Despite a high-profile campaign that launched in 2003 surrounding the importance of eating your ‘five-a-day’, the British public are still falling short of consuming this recommended daily allowance. A diet that lacks in sufficient fruit and vegetables is a diet that lacks in essential nutrients, and this can lead to significant health issues!
Poor diet related illnesses cost the NHS around £6 billion per year – this is more than alcohol, smoking and sedentary lifestyle related cases. Around 12% of the total number of deaths are due to diet-related ill health, and that’s about 70,000 premature deaths per year!
It’s been sixteen years since UK government launched the five-a-day campaign to mainstream consumers, yet data suggests that nutrient intake has continued to decline and the majority of people in the UK are not eating a healthy diet that delivers all the nutrients they need. In fact, only 31% of adults (19-64) and 8% of children aged 11-18 are getting their five-a-day.
According to a recent report published by the Health and Food Supplements Information Service (based on findings from the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey Rolling Programme and an annual Family Food survey by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), adults are significantly below the recommended daily intake of various nutrients including omega-3, magnesium and fibre (amongst others). Public Health England (PHE) already recommends that the entire UK population turn to food supplements such as vitamin D to help plug the gaps where daily diets are failing, so we decided to take a closer look at three of the nutrients that the UK are currently at risk of being deficient in.
As a result, Public Health England (PHE) now recommends that the entire UK population turn to food supplements that can help to plug the gaps where daily diets are failing.
The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition recommends that adults consume 140g of fish a week, but we are only consuming 56g. The main food source for omega-3 is oily fish but consumption of omega-3 has remained at an all-time low for over twenty years.
As well as the omega-3 acids eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA), oily fish provides you with high quality protein. DHA contributes to the maintenance of normal brain function, blood triglyceride levels and vision. Both DHA and EPA contribute to the normal function of the heart.
It’s recommended that healthy adults eat one portion of oily fish and one portion of regular fish a week in order to get these nutrients, but many people turn their noses up due to the strong flavours and poor media coverage relating to the sustainability of fish stocks and the risk of plastic consumption. It is for this reason that many health organisations are now recommending that adults take a daily omega-3 supplement containing at least 250-500mg of combined EPA and DHA.
Forever Arctic Sea is one omega-3 supplement that’s rich in both EPA and DHA, and thanks to its blend of natural fish and calamari oils, you can ensure you get natural goodness without the fishy flavours! Each serving equates to 1305mg of omega-3 fatty acids which means you’ll never need to worry about lacking in this nutrient again!
Magnesium is gained from eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables yet in recent years the British public’s magnesium intake has declined by 13% in adults (11% in females), but even more of a concern is that this decrease is recorded as having dropped by 38% in boys aged 11-18 and by 50% in girls.
Magnesium supports over 300 enzyme systems that regulate biochemical reactions in the body. It also contributes to electrolyte balance, to normal muscle and psychological function, to the maintenance of normal bones and teeth and to the normal function of the nervous system. In addition, it has a role in the process of cell division, and it helps to reduce fatigue. Magnesium helps to transport other nutrients, such as calcium and potassium, so a lack of magnesium could also affect your body’s supply of these other nutrients. Spinach, kale, bananas, avocado, edamame beans, chickpeas, broccoli and cabbage are all sources of magnesium.
Forever Supergreens is a powdered supplement that contains over twenty fruits and vegetables. Each sachet can be mixed with 240ml of water or fruit juice, which means it’s perfect for those who live busy lifestyles that demand convenience food. It’s high in magnesium, containing 125mg (about half your RDA), but it’s also high in vitamins C and E. You can learn more about its nutritional benefits here.
Fibre is another nutrient gained from fruit and vegetables and it’s recommended that adults consume 30g a day; on average, 19-64-year-olds are only consuming 19g a day.
90% of Brits are deficient in this complex carbohydrate, possibly because most of the nation choose white pasta and bread over wholegrain alternatives, but the five-a-day failure is also affecting the country’s fibre intake. Apples, bananas, oranges, raspberries and strawberries are all great choices if you want fibre-rich fruits, or you can choose broccoli, peas and artichokes for your veg.
A fibrous diet is important for digestive and gastrointestinal health so if you want to avoid awkward toilet trips, you probably want to make sure you’re getting the fibre you need. If like the majority of the nation your diet is deficient in fibre, try adding a supplement like Forever Fiber. Each powdered sachet gives you 5g of fibre when mixed with a glass of water or other beverage.
WHY ARE PEOPLE IGNORING FRUIT AND VEG?
People aren’t necessarily intentionally ignoring the national guidelines, but there are several trends that have emerged over the past two decades that could account for the dip.
Busy lifestyles often result in convenience food choices, takeaways or the skipping of meals. High cost, taste, irregular working hours and the inability to conveniently pick up fruit and veg when travelling are other reasons that are believed to hinder people’s nutritional choices. 55% of people admitted to having takeaways once or twice a week and less than 5% of people consume salad. 12% stated that they eat whatever they can grab on the go for convenience, but there was absolutely no mention of fruit in this instance!
It has also been identified that there is some confusion when it comes to consuming the correct portion size of fruit and vegetables. A survey commissioned by the National Charity Partnership polled 2,000 people and only 23% knew that the correct portion was a ‘handful’ of fruit or veg. Public Health England’s Eatwell Guide is extremely helpful when it comes to portion control and states that fruit and vegetables should make up 30-40% of your plate. When asked, 86% of survey responders were incorrect in their thinking relating to Eatwell’s guidelines.
HOW CAN YOU SAVE YOUR DIET?
If meal planning to ensure your diet includes a sufficient amount of nutrients each week is out of the question, supplementing your diet with vitamin and mineral supplements may be the answer your future health depends upon.
The UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey did not identify a single nutrient that did not have a significant demographic attached to it that’s falling short of the national recommendations. Food supplements can bridge the nutritional gaps, yet many people are still ignoring the advice. A recent survey commissioned by the Heath and Food Supplements Information Service revealed that 38% of 1,022 respondents fail to take any food supplements and less than one in five who do, take multivitamins. A report published by Mintel claims that one in three people take a vitamin and mineral supplement, and that women are more open to them than men; however, Mintel also determined that more than 25% of the population of people in Britain have never taken a vitamin and mineral supplement!
If you fear you are unable to consume the recommended daily intake of all the different nutrients, including your five portions of fruit and vegetables each day, you should definitely consider taking food supplements. Food supplements should not be used as a replacement for a varied balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle, but they are useful as an additional nutrient source. The National Diet and Nutrition Survey identified that supplement users tended to have a higher intake of essential nutrients and therefore they are less likely to be deficient in nutrients that can lead to health concerns.
A reliable multivitamin to consider is Forever Daily. Forever Daily is high in over twenty vitamins and minerals, including some of the nutrients that have suffered downturns in recent years (vitamin A, vitamin D, iron, iodine and selenium). Brits are often deficient in vitamin D since the main vitamin D source is the sun. As a result, PHE recommends that everyone over the age of one should take a food supplement that contains at least 10 micrograms of vitamin D, particularly in the autumn and winter months (although this month has also been a tad sun-deprived!).
Shop for supplements and plug your nutritional gaps today.