WHAT'S THE PURPOSE?
The aim of the 30-plants-a-week challenge is to improve your gut health by eating a wider variety of plant foods. The challenge first hit the headlines a year ago, and since then, it has rocketed in popularity. The challenge is based on one of the largest international gut-health studies, which found that eating 30 different plant-based foods a week could help support your gut health.
TAKE THE CHALLENGE
While fitting 30 plant-based foods into your diet weekly can sound like a lot, it’s simpler than you might think. So, what counts? All fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans and peas), nuts and seeds, whole grains, herbs, and spices—anything derived from plants.
Your gut microbes—the trillions of microorganisms that help you digest, absorb, and use the nutrients in food—thrive on a varied, mostly plant-based diet. Increasing the diversity and number of bacteria makes your gut healthier. The 30 Different Plants in 7 Days Challenge is about helping people do just that.
WHY DOES GUT HEALTH MATTER
When we feed our gut bacteria food that helps them thrive, such as fiber-rich plant foods, they produce compounds called short-chain fatty acids. As well as looking after our gut, short-chain-fatty acids help our bodies absorb certain nutrients and support our immune system. A healthy gut also reduces inflammation and lowers the risk of chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers.
TOP TIPS TO HELP YOU REACH 30 A WEEK
Mix it up: Swap the plant foods you already eat for ready-to-go mixes—almonds for mixed nuts, kidney beans for three-bean mix, white bread for multigrain, lettuce for mixed salad leaves.
Start the day right: Breakfast is a great time to rack up the plant count. Choose whole-grain cereal, and top it with fruit and some nuts—that’s already three plants for the day, in one meal!
Big on bowls: “Nourish bowls,” salads, and soups are great lunchtime options that will have you well on your way to 30 a week. Sprinkle some seeds on a salad, and you can easily hit five to six plant-based foods at lunchtime alone.
Try something new: Try a new fruit or veggie each week, and it will instantly help you switch up the recipe repertoire.
Get saucy: Making your own pasta sauce is not only a fabulous way to avoid the high salt content of store-bought sauces but also an opportunity to add in extra plants! Try an herby pesto or supercharge your marinara by adding mushrooms, baby spinach, or grated carrot.
Make snacks count: Fresh fruit, veggie sticks with hummus, a handful of nuts, avocado on whole-grain crackers, or yogurt with fruit and seeds will all count toward your 30.
STILL STRUGGLING TO HIT 30?
Check out our website (sanitarium.com.au) for plenty of plant-powered recipe ideas! Write down all the plant foods you include in your weekly diet, and you might be surprised how quickly they add up. Your gut will thank you for it!
Article courtesy of Sanitarium Health Food Company. Subscribe to receive the latest nutrition advice, plus health and wellness tips to help you live a healthier, happier, and longer life: http://www.sanitarium.com.au/subscribe.