Fruits and vegetables. We grow them and we eat them. But why? The USDA says we should be consuming five or more servings per day. But what do they do for us — for our bodies? Why can’t we just forget about them and eat only hamburgers, brats, and bacon?
Allow me to state this as plainly and directly as possible. The reason why we eat fruits and vegetables is for the same reason why we eat most any kind of substance classified as food. Our bodies need specific elements in order to synthesize and renew the substances that act as building blocks for our bones, muscles, teeth, skin, hair, and vital organs. Without a constant supply of those essential elements, our bodies would eventually wither and die.
I’ll say it again. Without a constant re-stocking of the vital elements that come from the food we eat, we would die. Check out. Shuffle off this mortal coil. Purchase a one-way ticket on the graveyard express. Furthermore, this withering and dying will be slow, agonizing, and painful.
We eat meat, fish, eggs, and beans for protein. Our bodies break down this protein into amino acids, which our bodies then use to assemble muscles, tissues, hair, nails, skin, etc.
We also eat meat and fish, along with tree nuts, oilseeds, and dairy products for essential fats, which our bodies break down to fatty acids, then re-assemble into cell membranes and adipose tissue. It’s also essential as a source of stored energy, and as a mechanism for absorption for the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
And fruits and vegetable? What do they provide?
- First and most important, fruits and vegetables are a source of water, which is critical for essential biochemical functions too numerous to list here.
- Fruits and vegetables are a source of many of the vitamins and minerals which act as co-enzymes within our physiology. Without these co-enzymes, our bodies would not be able to function.
- Fruits and vegetables are sources of antioxidants which protect the body from cancer and other diseases and oxidant stress. They also boost the immune system to help our bodies fight off these diseases and stress should they gain a foothold and begin to propagate.
- Lastly, fruits and vegetables are sources of non-starch polysaccharides, which are a type of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. This dietary fiber absorbs excess water from the colon, which allows for smooth and easy passage of fecal matter from the body, and prevents the development of conditions like chronic constipation, hemorrhoids, colon cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, and rectal fissures.
And no, you cannot get all of this from pills! Pills may provide the vitamins and minerals that are present in fruits and vegetables. But fruits and vegetables also contain many other as yet undiscovered nutritive factors which cannot be found in pills.
To maximize the nutritional benefit that we get from fruits and vegetables, we should consume those that are as fresh as possible. And there is nothing fresher than fruits and vegetables that you grow in your very own garden. Plus, they taste a whole lot better too.
That, my friends, is what’s in it for us.
So keep growing and eating those crunchy, delicious, mouth-watering fruits and vegetables. Grow them as if your life depended on it. Because it does.