Variety not quantity

Another food-related blog, but this time it’s not so much about quality or quantity. There’s research to show that eating a wide variety of foodstuffs – at least seventeen different vegetables or fruits in a week – has a highly beneficial effect on our immune systems, and hence on our chances of running into trouble with auto-immune conditions and, of course, many types of cancer. If you’ve had cancer, eating a more varied diet can help to reduce the likelihood of recurrence.
From a herbal point of view, this makes absolute sense. Our ancestors evolved as omnivores, eating a huge variety of vegetable foods – all wild, of course – for which they foraged on a daily basis. All these different foodstuffs offer different challenges to your digestive system, keeping it on its toes, as it were; and they also give your immune system plenty to work on.
Nowadays, however, the range of foods we eat has shrunk right down, and we rely heavily on grains, both to feed ourselves and to feed our domesticated animals. From cows fed on concentrates to dogs and cats fed on dry pellets, we make them all eat grain; a very minor part of our ‘stone age’ diet, and not part of their natural repertoire at all. Herbs can help to replace the lost variety and bring back an element of ‘wildness’, but eating a wider range of vegetables is something we can all do, and it really helps.