An array of colourful fruit and veg

Why Eating the Rainbow is Good for Your Gut

More and more often, you’ll hear the phrase 'eating a rainbow' in the context of encouraging a healthy diet. Which is all about getting a variety of fruits and vegetables into your daily meals and snacks. We asked our resident Dietitian Imogen Wolsey to dig into the science and share her tips.

For those of us who have picked up any form of wellness-related media in the last ten years, it’s nothing new to hear that fibre is important for our health - it feeds our gut bugs, regulates our blood sugar levels, and let’s not forget about keeping us regular.

But what’s the big deal about colours?

Well, it comes down to the natural compounds found in plants called ‘phyto-chemicals’, and more specifically ‘polyphenols’, which are responsible for the bright and vibrant appearance of seasonal produce. These compounds have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help to keep our bodies in top shape, as well as providing gut bacteria with their favourite fuel source and super-charging our microbiomes. Some examples of different polyphenols found in foods include orange coloured beta-carotene in sweet potatoes, red coloured lycopene in tomatoes and purple coloured anthocyanin found in berries.

We’ve come up with some top tips to help you pack in as many polyphenol-rich foods as possible and make the concept of eating the rainbow become your reality.

5 ways to eat the rainbow

1. Blend, blitz and mix 

Making smoothies, dips and soups is a great opportunity to chuck in all sorts of fruit and veg without having to think too much about it.

2. Don’t forget about frozen or canned options 

It’s not just fresh fruit and veggies that count towards your plant points! Frozen and canned options are packed full of nutrients, and having an emergency freezer supply can come in very handy for a last minute, no fuss midweek dinner.

3. Spice things up  

Herbs and spices can transform a meal and seriously boost nutritional value. Try adding some cinnamon or ginger to your morning bowl of porridge, or a sprinkle of turmeric or chilli onto your eggs.

4. Keep some fermented food in the fridge 

Not only is fermented food great for its microbial content but it also keeps very well in the fridge, and varieties such as kimchi will add a hit of strong, vibrant colour to take your meal to the next level.

5. Get the whole family involved 

Eating the rainbow can become a whole family activity by challenging kids to tick off as many colours as they can during the week. Creating a rainbow chart to put on the fridge and colour in, or just giving out in rainbow stickers every time a new, colourful food is tried can make healthy eating fun and engaging for all.  

Here are some delicious recipes to get you started

Cauliflower Traybake with Garlic Yoghurt by Ella Mills

Spring Lunch Bowl by Rhiannon Lambert

10 Plant Power Salad by Lizzie King

Chickpea Curry with Bulgur Wheat and Seeds by Rhiannon Lambert

Sticky Miso Tofu Bowl by Ella Mills