Just as diversity is important in the natural world it is also important to consider in eating for health and wellbeing. A diverse ecosystem that supports many species is in most cases a healthy one just as a diverse diet supports good health and wellbeing.
Why is a diverse diet so important?
Our bodies simply cannot produce all the nutrients we need to support a functioning and well-tuned body. Based on nutritional science there are about 50 essential vitamins, amino acids, minerals and fatty acids that our body cannot produce. We need to get these essential nutrients from the food we eat in order for our body to do what it does to keep us alive. There is no one single source of food that supplies all these essential nutrients therefore, we need to eat a diverse diet to support a healthy functioning body.
In fact humans evolved to eat a variety of foods – it’s in our DNA. Our bodies have been designed to consume a wide variety of foods according to four million years of evolution! In times when food supply was uncertain it was advantageous to be able to eat and digest a wide variety of foods to survive. It seems our ancestral hunter-gatherer lifestyle was actually healthier than the modern diet that relies on monocultures grown through agricultural production systems.
Finally, there is a body of research out there showing that a varied diet reduces your risk of health issues such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Adding a variety of whole grains, good fats (think avocado, nuts and oily fish), fruit and vegetables to your diet will help to improve your overall health and keep you fighting fit!
So how can you improve the diversity of your diet? Here are a few simple ways:
- Eat all the colours of the wholefoods rainbow (note the word wholefoods – this point does not refer to skittles or other highly refined and processed products!!!)
- Try a new wholefood each week (e.g. a different grain or vegetable/ fruit)
- Don’t cut out food groups such as carbohydrates or fats and do pay attention to the quality of the food sources – think roast potatoes not fried potato chips.