The Undernourished Majority: Is the 5 a Day Recommendation Passing You By?

239557330_ebf6a50300_m.jpgHere in the UK, the Health Food Manufacturer's Association has been looking into how we're doing when it comes to eating the government recommended 5 portions of fresh fruit and vegetables a day. After surveying over 3,000 people they found that over 80% were not following the guidelines and were not eating enough fresh fruits and vegetables.

This undernourished lifestyle is big business for the health supplements industry who are finding that millions of adults prefer to supplement their health with vitamin pills rather than eat a balanced diet high in fresh foods.

HFMA nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville has commented that: "With only 15 per cent of women and 13 per cent of men eating the recommended five-a-day fruit and vegetables, it is important that people are trying to keep themselves in good health by using supplements on a daily basis."

I disagree. Ayurveda (the ancient Indian system of health) advises that if we want to stay healthy and posses energy then we should eat that which naturally contains vital energy - or prana. That vital bio-energy is not as readily present in pills and powders as it is in fresh fruit and vegetables eaten as God and nature intended.

If people are lacking fresh foods in their diet, the answer is to find ways of introducing more, ways that are convenient and palatable. When your body is given fruit juices or lightly cooked vegetables it knows instantly what to do with them to benefit you, to keep you strong and give you energy. Swallowing a multi-vitamin tablet with a quick mouthful of water is not the same.

Salad head Photo by: ·Theresa·

How Do You Know if You're Getting Your 5 a Day?

One surprising find from the HFMA survey is that many people don't know what the guidelines actually mean. Health campaigns and supermarkets remind us to eat 5 portions of fresh fruit and vegetables a day but they don't tell us what a "portion" is.

A Quick Guide to Portions
One portion weighs about 100g and is about the size of a tennis ball.

Fresh Fruit: One portion = 1 apple, banana, orange or pear, or half a large grapefruit. If the fruit is small, like plums, satsumas and kiwi fruits, then 2 whole fruits counts as one portion.

Fruit juices: 1 glass (approx. 150ml) of 100% fruit juice or fruit smoothie.

Vegetables: One portion = a medium bowl of mixed salad. 3 heaped tablespoons of cooked vegetables like peas, carrots or sweetcorn. 4 heaped tablespoons of greens, kale, or green beans. 1 medium tomato, or 7 cherry tomatoes. 2 broccoli spears or 8 cauliflower florets.

You can find more info on portions on the NHS 5 a Day Website


Why Should You Care? For Your Health & Your Heart

A couple of years ago, when I was writing a feature on Breast Cancer for LifeScape Magazine, the Health Editor sent me pages of info from a leading cancer research organization on the links between diet and cancer. The information repeatedly confirmed that we can reduce our risk of developing cancer if we eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Some organisations claim that our lifestyle can have an impact of up to 30% on the likelihood of developing common cancers. Considering the fear the very mention of cancer strikes into the hearts of most people, it's good to know that there is plenty we can do to protect ourselves simply by cutting back on eating meat and processed foods and increasing the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables we eat.

The best anti-cancer fresh vegetables include: cruciferous veg and dark leafy greens, tomatoes and citrus fruits.

Experts also suggest that eating fresh fruits and vegetables can help protect you against heart disease and strokes too.

Two Quick and Easy Ways to Upgrade Your 5 a Day



If you haven’t got a juicer and haven’t tried making your own juice at home, here’s a word of warning. Juicing is highly addictive and can cause intense cravings. As I write this article I’m becoming aware that it’s time for my 11 o’clock energy boost: freshly juiced apple, carrot and ginger. Delicious.

If you’re inclined to acquire a juicer and make your own fresh juice, be sure to do a little research and get one that is good enough to get used and not end up at the back of a cupboard because it wasn’t up to the task.

Three things to look for in a juicer:

1. Efficiency. Not all juicers are created equal. It’s disheartening to empty your fruit bowl for half a cup of juice, look for a juicer that can extract maximum juice from fruits and vegetables.

2. Power. Look at the motor size - bigger the better, especially when it comes to juicing hard fruits like apples and pears.

3. Easy to Clean. This is very important. Juicing becomes a chore if you have to disassemble something complex and wash lots of fiddly little bits every time you want to make fresh juice.

471300085_0fb942a10f_m.jpgQuick and Easy High Anti-oxidant Juice Recipe

Here’s a favourite morning juice recipe of mine. Juice two apples, two pears and a handful of fresh blueberries. With a good juicer this will produce one large glass of delicious juice.


Pear Photo by: Franie Frou Frou


Quick and easy to prepare, filling and super nourishing to your body, smoothies are a great way to upgrade your diet. All you need to make smoothies is a basic blender and some fresh fruit.

Here’s a great recipe for a high energy breakfast smoothie that you can make in under 2 minutes.

The High Energy Breakfast Smoothie

1 ripe banana
6 pitted dates
A small handful of raisins
Quarter of a cup of oats, bran flakes, or muesli
250ml soya milk (according to Ayurveda cow’s milk does not mix well with bananas)

Peel the banana, break it in half and put it in the blender, then add all the other dry ingredients, pour in 250ml of soya milk. Put the blender lid on and blend for a minute. If you have a pulse setting that will help chop the dates and raisins down to finer pieces. Pour and serve. If you find the smoothie too thick you can stir in a little extra soya milk.

You can also add a pinch of cinnamon to the mix before blending for a slightly warmer taste and to assist in digestion.


Banana Photo by: Darwin Bell

Gen. health...Ananga