For a typical adult, it is recommended that you need to consume two cups of fruits and three servings of veggies. Why? Because vegetables and fruits supply your body with a host of vital nutrients that are beneficial such as all the minerals, vitamins, phytochemicals and fiber that your body needs to perform optimally.
A study found that only 1 in 10 adults actually consumed the recommended quantities of fruits and vegetables daily, which means that 9 in 10 adults are not getting the recommended amounts of nutrients which can result in deficiencies and poor health.
So how does a lack of fruits and vegetables affect the body? Here are a few ways your body is trying to tell you that you are running low on essential nutrients.
When you don’t eat enough veggies and fruits, you become more prone to digestive problems like hemorrhoids and constipation. This is because they contain cellulose, a compound that eases the passage of stool through your gut increases the weight of stool, and reduces the time it takes for the fruit to pass through your gut.
In addition, they are also rich in a type of indigestible carbohydrate known as fiber which is low in calories and both prevents and reduces constipation, stimulates the muscle of your gut so they maintain their strength, reduces the pressure on your bowel muscles and makes it less likely for the veins in your rectum to swell and cause hemorrhoids.
This means that a lack of fiber and cellulose in your diet would have the opposite effect, that is, you are then at risk of developing hemorrhoids and constipation.
INCREASED RISK OF CANCER
According to a cancer research institute in the US, there isn’t any food that can really protect you against cancer, however, you can reduce your risk of getting cancer by consuming a diet consisting of plant-based foods. This is because they are usually rich in antioxidants like carotenoids and vitamin C and E which serve as anticancer agents by protecting your healthy cells from being damaged by free radicals.
Carotenoids especially beta carotene are commonly found in dark leafy green vegetables, sweet potatoes, carrots, and deep orange fruits and have been associated with lowering the risk of cancer because of their protection against cellular damage. Plus eating too many fatty foods has been linked to cancer so replacing all that unhealthy stuff with a veggie and fruit-rich diet will reduce your chances of getting cancer.
As they are, veggies and fruits, especially those nonstarchy types that contain a high amount of water are the ones that have the greatest reservoir of nutrients while being the ones with the least amount of calories. They are usually called low energy-dense foods because their calorie content per gram is so much lesser than other types of foods which means that when you consume a lot of them, you still fill up much fewer calories than if you were eating, say, grains for example.
If you aren’t eating veggies and fruits, it means you are probably loading up on high fat, high-calorie foods instead. Diets containing high energy density foods – meaning more calories for each gram consumed – results in eating too much and subsequently gaining weight.
Here’s some interesting fact: the more veggies and fruits you consume, the less weight you end up gaining. Of course, this doesn’t count for starchy veggies like potatoes and corn.
With fruits and veggies, you can eat more and the fiber keeps you full and satisfied until your next meal and because of the fewer calories, you are less likely to gain weight. On the other hand, the absence of fruits and veggies means you’ll find yourself pigging out on the wrong kinds of food making it difficult to properly manage your weight.
HIGH RISK OF DIABETES
Since weight gain or being overweight is often linked to diabetes, your risk of diabetes increases with the consumption of processed and fatty foods instead of veggies and fruits. Studies have found that increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables such as leafy greens and berries could indirectly reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Also, if you are already diabetic, not eating veggies and fruits can actually make it worse. For someone that’s diabetic, eating carbs like rice, bread, processed foods or pasta could result in the person’s blood sugar soaring out of control. However, replacing these foods with low carb veggies like tomatoes, dark leafy greens, whole fruits, and eggplant can help to regulate blood sugar levels.
BLOOD PRESSURE LEVELS GO THROUGH THE ROOF
When you eat foods that are rich in sodium while not consuming adequate amounts of veggies and fruits will definitely push your blood pressure levels through the roof. This is why, you need to focus on increasing your servings of veggies and fruits because doing so can actually help to prevent high blood pressure if you don’t have it, and reduce high blood pressure in those that do have it.
How it works is that veggies and fruits are rich in beneficial nutrients like calcium, potassium, and magnesium while being low in sodium. This ensures that the sodium in your diet is reduced thereby keeping your blood pressure at healthy levels.
SAY HELLO TO HEART DISEASE
Partly because of their blood pressure reducing effects, consuming lots of veggies and fruits also reduces your risk of stroke and heart disease. A study conducted in Britain showed that the risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases reduced by 4% for each serving of veggies and fruits consumed by people suffering from them.
Besides veggies and fruits contain no cholesterol so substituting them in your diet also reduces your risk of having high cholesterol which further reduces your risk of heart disease.
If you want to know what constitutes a serving, for fruits and veggies like apples, bananas, and red peppers, one cup or medium piece it is.