Your diet has a direct impact on how well your body functions. What you eat helps provide the nutrients that your body cannot manufacture on its own or those it does not store. Vegetables supply essential nutrients that affect a major portion of life processes from the most basic like metabolism to more sophisticated functions such as oxygen transport or breakdown of specific types of nutrients. The “Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010” recommends that you eat 2 1/2 cups of vegetables daily.
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You may suffer gastrointestinal distress first from lack of fiber due to low vegetable intake. Vegetables provide roughage necessary for healthy digestion. A lack of vegetables may result in either constipation or diarrhea, leaving you feeling uncomfortable and unwilling to eat. Vegetables also provide nutrients necessary for metabolism of the foods you eat. The lack of vegetables in your diet can lead to a host of symptoms that may worsen your indigestion.
Green, leafy vegetables like Swiss chard and kale provide healthy doses of vitamin K. This nutrient is essential for proper blood clotting, bone mineralization and cell growth. A deficiency may result in abnormal bleeding due to a reduction in the clotting factors that vitamin K helps produce. Symptoms may include heavy menstrual bleeding, gums bleeding and easy bruising. The body does produce some vitamin K on its own in the intestines, but dietary intake is necessary to ensure that you have adequate amounts.
A diet deficient in vegetables may lead to scurvy. While you may associate vitamin C with fruits, vegetables also provide rich sources. Just 1/2 cup serving of sweet red pepper provides more vitamin C than a 6 oz. glass of orange juice. Symptoms of scurvy can lead to joint pain and weakness. The reason behind these effects lies in the role vitamin C plays in the development of connective tissue and bone. Since vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, you need to consume adequate amounts daily for good health because the body doesn't store it nor manufacture it.
Your avoidance of vegetables may also lead to a folic acid deficiency. Symptoms are not noticeable for several months of inadequate intake, resulting in a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia. This condition will result in enlarged red blood cells because of folic acid's role in red blood cell formation. A person with megaloblastic anemia may suffer fatigue and shortness of breath because of the role of red blood cells in oxygen transport. Like vitamin C, folic acid is water soluble, meaning that your daily diet must include adequate intake for good health.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 - Building Healthy Eating Patterns
- Mayo Clinic; Dietary fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet; November 19, 2009
- Colorado State University Extension; Vitamins: Introduction and Index; R. Bowen; August 16, 2003
- Linus Pauling Institute; Vitamin K; Jane Higdon; May 2004
- DermNet NZ; Scurvy; April 5, 2010
- Linus Pauling Institute; Folic Acid; Jane Higdon; April 2002
- Linus Pauling Institute; Vitamin C; Jane Higdon; January 2006