This is the second part of the ‘Eat’ intervention as promised. Dr Chatterjee explains these interventions in his book ‘The 4 Pillar Plan‘ and as I have previously explained, this is a really brief view of the plan and you need to read or listen to the book yourself to get the best benefits to you, a link to the book is here).
This intervention is all about the ‘Five a Day’ that we are told to eat and how you can manage this healthily without filling up on high-sugar fruit and juices.
Dr Chatterjee recommends eating 5 different VEGETABLES a day, not fruits, just vegetables and ideally, these should be different colours.
This also doesn’t include fruit juices and smoothies, which are basically liquid sugar (remember what we learnt in Part 1 of the ‘Eat’ intervention, if you haven’t read it yet, you can find it here).
This isn’t because he is anti-fruit, but most people, when given a choice, will go straight to eating a high-sugar fruit, such as a punnet of strawberries or a nice juicy peach rather than a plate with asparagus or red peppers.
It’s about re-tuning your palette, again, trying to come away from sugar whilst still getting the benefits of vegetables. But why the different colours?
One reason is because it is good for our ‘Gut Bugs’, those things that help us digest our food in the best possible way, keeping all the goodness and removing all the waste. These are also collectively known as our ‘microbiome’ and it is important that our microbiome is healthy, so making sure that all the trillions of bugs in our gut are happy is vitally important.
There is more and more information coming out about good and bad bugs every day from the scientific world, some of it can be confusing. It seems to be that an ideal microbiome is a diverse one where the bugs ‘job share’ and we look after them all as a whole. This may change, but as more information becomes available, knowing how to look after our gut seems to be the most important thing we can do to help our health.
For instance, did you know that one species of gut bugs make serotonin, the chemical linked to our moods, whilst others manufacture vitamins. As Dr. Chatterjee puts it, the gut bugs in your stomach are your staff, working away for you to produce what you need to survive. There are different specialists working in different ways to maintain optimum health and with no one area over or under staffed.
However, food additives, high stress levels and other modern day conveniences are messing up our staff, giving too many in one area and not enough in another, with some areas completely shut down and depleted. This in turn is totally messing up our systems and causing chronic, degenerative diseases and allergies. We are gradually shutting down our defence mechanisms and we don’t even know it!
We can fix this as our gut bugs LOVE plant based fibre (also known as prebiotic fibre). Broccoli is a brilliant example of this. When you digest broccoli, it ends up in your colon where the vast majority of gut bugs live. They feast on it, causing by-products such as short-chain fatty acids, which are natural anti-inflammatories and can help prevent things like strokes, heart disease and alzheimer’s.
Building up your immune system
The body is so interconnected in so many ways, so obviously it makes sense that building up the microbiome helps build up the immune system. This is because 70% of our immune system happens around our gut, just think, everything you put into your mouth is a foreign body, makes perfect sense!
Specialist cells in and around the gut lining use microscopic antenna to sample and check all our food and our immune system makes a decision on what to do on this. It can become oversensitive with all the additives and other trigger foods which can cause inflammation, bloating, rashes and other uncomfortable symptoms.
Think of your immune system as your own army, fighting invaders and helping it’s own troops. If you feed your army correctly, they will be controlled, treat them rough and they will be unruly and cause your problems.
Foods for your gut bugs.
Complex fibres (also known as microbiota accessible carbohydrates – or MAC’s) are found in abundance in vegetables. They are carbohydrates that feed our gut bugs. They also help us generate short chain fatty acids as explained above.
Akkermansia Muciniphila – This is one of the best known good gut bugs and helps with obesity, diabetes, inflammation, and much more. The gut has a protective lining of mucus that Akkermansia feeds on, but it also loves to eat onions, garlic, leeks, artichokes, yams, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, broccoli & bananas. By eating these foods helps you increase its numbers which helps you overcome the above conditions. Fasting also helps increase Akkermansia numbers, but more on that later.
Eating the Rainbow
If you start eating differently, your microbiome will begin to change within 2-3 days. Eating 5 different vegetables a day will greatly increase your chances of this, but by making them 5 different coloured vegetables will increase it even more!
The more colours you eat, the more the variety you get of phytonutrients. As much as people don’t like to eat vegetables, vegetables in return don’t like to be eaten! They produce phytonutrients as a defence that, when eaten by us, help our health.
There are thousands of Phytonutrients and we are only just learning about the wonders and benefits of them. Two you may have heard of are polyphenols (found in olives) which are thought to improve or help treat digestion issues, weight management difficulties, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, and cardiovascular diseases, and glucosinolates which are sulfur-containing compounds found in cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, etc.) Besides being packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, glucosinolate foods offer benefits that may extend well into the prevention of serious illnesses including cancer.
Different coloured foods contain different phytonutrients. Red foods, such as tomatoes, contain lycopene, which is argued to reduce the risk of some types of cancer and heart disease. Orange foods, such as carrots, contain beta-carotene, which benefits our immune system and promotes healthy vision.
I won’t explain all the benefits of all the foods here, as this is a brief description and the book gives a much more detailed and informative explanation of the different types of foods and what benefits you will get from each. One thing Dr. Chatterjee does give you free on his website is his Rainbow Chart of vegetables. This is great if you have kids as they can tick off each colour each day, but it’s also good for adults as, who doesn’t like a tick sheet? 😉
I now have this rainbow chart on my fridge and, although I only get to about 3 items a day, I’m at least making sure I get that and I’m working on it – what about you?
My next post will be about the 3rd intervention, which is much shorter you will be pleased to know, and that is daily micro-fasts.
Until then, enjoy your veggies 🙂