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Telltale Signs You're Not Eating Enough Vegetables

Medical Daily logo Medical Daily 7/7/2020 Joshua Tresvalles

Vegetables may have been known for being bland, lacking flavor or being bitter-tasting (and undeservedly so) but these plant-based foods are loaded with all the things that your body needs to stay healthy throughout life.

Maggie Michalczyk, registered dietitian, told Eat This, Not That! that vegetables have so many benefits like being rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. These are all used by your body to function properly while preventing chronic diseases. The best part is that you do not need to eat that much veggies to get these benefits.

In addition to providing antioxidants, veggies are also important for another reason: They are among the best food sources of fiber, which helps support healthy digestion and also helps people feel satisfied after meals, according to Yasi Ansari, registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

To help you avoid long-term negative effects on your health and well-being, Michalczyk, Ansari and other registered dietitians have explained in detail 9 telltale signs that you are not eating enough veggies daily.

Low Mood 

Michalczyk said that vegetables are an important source of numerous vitamins and minerals needed for the body's critical functions. She added that not eating enough vegetables and focusing mainly on high-fat, high-carb or highly processed foods will result in getting a burst of energy followed by a crash, resulting in fatigue, memory loss and mood swings. "Swapping these high-fat foods for more nutrient-dense foods like vegetables will prevent you from feeling that crash. It will also give you sustained energy for a longer period of time. Similarly, the vitamins and minerals found in vegetables can play an important role in your mood regulation. Some studies suggest that there is a relationship between diet and mood and diets low in fruits and vegetables are associated with higher risk for depression."

Easily Feeling Hungry 

Ansari said that adequate fiber from veggies helps increase satiety, keeping you fuller for longer while helping sustain energy. She also added that by not eating enough vegetables, you may be craving another meal or snack shortly after the food that you just consumed.

Dull Skin 

According to Keri Gans, registered dietitian nutritionist, vegetables are loaded with antioxidants that can help protect your body from free radicals, which may damage skin texture. The author of "The Small Change Diet" added that many veggies like tomatoes are packed with water, which can be hydrating for the skin.

Susceptibility To Muscle Cramps

Charlotte Martin, a registered dietitian nutritionist, explained that muscles need enough potassium for smooth muscle contraction and that muscle cramps and twitches can happen due to extremely low blood levels of the mineral. The owner of the health and wellness blog Shaped by Charlotte said that fruits and vegetables are the best sources of potassium. The best vegetable sources of potassium include spinach, swiss chard and other dark leafy greens, in addition to sweet potatoes.

Constipation 

Ansari said that enough dietary fiber from vegetables helps in adding more bulk to waste and helps move waste more quickly through the intestines. She then advised drinking enough water while increasing your daily fiber intake.

High Stress 

Martin said that magnesium helps promote relaxation by maintaining healthy levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that calms both the body and mind. According to her, this mineral also plays a role in the body's stress response system and that deficiency of it is linked to higher stress and anxiety. "Veggies, especially dark leafy greens like spinach, are one of the best sources of magnesium. So, not getting enough veggies in your diet could certainly cause low blood levels of this mineral."

Feeling Fatigued 

Ansari said that one reason for fatigue can be because you are consuming too many highly processed foods such as those high in simple sugars and sodium, adding that consuming highly processed foods can put extra work on the body and cause drained energy and that foods high in simple sugars may cause spikes and drops in energy levels. She advised adding veggies to meals whenever you are feeling fatigued.

Impaired Vision 

Michalczyk said that the old saying of carrots being good for your eyes actually has some truth to it. She explained that they are rich in vitamin A, a deficiency of which can impair your vision and may manifest itself as night blindness or worse, in addition to causing dryness of the eyes, corneal ulcers and retinal damage, which causes blindness. Vitamin A is not just found in carrots; it is also present in yellow and orange-hued vegetables as well as dark leafy greens.

Weight Problems

Martin said that vegetables can provide a lot of volume for little calories and are also excellent sources of body-filling fiber. She explained that a produce-rich diet, especially non-starchy vegetables, is essential for those who want to lose or maintain weight. She noted that people who do not eat many vegetables are likely substituting those for higher fat and/or sugar foods, which are higher in calories and therefore can make weight loss difficult for them to achieve.

a close up of a flower © Photo courtesy of Pixabay


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