I still have memories of a time long ago of my mom and dad trying to force me to eat broccoli. I was five years old at the time and extremely stubborn.
I can still vividly see myself sitting at the kitchen table in the small house next to our farm where I grew up. I can remember staring at the cauliflower in the bowl before me wondering how something could possibly taste that bad.
Luckily for my health I eventually wizened up and after a while I even began to like eating my fruit and veggies (once they were covered in an appropriate quantity of butter of course).
Now as an adult who eats a borderline Paleo diet vegetables and fruit together now constitute about half of the food on my plate for many meals.
Below I want to talk about a few of the reasons why this can be so good for your body.
They’re packed full of essential vitamins and minerals your body needs to be healthy
I think everyone on Earth already knows this one but it doesn’t hurt to bring it up again.
Human beings are omnivores and though there are a small percentage of us who go without eating meat you will be hard pressed to find a group that is completely carnivorous.
There are, of course, the Inuit and you can find some fascinating articles about their diet. It is truly possible to live off of meat only but you must eat it in a very specific manner which would be difficult for many to do.
It requires a large amount of organ meat as well as consuming almost everything as close to raw as possible in order to preserve all of the nutrients present. You can read more about how the Inuit eat in the article here entitled The Inuit Paradox.
As for the rest of us fruits and vegetables provide the easiest and most plentiful source of micronutrients possible.
Everything from vitamin A for our eyes, to B vitamins for, well, just about everything, to folic acid for young babies’ developing brains, to iron for our blood.
Replacing some of the starchier carbohydrates on our plates, such as rice and bread, with vegetables and fruits is an easy way to dramatically increase our intake of these essential nutrients.
The high fiber content helps you control your weight
Fruit and vegetables are high in fiber; carbohydrates that your body cannot break down into energy.
This means that a large quantity of what you’re putting into your stomach when eating a healthy portion of vegetables has no calories.
Therefore your stomach fills up and signals your brain to stop being hungry when you have a smaller net intake of calories than if you’d eaten a plate of pasta instead.
In fact, if you’re trying to cut back on the amount of calories you’re taking in then eating more vegetables, and even fruits, is about the most painless and easy way to do it.
Another important way that fiber helps you control your weight is by lowering the GI of the foods you’re eating. This means that it keeps your blood sugar lower.
You see, the water soluble fiber present in fruits and vegetables forms a kind of gel along the wall of your intestines that slows the absorption of the carbohydrates (sugars) in your food through the walls of the intestine.
This in turn keeps your blood sugar from spiking and keeps your body from having to overcompensate by flooding your veins with large quantities of insulin to process all of that glucose.
By keeping your insulin levels lower you are making it easier for your body to be able to burn fat as fuel.
You see, your body loves carbohydrates because it’s an incredibly powerful source of energy! In fact it loves it so much that when your blood sugar goes up your body will completely stop all other forms of energy use in favor of using the glucose in your bloodstream first.
This means that when you spike your blood sugar you are completely shutting down your bodies’ ability to burn fat as fuel for the duration it takes for your blood sugar to go back down again.
So, to summarize the above, eating high fiber foods such as fruits and vegetables helps to keep your blood sugar more stable which in turn makes it easier for you to burn fat as fuel and maintain a healthy weight.
They contain large quantities of fermentable fiber
Fermentable and non-fermentable fiber is an often overlooked way of looking at the properties of fiber but is in fact very important.
Fermentable fibers cannot be broken down directly by our bodies own digestive system but it can be digested by our friendly bacteria that inhabit our guts.
In fact, eating a healthy quantity of fermentable fiber is one of the best ways you can ensure a healthy and balanced biome of probiotics is inhabiting your gut.
Fermentable fiber not only keeps your gut healthy by feeding the good bacteria, though. The waste products produced by these bacteria also go on to feed your own cells residing further down in your colon.
When these friendly bacteria chow down on these fibers they break them down into a certain kind of fatty acid that then proceeds to pass further on down through your intestines until it reaches your colon where it then becomes food for many of the cells lining the walls there.
So as you can see, eating more fruits and vegetables is one of the easiest ways to get more essential vitamins and minerals, maintain a healthy weight, and to keep a healthy and happy gut.
The next time you’re eating out and you have to choose between an appetizer of garlic bread or a salad go for the salad and just imagine your stomach smiling contentedly back up at you!