without getting damaged themselves, much like a saint, buddha or an aikido master might be capable of peacefully disarming a troublemaker.
Different types of antioxidant work together in specialised ways to protect you and the different colours of vegetables and fruit correspond to different classes of antioxidants. Hence the advice to eat from each colour every day.
Even the very process of energy production in your cells produces free radicals. If we don't have enough antioxidants the mitochondria that produce most of our energy become damaged and shut down and fatigue results.
To support your great health please eat upward of seven portions of vegetables and fruit per day, limiting the fruit to 1-2 portions a day.
Some of us – myself included - have a genetic predisposition to require even larger quantities of plant antioxidants to protect us from the toxins of the modern world and may need to eat in the order of a kilogram of non-starchy plant matter per day! This is where a juicer can come in handy, but please enjoy sweet fruit in its whole form so that the sugars release slowly into your bloodstream.
Do not rely solely on a juicer. See it as an extra. Around 80% of the antioxidants in vegetables bind to the fibre. Bacteria in your colon break the fibre down releasing the antioxidants which thus protect you from colon cancer.
The colourful phytochemicals found in vegetables and fruit also turn on anti-inflammatory genes and turn off inflammatory genes reaching deep within the nuclei of your cells to protect you.
Thus good antioxidant status is vital in order to enjoy abundant mental and physical energy, to burn energy for weight loss and reduce fat-building inflammation, to slow down the ageing process and to help avoid almost every disease you can think of from cardiovascular disease and cancer to depression and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Article written by Tom Sokolowski - London, Totnes
Tom has always been interested in health and nutrition, even as a child. His degree was in physics, but after his undergraduate degree he began practising Tai Chi and other body awareness practices and became fascinated in the non-linear kind of intelligence found in spontaneous movement and creative expression. He contracted... [read more]