When following a diet or meal structure for some time it’s easy to keep getting into a cycle…
We need a diverse range of nutrients, amino acids, essential healthy fats, minerals, vitamins and trace elements to meet our daily needs.
Our needs are all different with the unique make up of ourselves. The types of nutrients and composition of those foods that we consume regularly, due to simplicity of preparation or preference, won’t completely feed our physical and microbial needs at a cellular level without combining a range of foods and spices, eating different varieties often and not focusing solely on any one macronutrient or removing foods unnecessarily from our diets. For example…
Fat soluble vitamins are stored and used in the liver, we can build these up, store them but we also use them over time.
Water soluble vitamins and trace minerals are excreted through urine… so these need replenishing regularly.
Different tissues in our bodies thrive on different energy substrates and proteins and it’s important that we support those demands.
Our daily demands may also change and for example our focus could be negated by eating the wrong type of foods when we really need to fire ourselves up and focus or vice versa.
It is important to recognise that when you think of any calorie, macro or micro-nutrient that they aren’t only used for one single thing in the body, they will be used in many ways.
People think of ‘protein’ and building muscle but in fact protein gets used to build and maintain structures, make your hair lush, strong nails and transport nutrients into and out of cells….
What happens if I keep eating the same foods over and over???
We need a range of diverse foods to keep feeding our gut - the posh word is ‘microbiota’. The microbiota in the gut can be ‘good guys and bad guys’ and have different metabolic changes. How we influence this? Diet…Prebiotic, probiotics and vitamins and minerals from a wide range of foods. Real (whole) food comes with the nutrients and enzymes to break that food down (it rots) which also gives you the nutrients to digest it.
There’s a correlation between monotonous diets being linked between low microbial diversity, low muscle mass and high inflammation. Definitely what we do not want.
An example are antioxidants…
When we exercise, weight lift or get stressed we burn through nutrients and oxidise energy from protein, carbs and fats. This creates products and by-products. The biggest concern here is ROS (reactive oxygen species - free radicals) which builds up from those 12 reps you did… We shuttle anti-oxidants that we hopefully absorbed from the diet to remove ROS from the body through bio transformation and excretion (poop, urine, breath).
allium sulphur compounds – leeks, onions and garlic
anthocyanins – eggplant, grapes and berries
beta-carotene – pumpkin, mangoes, apricots, carrots, spinach and parsley
catechins – red wine and tea
copper – seafood, lean meat, milk and nuts
cryptoxanthins – red capsicum, pumpkin and mangoes
flavonoids – tea, green tea, citrus fruits, red wine, onion and apples
indoles – cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower
isoflavonoids – soybeans, tofu, lentils, peas and milk
lignans – sesame seeds, bran, whole grains and vegetables
lutein – green, leafy vegetables like spinach, and corn
lycopene – tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon
manganese – seafood, lean meat, milk and nuts
polyphenols – thyme and oregano
selenium – seafood, offal, lean meat and whole grains
vitamin A – liver, sweet potatoes, carrots, milk, and egg yolks
vitamin C – oranges, blackcurrants, kiwifruit, mangoes, broccoli, spinach, capsicum and strawberries
vitamin E – vegetable oils (such as wheatgerm oil), avocados, nuts, seeds and whole grains
zinc – seafood, lean meat, milk and nuts
zoochemicals – red meat, offal and fish. Also derived from the plants that animals eat.
Now here’s the nerdy bit…
When an antioxidant quenches a free radical - it then too - becomes a free radical…
We therefore need other antioxidants to shuttle them out of the body.
Stress = inflammation
Inflammation = higher free radical damage.
Free radical damage = higher need for cell efficacy (using oxygen, nutrients, transport into and out of cells and detoxification).
Stress is the biggest anti-nutrient we know and allergies add onto that stress load.
If you are under stress you need more nutrients and strategies to reduce inflammation. Stress literally switches off areas of your brain, and makes you focus on very few things at any one time. Ever had too much caffeine but actually can’t think at all? Stress pulls blood away from the organs and shuttles it into muscles, then we see people having issues with their metabolism because their livers aren’t functioning well, digestion because stress lowers stomach acid, sleep, you get the idea…
If we keep eating the same foods we constantly use up the same digestive enzymes, which over time will deplete and leaves us unable to digest, breakdown and absorb those foods. This is where people get allergies and intolerances over time.
If we take any popular food for example such as gluten, eggs or dairy (most common), for ‘most’ people they’ve probably eaten these proteins 3-4x a day every day for their whole lives. Then we find that those people have a small bout of stress and the oral tolerance of gluten becomes impaired and then they suffer.
Eat a diverse diet… keep yourself robust.
Remember that the food you eat becomes you…
Use these tables below to highlight simple calorie and macronutrient swaps.
Fibrous - Colour - Food - Benefits
Beans (adzuki, kidney, red) Beetroot
Sweet red peppers
Greens (rocket, chard, spring, dandelion, kale, lettuce, mustard, spinach)
Berries (blue, black)
Rice (black or purple)
Legumes (chickpeas, dried beans or peas, hummus, lentils, peanuts)
Nuts (almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts)
Seeds (flax, hemp, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower)
Tea (black, white)
Whole grains (barley, brown, rice, oat, quinoa, rye, spelt, wheat)
Cell protection Gastrointestinal health
buttercup, butternut, winter)
Source of vitamin A
Widen the variety…
Aim for Thirteen Servings of Plant Foods Everyday
A typical serving is only half a cup of cooked vegetables, one cup of raw leafy vegetable, or a medium-sized piece of fruit.
Know Your Phytonutrient Sources
Phytonutrient-rich foods are limitless, making it fun to experiment with new varieties and colours even within one category of food.
Here are some sources of phytonutrients to get you started: any and all plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and even herbs and spices.
Eat the Rainbow of Colours
Instead of getting the full rainbow of colour, you may be eating the standard processed food colours of brown, yellow, and white.
For example, think of the typical breakfast menu – pancakes, ready-to-eat cereal, sausage, and eggs – which does not necessarily provide much colour early in the day.
However, if you had a fruit smoothie with blueberries, peaches and raspberries, you’d have three colours of the seven colours of the rainbow first thing in the morning.
Vary Your Choices
There are thousands of phytonutrients in nature. Even if we eat the same colourful foods over and over again, we may be missing important phytonutrients in foods.
Try a new food every week to ensure that you are getting variety.
When we put certain foods together, there can be a ‘synergistic’ result from combining them. For example, turmeric with black pepper together in olive oil could enhance the phytonutrient’s of all three foods on your health. Adding lemon juice to spinach could help the iron become more absorbed by your body. Try putting plant foods together for an enhanced health benefit.
Be Creative with Substitutions
One way to get more plant foods would be to think of foods that are commonly eaten that may not be as nutrient dense and replace with nutrient-dense options.
Some plant foods clearly give us more phytonutrients than others! For example, you could substitute mashed potatoes with 50/50 mashed cauliflower and red potatoes. You could substitute white rice with red, brown, or black rice.