The importance of healthy and comprehensive nutrition

Today we eat mostly processed foods and variety is far from available. Why does our health react so badly to these changes and what can we do about it?

During our evolution, we ate a huge variety of fruits, root and tuber crops, nuts, vegetables and other plant foods. Thus, we lived for more than 100,000 generations, a time span during which our genome adapted to these foods. In the last two or three generations, we have been eating mostly highly processed foods that are poor in vitamins and minerals. In addition, variety has largely disappeared from our diet. Herein lies an important explanation for the increased burden of disease.

More than a hundred different species of plants

Research shows that a varied, mostly plant-based diet is beneficial to human health.

Humans in pre-historic times, as hunters and gatherers, were estimated to consume over one hundred different edible plant species on an annual basis. This provided a good and broad supply of nutrients and limited the intake of toxins (* poisons ) from one plant species, for example. Meat was also eaten but hunting was difficult and did not provide a livelihood. Contemporary hunter-gatherers, such as the Hadza of Tanzania, return home after hunting 50 percent of the time without success. A wide supply of plant foods provides much more livelihood security.

Contemporary offerings not being utilized

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), there are 250,000 edible plant species worldwide. However, due to modern agricultural methods, the world's population depends on only 150 species. Of these, only 12 species are consumed with any regularity. And of these, another 50 percent of consumption is taken up by three mega-crops: rice, wheat and corn. In the favorable case that a person in the Western world eats 20 different plant species, this is still only at most one-fifth of the 100 or more species that people used to eat.

Of the small number of plant species we now eat, we also eat far too little. The most recent poll dates from 2011 and shows that only 5 to 10 percent of adults meet the recommendation. As a result, large portions of our population are not getting enough fiber, vitamins and minerals. Much less often do you hear about our need for phytonutrients. These are precisely the ones we need if we want our diet to resemble our evolutionary diet again.

The importance of phytonutrients

What are phytonutrients?

Phytonutrients (*a group of chemical substances found in plants) are an important group of bioactive substances naturally found in plants and sometimes added in concentrated or artificial form to foods ) whose important physiological functions (*organ functions) are now being rapidly discovered. These are substances that we have been consuming evolutionarily (*development) for millions of years and are absolutely necessary for our health.

These include carotenoids, flavonoids and anthocyanins, substances responsible for nature's wealth of colors.

Also, the large group of polyphenols, (*a group of chemical compounds richly represented in various plants and herbs), contain health-promoting properties. They also contain enzymes that are present precisely in raw foods and young shoots of plants. Mushrooms also contain valuable compounds such as beta glucans. (*Betaglucans are complex fibers (Polysaccharides)from the cell wall of oats, barley and many medicinal mushrooms, such as Maitake and Shiitake)

Plants also contain"Polysaccharide multiple sugar" which is composed of several simple sugars.


Another category of nutrients that we don't get much of are the so-called adaptogens. This is the name for a group of herbs that help the body deal with stress naturally, both physically and psychologically. Well-known adaptogenic herbs are ginseng, rhodiola, ashwagandha and ginkgo. They help the body cope with extreme situations, contribute to endurance and accelerate recovery. For this reason, adaptogens are popular in the sports world. But actually, everyone in this stressful society benefits from them.

Avoiding industrially processed foods

Besides more variety, one of the most important things is to avoid industrially processed foods as much as possible. Besides sugars, salt and empty calories, this way you avoid artificial colors, aromas and flavors, preservatives and toxic coating materials that contain hormone disruptors, such as bisphenol A. Also, of course, it is important to eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables (*and not too many frozen ones), lots of oily fish, seeds and nuts. Moderate meat and dairy. By also eating less bread, insert moments when you can eat other healthy foods.

In our Western society, however, healthy eating alone is no longer enough. We are too estranged from our roots and are still too exposed to stress, toxins, GMOs, lack of exercise and sleep deprivation. Supplementation remains necessary. A multivitamin alone cannot supply all the important substances in sufficient quantities, but conversely, in our industrialized society, a healthy basic diet is still not possible without a good multi. Here the preference is for a multi that can also support a sufficiently high intake of phytonutrients.


  1. Procheş Şerban, John R. U. Wilson, Jana C. Vamosi and David M. Richardson, Plant Diversity in the Human Diet: Weak Phylogenetic Signal Indicates Breadth, BioScience, Volume 58, Issue 2, pp. 151-9.
  2. Stahl A.B., Hominid Dietary Selection Before Fire, Current Anthropology Vol. 25, No. 2, April 1984.