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16 Ways to Add More Diversity to Your Diet for Better Gut Health!

Did you know there are well over 20,000 edible plants found in the world, but only about 20 of these make up the foods we eat every day?

That's so crazy to think & unfortunate considering the enormous variety of fruits and vegetables, in every size, shape & colours.

From a health perspective, we want as many plant varieties in our diet as possible to get the full range of phytonutrients & to fed our gut microbiome.

Phytonutrients found in fruits and vegetables include carotenoids, flavonoids and polyphenols, these have multiple actions in the body including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects; immune support and they also act as prebiotics to support the Gut microbiome.

Plants of similar colours contain similar phytonutrients; choosing a variety of different colours provides a broad range of different phytonutrients with specific benefits to health, hence why ‘eating a rainbow’ is so important for our health.

Eating a variety of plants will not only feed a wider range of bacteria, but also give you a wider range of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. In one study, people who ate more than 30 different plant types per week had more diverse gut microbiomes than those who ate 10 or fewer types of plants per week.

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut with food choices, for example picking the same items in your weekly shop, eating the same breakfast and lunch every day or eating a very restricted diet & even intermittent fasting can impact our diet diversity & inturn our gut microbiome.

Whether you are excluding meat or specific types of plants and carbohydrates, you are selecting for and favoring bacteria that can utilize the available nutrients for survival.

Something I talk to my clients about all the time is that food is information for our cells and through our dietary choices, we are selecting ‘food’ foundations for some gut bacteria, providing them with competitive advantage over other gut bacteria, which can be a good or bad things depending on which bacteria we are feeding.

Achieving diversity in the diet is much easier than it sounds & our gut favourably to the added plant diversity & new dietary adaptations.

So with that in mind see the following 16 Tips that are simple & easy to do to add more diversity to your diet -

  • Challenge yourself to choose a new food you do not normally include into your weekly shopping from categories such as carbs, proteins, fats, fruits and vegetables

  • Opt for local & seasonal foods to minimize costs - the best way to do this is by going to local farmers markets.

  • Use the seasons - seasonal eating is easy to follow, better for the environment & you are eating foods that your body will benefit from during each season.

  • Make simple in swaps - such as occasionally having pears instead of apples or walnuts instead of almonds as your usual staples.

  • Add more variety to your current meals - instead of only strawberries in your breakfast, try mixed frozen berries, or instead of only almonds for snacks, add some other varieties of nuts & seeds like pecans and walnuts & sunflower seeds.

  • Add fresh herbs & spices to your dishes, this will not only enhance the flavour but also you'll get some pretty spectacular health benefits to boot.

  • Choose a different colour to theme the week - ie - orange week - buy vegetables & fruit in that orange only (pumpkin, squash, carrots, oranges) use spices that are orange (turmeric, ginger, galangal, orange chilli's)

  • Count colours and plants in your meals rather than counting calories

  • Explore different cultures and cuisines - ie - Asian dishes require a lot of vegetables that are not to common in the Aussie diet - eg - bitter melon.

  • Add canned legumes to salads, stews & meat dishes

  • Try a new recipe each week, make Sunday night your "new & special dish" night!

  • Try some wild game, it is not farmed so tends to be healthier and generally leaner. Organic organ meats are also a good choice and less costly.

  • Utilize both fresh and frozen produce - frozen is less expensive, has a much longer shelf-life and is just as nutritious as fresh!

  • Make it a fun game to see how many different plant varieties & colours you can get in throughout the day!

  • Opt for an organic vegetable and fruit box delivery – they deliver different fruits and vegetables each week, provide recipes and introduce you to a variety of produce that you may not have tried before

  • Create a meal plan with your different plant foods in mind - this will help you get through your list of new & colourful recipes.

Make it your goal to get 30-50 different plant varieties into your diet weekly for better gut microbiome diversity - which in turn will positively impact all areas of your health.

Ready to take your Gut Health to the next level? I recommend doing the Complete Gut Microbiome Mapping - it gives us an incredible insight into your unique gut microbiome & how they are playing out in your life.

Send me a email or message & let's get started on healing you gut.

In health & happiness

Sarah Emily Herbalist

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