It is well documented that plants have a healing effect on the body, but studies show that getting 30 plant based foods a week into your diet can provide a nutrient rich feast for your body, especially your gut, which houses a majority of your immune system. Since the immune system plays a role in endometriosis, it would make sense to eat real foods that are known to support it.
Let’s dive in!
The Gut, the Immune System and Endometriosis Connection
The gut plays an important role in the body for obvious reasons: this tube which begins with the mouth and ends with the anus is the place where food digests, where nutrients are assimilated into the bloodstream and where toxins exit the body (ideally). The gut also houses 80% of the immune system and what you eat can play a role in your immune system’s function.
Think you just have bad genes? Well, the immune system is highly variable to its environment even moreso than genes according to recent research.
In women with endometriosis, there is evidence that progression of endometriosis involves a poorly regulated immune system and creates a total body inflammatory disease.
Therefore, many conclude that taking a foods-as-medicine approach, such as eating 30 plant based foods a week, may help to support the immune system and improve negatively contributing factors in the microbiome (gut).
Top Benefits of Eating Plant-Based Foods with Endometriosis
Many women with endometriosis experience diet and digestion related issues. This can include:
- Food allergies
- Weight management issues
- Blood-sugar imbalances (dysregulation and insulin resistance)
- Mood changes
- Loss of life quality
- Direct and indirect costs associated
Since plant based foods usually contain fiber, water and nutrients, these types of foods can be very helpful with constipation and bloating for example. Eating 30 plant based foods a week can also help to crowd out foods that may exacerbate bloating such as sugar, processed foods and anything that is not a ‘real food.’ Ready to improve your digestion? Check out my post about improving your digestion or using bone broth to rebuild your gut’s lining. Ready to quit sugar? Check out my post about how to quit sugar or reduce its influence in your life.
I wrote a post about the benefits of following a MIND Diet, which is similar to a Mediterranean Diet. The well-researched MIND Diet helps one get loads of critical nutrients into the body that help the body and also cognitive processing. Eating 30 plant based foods a week is something that the MIND Diet, or the Mediterranean Diet, would not be opposed to.
Considering that many women with endometriosis also experience fatigue, brain fog, lack of motivation or apathy at times, and ongoing stress, eating a diet supportive of cognitive processing, balancing the blood sugars and helping the digestive system might be worth trying.
A plant based diet, and eating 30 plant based foods a week, may also help in pain reduction. I wrote a post about how certain nutrients have been studied and found to help reduce pain. Well, a lot of these nutrients are found in plants and nuts for example.
Finally, regardless of one having endometriosis or not, research (citizen science, an open source data platform) has found that people who consume at least 30 different plant based foods per week have more biodiversity in their gut, more beneficial bacteria and less antibiotic resistant bacteria (such as c dif). So, there are benefits for eating a diet rich in plant matter, and eating 30 plant based foods a week that go beyond disease remediation – it could be considered preventative to maintain one’s health.
These are just a few of the reasons to eat 30 plant based foods a week and keep your body as fortified as possible.
What Counts as a Plant?
So you may be wondering: what counts as my 30 plants a week? This is an important question. While fruits and vegetables seem to be the most important aspect, food such as nuts, seeds, legumes/beans and some grains were also considered to count as a part of the 30. The important part of the findings seems to be the concept of variety.
What are 30 plant-based foods?
Fruits: apples, bananas, oranges, kiwis, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, pomegranates, lemons, limes, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, grapes, starfruit, papaya, figs, plutes, nectarines, goji berries, lychee fruit, pineapple, mango, etc.
Vegetables: spinach, green and rainbow chard, arugula, mustard greens, lettuces, kale, tomatoes, corn, peppers, summer squash, butternut squash, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, carrots, peas, pumpkin, green beans, bamboo, water chestnuts, baby corns, sprouts, cabbages, onion, garlic, potatoes, beets, turnips, sweet potatoes, yams, eggplant, arrowroot, artichoke, amaranth, bok choi, cucumber, cress, mushrooms, nori, seaweed, fennel, leek, etc. Many of these vegetables come in multiple varieties.
Legumes: black beans, navy beans, pinto beans, red beans, adzuki beans, cannellini beans, white beans, kidney beans, fava bean, chickpeas, lima bean
Nuts: almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia, pine nuts, etc.
Seeds: chia, pumpkin, sunflower, flax, edamame, jackfruit, lotus, poppy, coriander, etc.
Spices: garlic, ginger, turmeric, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, dill, marjoram, coriander, cumin, paprika, basil, oregano, cinnamon, etc.
Plant leaves (tea): green tea, avena sativa (oat straw), chamomile, red raspberry leaf, nettle, echinacea, hibiscus, lemongrass, etc.
Considerations Regarding Phytonutrients
When thinking about your 30 plant based foods a week to consume, you may want to consider a plant’s phytonutrients in your decision making. Each plant and color of the plan provides a unique profile full of vitamins and minerals. Here is a short list with visuals that may help you keep track of what you want to buy.
Considerations Regarding Variety
The open source citizen science research that studied the benefits of eating 30 plant based foods a week mentioned that variety is key to improving gut health.
Proponents of this may also turn to the rainbow diet as inspiration for eating 30 plant based foods a week. A rainbow diet means one eats the colors of the rainbow, and it is an easy way to consciously hit all of your phytonutrient groups.
Plus, each color usually contains important good-for-your-body nutrients not found in other colors of plant based foods.
30 Plant Points – 13 Ways to Hit Your Goal
How to get 30 plant-based foods a week?
This is an important question as for most of us, getting 30 types of fruits, vegetables, nuts and some grains and legumes may be difficult especially if we follow the Standard American Diet (the SAD diet) which calls for a heavy abundance of grains, meats and dairy.
Here are some ideas for getting 30 plant based foods a week into your diet:
- Make morning breakfast smoothies. Breakfast smoothies are a way to get fruits, vegetables and nut butters into your meal all in one sitting. There are endless options.
- Juice. Juicing your vegetables may be helpful for some people to get their nutrients in throughout the day. It can be hard to get a full serving of carrots in, but it is pretty easy to consume a lot of carrot nutrients in carrot juice.
- Drink herbal teas.
- Don’t forget your fermented foods. Which are vegetables good for you gut.
- Stop snacking. Chances are, if you are snacking throughout the day, you aren’t snacking on fruits and vegetables, and you probably won’t be hungry enough to eat a plate full of vegetables when it’s meal time. Need some help? Learn about the art of meal spacing.
- Buy smaller quantities of a variety of vegetables at the Farmer’s Market. If budget is a concern, find fresh and local food and buy several different types of vegetables instead of 5 lbs of broccoli. (Of course, this depends upon the size of your family).
- Make stir fries or sheet pan dinners. These types of dinners are a great way to get a variety of plants into your diet in one go.
- Use spices. Spices count as a partial credit towards your 30 plant based foods a week, so you might as well use them in every meal. They will even make your vegetables and plants more palatable and delicious.
- Try new vegetables each week. If you are in a fruit and vegetable rut, consider going outside of your usual routine. If you can find plums, starfruit and papaya instead of the usual apples and bananas, consider mixing it up.
- Find an exotic cook book. Other cultures prepare food differently than what is typically found in the States. Consider finding an Indian, South Korean or Indonesian cookbook which will have loads of ways to cook a variety of vegetables you aren’t’ use to and you may really begin to crave.
- Find an ethnic grocery store. Ethnic grocery stores usually source fruits and vegetables that are found in their customer’s countries of origin, and that differ from what you usually eat. Find new fruits, vegetables and plant based foods this way may make it really easy to get 30 plant based foods a week into your diet.
- Consider buying and storing nuts and legumes long-term. If you have a variety of nuts and beans already in your pantry, it can be an easy way to include them into your weekly diet without too much thought.
- Make a weekly plan. Write out what you intend to buy and then write down easy item on a list as you eat it to help you remember that you actually ate 30 plant based food a week. Make it part of your Endo Challenge!
Hopefully this provides some “food for thought” in your meal planning and buying decisions. If you need help getting organized when going to the grocery store or Farmer’s market, be sure to check out these grocery store printables!
Thanks for stopping by!