Diversifying your meals entails eating from a wide range of food groups. Depending on the classification, there are many food groups with a wide range of foods from which you can enjoy and nourish yourselves.
Why is it important to eat a diverse meal everyday as opposed to eating the same thing every day? Here are 6 reasons:
- Reduce the risk of nutritional deficiencies
When you eat diverse meals or variety of meals every day, you give your body access to many of the nutrients that it needs. Some of these nutrients are very vital for daily function and a deficiency can cause illnesses, poor growth and development and even death in some cases. For example, a deficiency in iron can lead to anaemia. Anaemia is a leading cause of death in women and children; it reduces immunity, causes intellectual developmental damage in children and reduces the productivity of a nation. Eating a wide range of meals that include iron rich foods can help you prevent this deficiency. Eating a diverse diet ensures adequate nutrition.
- Reduce your risk of chronic diseases
Research has shown us that there is a strong correlation between the increase in consumption of processed foods and rise in diet-related diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases and cancer. When your meals are diversified, you get access to other foods that can protect your body and improve your health. For instance, if your meals are usually high in sugar and simple carbs, your risk of having these chronic diseases are higher. However, if you include vegetables, fruits, starchy carbs, resistant carbs, you will find yourself healthier with a lower risk of these diseases.
- Develop a healthy gut microbiome
The gut microbiome is the collection of microorganisms in your gut. These microorganisms in our body can define our health. In fact, its said to be like a second brain. Some of these microorganisms are beneficial and some are harmful. The way you eat and your lifestyle can influence the type of microorganisms in your gut. Gut microbes have been linked to obesity, inflammatory diseases and even cancer. When you consume a diverse diet especially one rich in fibres you increase the number of beneficial microbes in your gut.
- Reduce oxidative stress
Oxidative stress is associated with the onset of many diseases. To combat oxidative stress through meals, it is recommended that you consume foods that are high in antioxidants and other phytochemicals. These antioxidants mop up free radicals that cause damage to our cells and body. You can find antioxidants in the vast array of fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, and other food products that are available in our world. To get ample supply of the different antioxidants, consuming a wide range of these foods will help.
- Support our local farmers
Farmers produce the foods we eat and to a large extent make a significant contribution to the kinds of meals we eat and even the quality of some of the foods that we eat. When farmers grow a variety of products and we support them, we get to eat more real food, less overly processed foods and we can all contribute to having a diverse food system in our communities and nation.
Bottom line: When you eat diverse meals or a variety of meals every day, you don’t have to worry much about specific minerals, vitamins, antioxidants except if you already have a problem with a deficiency (as in the case of women and female teens who need to pay particular attention to their iron status because anaemia is a common problem).
Take time out to look through the diversity meal plans on this blog for more elaborate examples of what you can eat and make a decision. One new meal a day or every other day is a start. You can also start by increasing the fruits and vegetables that you consume.
Don’t forget to eat better and live better.