How to get your gut-loving 30 plant points a week
We can be creatures of habit and it’s easy to get into a food rut – especially when we’re busy. But upping your plant diversity isn’t about making meals more complicated or expensive. I promise it’s way easier and cheaper than you might think!
You’ve probably heard how important our gut health is to our general health and happiness. Looking after your gut by eating plenty of fibre, and aiming to “eat the rainbow” can help to support a healthy immune system, get on top of gut issues, and more.
Veg is high in fibre, comes in a variety of colours and types, and keeps your gut happy!
My motto: enjoy 30 plant points a week for a diverse, balanced diet to nourish your gut health. Vegetables are an essential part of this.
Why the big 30?
The ‘5-a-day’ (or even '7-a-day') rule can be a good place to start – but it doesn’t take into account the trillions of microbes living in our gut. They all need different types of plant foods to flourish.
For good gut health, the goal is diversity. So where has the ‘magic 30’ come from? Fuelled by research that I’ve then tested out in clinic, one of the key studies demonstrated that people who eat at least 30 different plant-based foods a week had more diverse gut microbes than people who ate less than 10. It’s certainly not as black and white as a single number, but in clinic 30 has shown to be an effective target, hence my recommendation for you guys!
And the more diverse plant foods we feed our gut microbes, the more diverse they become and the more ‘skills’ they have to…
- Train our immune cells.
- Increase our resilience to infection.
- Strengthen our gut barrier.
- Communicate with our brain.
- Balance our blood sugar, lower blood fats and help prevent against many diseases.
What counts? All of your fruits, veg, wholegrains, legumes (beans and pulses), nuts and seeds, herbs and spices. 1 portion per point, with herbs and spices getting 1/4 point each.
Variety is key here and there’s no need to get caught up on portions at first - focus on diversity. By having small amounts throughout the week, chances are it’ll add up to enough portions overall.
Once you’re hitting your diversity goals, that’s when it can be time to start thinking about portions (a full portion is around 80g of veg per serve, or 50g for children, but I certainly don’t recommend weighing your meals - in most cases it’s roughly a handful (adult’s or child’s) which is easier to remember anyway!).
Here’s what 30 plant points can actually look like:
VEG – Tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, pepper, sweetcorn, spinach, potato, onion, peas, carrot, etc
FRUIT – Grapes, apricot, strawberries, watermelon, blueberries, raspberries, apple, banana, orange, kiwi, etc
GRAINS – Oats, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, wholewheat flour, etc
LEGUMES, NUTS & SEEDS – Chickpeas, lentils, tinned beans, pack of seeds, pack of nuts (mixed for extra points!), etc
Good gut health does NOT need to be time-consuming or costly (no expensive supplements here) – simple changes can make a big difference.
How many different plant points have you had this week?
By registered dietitian and nutritionist, Dr Megan Rossi (PhD, RD), also known The Gut Health Doctor