A fixed or limited diet may increase your risk of deficiencies in certain vital nutrients or even an excess. It may also lead to food sensitivity making you eat more of the same food to get the desired benefits. A varied diet improves diversity of gut flora making nutrient absorption better. Adding variety in infant foods reduces risk of common food allergies in future.
Ever noticed why a dietitian recommends a variety of foods in your diet chart, rather than repeating the same items over and over again?
A lot of our food picks are dependent on our hunger and cravings. But, the secret to good health is not in eating the same stuff, however healthy. Let’s find out how a variety in foods can actually be good on your taste buds and your overall health.
Eating the same type of food everyday is not a major deter; but nonetheless it is unhealthy in totality because of the depleted intake of nutrients. Dr. Susan Roberts, Director of the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at Tufts University mentions, “More food variety universally leads to more nutrient intake”.
A fixed or limited diet may increase your risk of deficiencies in certain vital nutrients.1 Most healthy foods have an abundance of nutrients but no single food contains ALL necessary nutrients like healthy fats, proteins and vitamins. Eating a larger variety of healthy foods gives you more access to a variety of nutrients in several combinations that could benefit your health. An alternating assorted diet is you best way to avoid nutrient excess as well.
This is one the main reasons why you must opt for variety. Eating the same food every day can lead to food sensitivity in the body and mind.
Let’s look at excess sugar and salt intake for example. Your body gets used to the levels of the nutrient you provide it and reacts differently every time you consume that nutrient. When you have excess sugar everyday, your body may not accept anything less than what it used to get! When you consume excessive sugar, a massive amount of dopamine is released into the brain. When you do this too often, the dopamine receptor down-regulates causing us to consume more for the same level of satisfaction. So effectively you eat more to get the same health or mental benefits which is detrimental in the long run.
In effect the body is not challenged enough to handle different foods and the lack of variety doesn’t provide the necessary mental stimulation when you have varied diet options.
Expanding your dietary repertoire can be highly beneficial for the gut. The intestinal microflora is an integral part of the immune system and all kinds of microbes contribute to its functioning.
Our gut contains diverse flora to handle a variety of food and similar food types only activate and engage a specific family of bacteria. A diverse flora means increased absorption and assimilation of nutrients from food.2
Food allergies can be triggered due to a multitude of factors and most of these are unclear to researchers. But studies have shown that introducing infants early (within 4-6 months) to common allergy causing foods, decreases their risk of developing allergies to these foods in later life.3 Most of this has to do with developing and nurturing the right gut bacteria that programs the body to adapt to varied foods, without causing adverse allergic reactions.
Nature has provided us with an abundance of food varieties to not just nourish holistically but also to challenge and satiate the brain, keeping cravings and boredom away. After all, variety is the spice of life!
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Eating Well As You Get Older, National Institute of Health|
|2.||↑||Diet and Gut Microbiota, Gut Microbiota Worldwatch|
|3.||↑||Leo S, Dean J, Chan ES. What are the beliefs of pediatricians and dietitians regarding complementary food introduction to prevent allergy? Allergy Asthma Clin Immunol. 2012;8:3|