One of a number of problems with government guidelines on health and nutrition is the 5-a-day guidance we’ve had for a long time now. In my opinion, all this has done is convince people that if they eat 5 portions of fruit or vegetables per day they will be healthy. I know enough people who force down 5 then go and attack fast food. I know enough people who feel it is a chore to eat this many, but do anyway to feel less guilty about their diet. I will however concede that 5 is better than 0.
50-60 years ago when farming was less intense and everything was organic we didn’t have this problem. But with the introduction of synthetic fertilizers and more intense farming methods we have gradually caused a depletion of organic matter from our soil and we are losing the mineral density in what we are growing our food. The crops we then farm contain far less nutrients than what you’d have found decades ago. Variety and breeding of crops will also play a part in this too and in the pursuit of high yield and appealing looking produce can lead to a decline in the nutrition in the crop itself.
Hopefully we will see a change in the advice the government is giving us. If you do a quick internet search there are plenty of articles even on the NHS site to change it to at least 7, some articles 10 but I think we should be suggesting along the lines of 7-12 for non-athletic people. Where you get it from shouldn’t change either, eat the rainbow is a good phrase I’ve heard before, mix it up, buy local, buy organic and buy as fresh as possible,
What I tell my clients is that to support their training, to ensure adequate recovery time, and that they get the best out of each session they should be aiming for at least 12 portions, but go as high as possible. The micronutrients in fruit and vegetables will make a massive difference the way you feel not only your athletic performance. You don’t need a scientific study to prove this either, why not try it for a month, increasing gradually each week, see how you feel? Ensure you still eat a balanced diet with healthy protein and fats but switch to getting your carbohydrates from fruit and vegetables.
You shouldn’t worry about the sugar in fruit, most might not be absorbed by the body due to the high fibre content it’s attached to. Don’t listen to anyone scaremongering you into eating less fruit. If you eat less fruit you might also lose weight but I’d put money in it being coincidence or general calorie deficit. Eating less fruit will make you less healthy!
You’ve probably just said to yourself that you’ll never get that much in per day so I thought I’d share how I do it, you’ll need a couple of kitchen appliances, you don’t have to go with expensive versions, there’s other on the market but get a Nutribullet & a soup maker (the former does a version of the latter now too!). I’ll have two large Nutriblasts per day each containing a mix of whatever I fancy or have to hand, there will be about 5 portions in each. I’ll also add about 5 portions to my soup maker in the evening and have that for dinner. It’s not boring as you can be creative with it. I almost always have a salad at lunch and will snack on fruit throughout the day. So I’ve already hit nearly 20 portions. I feel great for doing it and I know I’m a faster cyclist because of it, when will you give it a go?