Reaping the Rewards of Fresh Veggies
Three Reasons Why Your Diet Should Always Include Fresh Fruits & Vegetables
Too often, and for a myriad of reasons, we rely on processed foods full of man-made chemicals that deteriorate our health; so many diseases and cancers are a direct result of these processed meats, sugars and other cheap synthetic foods. It may seem like common knowledge, but our diet should always include a generous amount of fresh fruits and vegetables that should be primary, not secondary, to other types of foods.
The science behind diets and our bodies can be quite complicated, but one concept is becoming clear to most: foods that comes directly from the Earth are the most nutritional and protective.
Top 3 Reasons Why You Need Fruits and Vegetables
Increase Alkalinity and Stave off Disease
Remember the pH system used to measure the chlorine/acid levels of pools and whether or not they are safe to swim in? Our bodies work in much the same way. A diet heavy in acid-forming foods like meat, grains, dairy and processed foods leads to an array of potentially fatal ailments. By contrast, a diet heavy in fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts increases alkalinity which leads to a healthy functioning immune system.
Although some studies show that an alkaline diet cannot directly affect the pH level of our blood, it has a significant effect on the pH level of our urine and other bodily systems. In fact, the PKD (Polycystic Kidney Disease) Foundation recommends an alkaline diet to patients with chronic kidney disease (1).
According to Josh Axe, doctor of natural medicine and clinical nutritionist, “a 2012 review published in the Journal of Environmental Health found that balancing your body’s pH through an alkaline diet can be helpful in reducing morbidity and mortality from numerous chronic diseases and ailments — such as hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, vitamin D deficiency, and low bone density, just to name a few” (2).
More Fiber, More Fiber!
Most fruits and vegetables are great sources of dietary fiber. According to the Mayo Clinic, a high fiber diet has plenty of benefits (3):
Normalizes bowel movements. Dietary fiber increases the weight and size of your stool, decreasing your chance of constipation.
Helps maintain bowel health. A high-fiber diet may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids and small pouches in your colon (diverticular disease).
Lowers cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber found in beans, oats, flaxseed and oat bran may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering bad cholesterol levels. Studies also have shown that high-fiber foods may have other heart-health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure and inflammation.
Helps control blood sugar levels. In people with diabetes, fiber can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels. A healthy diet that includes fiber may also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Aids in achieving healthy weight. High-fiber foods tend to be more filling than low-fiber foods, so you're likely to eat less and stay satisfied longer. And high-fiber foods tend to take longer to eat and to be less "energy dense," which means they have fewer calories for the same volume of food.
Add Color, Flavor and Variety to Your Cooking
There are hundreds of edible and healthy plant-based foods available to us and Roots For Life can help connect you to these sources!
As a general rule-of-thumb, the more naturally colorful your plate, the more flavorful and nutritious! Here is a breakdown of nutrients and benefits by color according to The International Food Information Council (4):
Orange: Orange foods such as carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, squash, and cantaloupe, include a plant compound known as carotenoids. Carotenoids include beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A has many roles within the body: it helps support the function of white blood cells (which is important for a healthy immune system), promotes bone growth, and helps to regulate cell growth and division. Vitamin A and two other types of carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, are also important for healthy vision.
Also a carotenoid, lycopene is found in red foods such as tomatoes and tomato products, watermelon, and grapefruit. The main benefit of lycopene is the maintenance of prostate health.
Green: Dark green veggies such as bok choy, mesclun, turnip greens, kale, watercress broccoli, collard greens, romaine lettuce, and spinach are functional food component powerhouses! Included in the long list of nutrients found in these veggies are potassium, dietary fiber, folate, vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin C.
Red, Blue, Purple, Crimson, Brown: Berries, cherries, red grapes, red wine, dark chocolate, cocoa and some teas are good sources of antioxidants flavonoids. Antioxidants help remove toxins from your body while flavonoids contribute to the maintenance of proper brain function and blood flow.
Why Is this Important to Roots for Life
Having fresh produce is important to Roots for Life because the residents we serve in Washington, D.C. in Wards 4,5,7 and 8, are food insecure, meaning the are without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. This raises a question for us. how can we help people living in our communities, in our own backyards, connect to healthy fresh produce? Through educational programs and help from a corps of volunteers, Roots for Life is demonstrating how small incremental changes to incorporate fresh produce can make a dramatic difference in lives.
Support the movement!
You can help our movement by volunteering, collaborating and or donating! Every minute and cent helps.
Join Us At the Following Events!
Art of Healthy Food
What: Cooking Demonstration
When: Wednesday, September 26
Where: Congress Heights Plaza (3109 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave, SE, Washington D.C.)
Time: 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Markets and More - 14th & U Farmers Market
What: Cooking Demonstration
When: Saturday, September 29
Where: 14th & U Farmers Market (Reeves Center, at the corner of 14th and U Streets, NW, Washington D.C.)
Time: 11:00 a.m.
The PKD Foundation, The Alkaline Diet. https://pkdcure.org/blog/the-alkaline-diet/
Dr. Axe: Food Is Medicine, Alkaline Diet: The Key to Longevity and Fighting Chronic Disease?. https://draxe.com/alkaline-diet/
Mayo Clinic, Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983
International Food Information Council Foundation, Functional Foods and Their Colorful Components. https://www.foodinsight.org/Functional_Foods_and_Their_Colorful_Components