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GP, Tamara de Weijer's blog:

"Vegetables as medicine - a healthy development"

What influence do vegetables have on a person's health? This is a question GP, Dr. Tamara de Weijer, can answer. For the past five years, she has been specializing in the use of nutrition and lifestyle advice in her practice.

Dr. De Weijer is the ambassador for the ‘Nationaal Actieplan Groenten en Fruit’ (National Fruit and Vegetable Campaign). She is also the chairperson of the ‘Vereniging Arts en Leefstijl’ (Medical Doctors and Lifestyle Association).

The SweetPoint and PapriCo brands specialize in (sweet pointed) peppers in partnership with the Coöperatie DOOR. Representatives from these brands asked Tamara about her vision and experiences regarding the subject. The conclusion? No pills, just bell peppers.

In the past, fat was a big no-no; now it is sugar. And scientists, foodies, and bloggers are having heated debates about whether to eat bread and animal products. In contrast, vegetables are never the topic of discussion. Why is this? Because everyone knows how incredibly good for your health they are. This is thanks to all the vitamins, minerals, and fiber these products contain.

No pills, just (sweet pointed) peppers
Vegetables are, of course, not the holy grail for all health issues. However, there is a good reason why Vereniging Arts en Leefstijl's slogan is ‘Geen pillen maar paprika’ ('No pills, rather bell peppers). Did you know that, for example, a sweet pointed pepper contains no less than four times as much vitamin C as an orange? And that an orange bell pepper has a high level of Zeaxanthin. This is an important substance for your eyes. If we were to eat more (sweet pointed) peppers and other nutrient-rich vegetables, the risk of developing diseases would be greatly diminished.

A peek into the future|
Nowadays, we are getting older and older but we are also getting sicker. Between five and ten million people have one or more chronic disorders. If things continue as is, by 2040, no less than 62% of the Dutch population will be obese. In order to lower these figures, it is vital that we start using fruit and vegetables as medicine again.

One of the lines in the well-known 'Hippocratic Oath' that physicians take, does not read "I will use those dietary regimens which will benefit my patients according to my greatest ability and judgment, and I will do no harm or injustice to them" for nothing. Unfortunately, nothing about this can be found in the modern version.

A shift from medicine to vegetables
By nature, people prefer not to take any medicine. Yet, as a reflex, medication is often prescribed. This, while a change in lifestyle could be the perfect solution. Fortunately, an increasing number of physicians are realizing that, rather than prescribing medication, a change in lifestyle is often the best way to deal with lifestyle-related conditions.

I have also noticed that more and more people want to eat healthily, they simply do not know how. Here, GPs can give excellent guidance. For example, they can suggest replacing just one sandwich meal with a cup of soup or a salad. This quickly adds an extra 150 grams of vegetables to your diet.

Cooperation and conveying a single message
Stimulating healthy eating is something we - the government, health care providers, health insurers, and schools - must do together. The government must not be afraid to take measures to make unhealthy products more expensive and more healthy products less so. And growers, farmers, and product organizations must be aware of the fact that they are holding a piece of people's health in their hands.

By finding partnerships, they can implement nice initiatives such a giving school children tours. After all, children are the citizens of the future. They find it very nice to see how things are grown. In this way, we can introduce them to healthy nutrition in a playful way.

Focus on convenient health
The fresh meal packs that can be found in supermarkets are a very clever way to help consumers eat healthily. At home, the cook simply follows the instructions on the package and, in no time, there is a healthy meal on the table. In the past, the so-called 'world dishes' that came in bags and sachets contained a minimal amount of vegetables. Now, these meal packs are full of vegetables. This is already a big help to people who want to eat healthy food.

More and more salad bars are popping up at trains stations and in the to-go supermarkets. New take away restaurants are also ensuring that they offer increasingly healthier options. For example, there are now nutritious meals containing between 150 and 200 grams of vegetables available that you can easily take along on the train. 

This article started with the question: "What influence do vegetables have on people's health?" The answer, without a doubt, is that it is massive. Fortunately, everyone is becoming more aware of this, and we are moving in the right direction. 

SweetPoint and PapriCo are members of the Coöperatie DOOR U.A., which is responsible for the sales and marketing of its members' products.

By: Tamara de Weijer

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