The Importance Of Fruit In The Diet - And Why Growing Your Own Is Best
By: Anne Fellowes
Perhaps due to the media exposure of the effects of junk food and an unhealthy diet, we're becoming more and more nutritionally aware. Everybody now knows that a healthy diet needs plenty of fruit and veg, and that we shouldn't stop off for takeaway too often! However, people might not be fully aware of just how great for you fruit can be. It's also worth noting that there are plentiful advantages to be gained from growing your own fruit, which you wouldn't get from store-bought stuff. Read on to find out more.
Fruit Enhances Athletic Performance
When we think of athletes, our minds tend to leap to muscle and energy. Muscle requires protein, and energy requires carbohydrates, so we might be forgiven for assuming that an athlete's diet needs to contain plenty of meat. As it happens, however, a lot of athletes eschew meat altogether and live a completely vegan lifestyle. Nor does it appear to hamper their performance - indeed, several prominent Olympic gold medalists are vegan or vegetarian. How do they manage this? By eating plenty of fruit. Fruit is rich in the kinds of vitamins which the body needs to run at its peak. While protein may build muscle, you really don't need much of it. It's far more important to ensure that all your other bodily systems (particularly the immune and digestive systems) are in top condition, and the best way to do this is to eat plenty of fruit. Athletes who consume a good mix of fruit are generally healthier, have stronger hearts, catch fewer infections, and experience enhanced performance in comparison with those who eat less fruit. What is more, the sugars in fruits like bananas provide a slow release of energy which will fuel any athlete for far longer than snacks containing refined sugars. If you want to be at the top of your game, athletically speaking, then swap the chips for a fruit salad.
Fruit Is What We're Designed To Eat
Human evolution is a complicated affair dating back many millenia. However, we can tell a lot about the diets which we evolved on through the way our bodies react to certain foodstuffs. Our teeth certainly indicate that we took to utilising the nutritional qualities of meat at some point during our evolutionary journey, but it seems that meat has never been eaten in the quantities in which we consume it today. Instead, our earliest ancestors filled most of their dietary needs with nuts, fruits, and vegetables - with meat as a supplementary treat. An interesting genetic mutation proves this rather neatly. Humans cannot produce their own Vitamin C. Almost every other mammal can - even other primates. Vitamin C is utterly essential to life. As sailors found out in the age of exploration, not consuming enough Vitamin C leads to the breakdown of cells and bodily functions in what is known as 'Scurvy'. Given that this Vitamin is so important, how on earth did this mutation manage to become so successful that it ultimately became the human norm? Well, it's thought that our ancestors simply did not notice that they had an inbuilt problem with Vitamin C, as they were eating so much Vitamin C-rich fruit that it was never an issue for them - until urbanisation and exploration forced people into fruit-deficient situations, by which time it was too late. Given the large part that fruit clearly played in our evolutionary history, it's perhaps unsurprising that our bodies respond so resoundingly well to it!
Growing Your Own Fruit Is Good For Body And Soul
Growing your own fruit is one of the best ways in which to get your nutritional fix. Not only are you feeding your body plenty of health-giving vitamins, you're also boosting your soul into the bargain. There are many, many health benefits to growing your own food - not least of which is the improvement it brings to your mental health. Gardening, or even just having fruit-bearing trees around and plucking fruit from them every now and again, has been proven to be an effective protection against depression, to lower stress levels, and to generally induce a more positive outlook on life. And if you do decide to really go for the gardening thing, all that digging and pruning is a fantastic workout! All in all, growing your own fruit provides all round goodness at every point in the process!