Think of a healthy and balanced diet as more than just fuel necessary to power the body for day-to-day activities, but also as a way of reducing the risk of chronic diseases and even cancer.
Doctors recommend varied meals with plenty of vegetables and fruits because they provide a number of essential compounds, like antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, anti-inflammatories and also phytonutrients. These are natural chemicals that help the immune system in its continuous fight against germs, bugs and all other threats. Carotenoids, just one of the thousands of such chemicals, are responsible for giving carrots their trademark orange tint, or that beautiful bright red in tomatoes.
Between three and five servings of greens daily seems to be the ideal ratio. It can seem much, but remember that you are spreading them across the whole day. You don’t need to carefully measure the amounts every time, just aim to have them on about half of the plate for each meal.
As you start to change your nutrition more towards a plant-based diet, keep in mind to increase hydration too. You will be incorporating more fiber so you need to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Most people are worried that a healthy diet somehow means a dramatic change in eating habits. It’s not. You are just shifting the focus more on vegetables or healthier alternatives, and the change should be gradual. For example, consider having a piece of fruit as a snack, instead of the usual sweets or chips.
Something as simple as switching from white rice to brown rice can make a big difference. They are very similar, but this way you get more proteins and healthy fatty acids. Another simple tip is to have a wide selection of foods from different color groups. This way you can ensure you’re getting many of the different phytonutrients.
While you won’t really notice the effects of this healthy lifestyle change immediately, you will definitely be glad you did later in life.