Why is it important to eat a daily variety of fruits and veggies?
Short answer: Because they give us micronutrients.
What are Micronutrients?
Micronutrients are the vitamins and trace minerals required for normal growth and development. Vitamins were first termed in 1912 by Casimir Funk. At the time, the germ theory recently became a popular theory to explain the cause of diseases.
However, other scientists were looking for data to suggest that germs were not the sole cause of all diseases. Researchers began identifying some noncommunicable diseases such as scurvy and rickets were caused by specific micronutrient deficiencies.
While severe chronic malnutrition have become less common in our modern society, more current studies indicate many links between sufficient micronutrient intake and long-term health, cognition, and healthy aging. In other words, we need adequate micronutrients to prevent malnutrition and disease, and also keep ourselves generally healthy and functioning at our peak.
Where do micronutrients come from?
All foods contain micronutrients. Some examples of micronutrients include: calcium, potassium, sodium, biotin, Vitamin A, B, C, etc... If you are interested in reading more about the functions of various micronutrients and where you can find them click here.
There are about 15 micronutrients that are classified as nutritionally essential. For that reason, it is important to eat a daily variety of foods - especially fruits and vegetables. Two food groups that we often forget and/or rarely vary.
So how many servings should I aim for?
Adult men and women should shoot for 5 or more servings of fruits or vegetables a day.
How many of us can honestly say we get that on most days? It’s no secret almost everybody could use some help with their fruit and vegetable intake. According to the CDC, about 1 in 10 American adults eat an adequate amount of fruit and vegetables a day. This number ranged from 7%-16% depending on the region of the country.
Eeek! There’s no way I can get that many servings on most days.
Supplements don’t replace whole foods they fill gaps in nutrition.
Many people (myself included) can greatly benefit from taking a greens supplement.
Greens supplements (greens) can help augment a diet that is low in fruits and vegetables with a variety of vegetable grasses and exotic fruits .
Greens can help you when you travel where healthy food choices can be near impossible at times
Greens may help recovery because they are very alkaline in nature. High protein diets and exercise training makes your body a more acidic environment. Eating foods high in alkalinity (vegetables) is thought to attenuate this.
Finally, greens supplements often contain multivitamins complexes that completely fill daily micronutrient needs, and probiotics to promote gut health, and gut microbiome diversity.
Word of caution:
It’s important to remember, greens supplements are not a substitute for actual food – micronutrients absorbed from whole foods are absorbed into the body differently than in powdered forms. Real fruits and veggies are also high in water and fiber.
Also not all greens supplements are created equal. It’s important to choose supplements that have been third party tested and true to label. Some reports have found mislabeling of nutrition labels, and the presence of contaminants such as heavy metals. A selection of third party tested greens can be found here.
Conclusion and Big Takeaway
Adequate micronutrient intake is associated with positive long-term health outcomes and healthy aging.
Most Americans do not eat the daily-recommended amount of fruits and vegetables
Sometimes we get so focused on hitting our macronutrient goals we forget to add daily variety to our diets. No worries, a greens supplement helps us fill this gap so we can hit our macronutrient and micronutrient targets without going crazy.