Fermented by L A B

Is it achievable to eat 30 different plant species in a week, in order to nurture a healthy gut?

HealthAlana Holloway
 
Fruit and vegetables
 

Instagram can be a wonderful place, can’t it?!  One of my favourite people to follow is Dr Megan Rossi, aka @theguthealthdoctor.  She shares a wealth of ‘no bullsh*t’ gut health related information, demystifies studies and debunks media articles which I just LOVE to read!

One of her recent posts posed the question: is a vegan diet healthier for your gut than a non-vegan diet?  She often asks these questions as polls in stories.  I answered ‘no’ but was pretty sure the answer to this one wouldn’t be a straightforward ‘yes’ or ‘no’.  I was right! Whilst a vegan diet isn’t necessarily healthier for your gut (vegan doesn’t always mean healthy), a focus on plant-based foods is.   Your gut microbiome relies on a variety of foods to build a diverse community and in gut terms, diverse = strong and health and Dr Megan Rossi’s recommended weekly target is 30. That’s 30 different plant species throughout the week.   

 
The Gut Health Doctor
 

Is that achievable?* A combination of precious kitchen space, weekly - rather than daily - shops, bulk cooking/meal prep, busy schedules and small households means it’s all too easy to fall into a routine of eating the same (or very similar) foods, every day.  When you cook a big meal on a Sunday, the likelihood is that you’ll be eating that same meal for lunch/dinner for the next 2–3 days.  When you buy a bunch of bananas, at least one of your 2-3 daily pieces of fruit is going to be – you guessed it - a banana!  You get the gist, I’m sure.  So, I decided to record the plant foods I ate for a week, to see if I was anywhere near hitting the target.  Honestly, I wasn’t so sure that I was going to, for all of the reasons listed above. I, like many others, have been so busy thinking about what I eat in a day (am I getting my RDA of fruit and veggies, fibre, protein, etc?) that I really wasn’t paying too much attention to how that panned out as the week went on.  

Here’s how I got on (‘<’ means a very small amount of something):

Day 1
Buckwheat
Figs
Blackberries
Plum
Basmati rice
Courgette
Carrot
Mushrooms
Tomato
Spinach

Day 2
Plum
Blackberries
Buckwheat
Chia seeds
Hemp seeds
Almond
Coconut
Walnuts
Carrots
Courgettes

Day 3
Plum
Blackberries
Buckwheat
Coconut
Almond
Walnut
Chia seeds
Hemp
Carrot
Corn
Lentils
Chickpeas
Sweet potato
Red onion
Kale
Broccoli
Tomato
Avocado
Cabbage

Day 4
Buckwheat
Fig
Blackberries
Coconut
Cacao
Pecans
Kale
Red pepper
Cabbage
Tomato
Aubergine
Avocado
Chickpea
Sweet potato

Day 5
Oats
White rice noodles
Fresh coriander
Tofu (soy)
Beansprouts
Spring onion
Cacao

Day 6
Melon
Redcurrants
Blackcurrants
Tomato
Mushroom
Potato
Salad leaves
Sweet potato
Broccoli
Carrots
Raisins
Strawberry
Raspberry

Day 7
Tomato
Potato
Mushrooms
Sweet potato
Cacao

Wow, day 7 was a good day!!  Jokes aside, all in all, I ate 43 different plant species.  I was really careful not to fudge the results by doing anything different than my norm and am pleasantly surprised.  Looking back, what I think helped me achieve the target was making dishes where I could sneak in extra ingredients, such as the crumble I made at the beginning of the week (the topping alone contained 5 different plant species), or the savoury veggie pancakes I had towards the end (the fillings were very veg heavy).  I could’ve varied my grains/legumes a bit more, so will make a note of that for the future.  Over the winter, I’ll make sure to pack my stews and curries with veggies and grains and I’ll be interested to give it another go to see if the results are at all similar.  

If you fancy giving this a go, please share the results with me over on Instagram @fermentedbylab – let’s raise the awareness of this weekly target and all help each other achieve a more diverse gut microbiome!

*Megan does recommend just adding one extra plant food to your week if 30 seems unachievable.


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