Tom Sokolowski |
BANT (The British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy) have released some generalised food advice that is far more up to date than the antiquated government Eatwell Plate.
This chart makes the recommendation to eat vegetables and a small amount of fruit from each of the colour groups – not quite corresponding to a rainbow.
The pigments that give vegetables and fruit their colours are the naturally occurring antioxidants that help keep us healthy.
Toxins from the environment, diet and from our own internally generated toxins result in free radicals accumulating in our tissues.
A free radical is a molecule, atom or ion that is highly reactive due to a ‘lonely’ extra electron. The electron has a negative charge and the free radical is just dying to grab tight hold of a positive charge and dump its negative charge onto another molecule in your tissue. Because it is so desperate it reacts violently and a cascade of violence begins as the negatively charged electron is passed from one molecule to the next, damaging your tissues in a cascade reaction as it does so.
This is where antioxidants come to the rescue. They are capable of negating the negative charge by accepting the unwanted electron without getting damaged themselves, much like a saint, buddha or an aikido master might be capable of peacefully disarming a troublemaker.
Different types of antioxidant work together in specialised ways to protect you and the different colours of vegetables and fruit correspond to different classes of antioxidants. Hence the advice to eat from each colour every day.
Even the very process of energy production in your cells produces free radicals. If we don’t have enough antioxidants the mitochondria that produce most of our energy become damaged and shut down and fatigue results.
To support your great health eat upward of seven portions of vegetables and fruit per day, limiting the fruit to 1-2 portions a day.
Some of us have a genetic predisposition to require even larger quantities of plant antioxidants to protect us from the toxins of the modern world and may need to eat in the order of a kilogram of non-starchy plant matter per day! Could juicing be the answer?
This is where a juicer can come in handy, but please enjoy sweet fruit in its whole form so that the sugars release slowly into your bloodstream.
A recent study has shown that 80% of the antioxidants in purple carrots are bound to the fibre in the carrot. Bacteria in your colon will then break down the fibre which releases the antioxidants and protects your colon from cancer. (It is already known that bacteria in your colon produce short-chain fatty acids from fibre which also protects you from cancer).
So eating the whole carrot rather than juicing benefits your colon.
I still maintain that if your genetics mean that in today’s world you need an extra antioxidant punch then juicing can help you get that extra since all parts of the body need protection, not just the colon, which happens to be the focus of this study.
However I would advise to eat from all of the colours (see previous post) in solid form every day, and see the juicing as extra full-body protection if you are one of those people who need it. I do not advise juicing sweet fruit nor making a vegetable as sweet as carrot central to your juice unless you have it with a protein meal with no other source of carbohydrate. This prevents too fast a release of sugars into your bloodstream and the resulting hormone imbalances, fatigue and weight gain.
Juicing is also very helpful for those with digestive conditions that are sensitive to fibre as part of a therapeutic (and hopefully short-term) diet.
The colourful phytochemicals found in vegetables and fruit also turn on anti-inflammatory genes and turn off inflammatory genes reaching deep within the nuclei of your cells to protect you.
Thus good antioxidant status is vital in order to enjoy abundant mental and physical energy, to burn energy for weight loss and reduce fat-building inflammation, to slow down the ageing process and to help avoid almost every disease you can think of from cardiovascular disease and cancer to depression and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.