5-A-Day for your health

5-A-Day : a minimum of five servings of fruit and vegetables every day to improve your health!

The Concept

The idea behind this concept, which is used by multiple health and well being organisations around the world like the NHS, is to make sure that we eat five servings of fruit and vegetables every day to stay healthy or to maybe improve our health by making these small changes to our diet. Almost all fruit and vegetables count towards your 5-A-Day, so it may be easier than you think to get your recommended daily amount if you take a closer look at it!

The health benefits

There are many health benefits from eating more vegetables and fruit on a daily basis that can have a very big impact on our lives, especially as we get older or if we do a physically challenging job or sport. As I mentioned in previous posts, the fibre that we partially get form fruits and vegetables is crucial to our health, as well as the antioxidants that they contain.

A diet high in fibre is known to decrease all cause mortality risks with “an 11% reduction in mortality risk for each 10g/d increment of dietary fibre consumed” (1) where as antioxidants are found in colourful foods and limit the free radicals which would otherwise cause oxidative stress to our bodies which can lead to fatigue and even DNA damage.

Studies have shown that individuals consuming a amount of >20 g fiber/day which is equal to around 200g of fruit, had significantly lower risk of premature death by about 40% and also showed to be really beneficial for successful ageing. Furthermore a diet high in fiber has proved to have a good effect on mental well-being, reduces the risk of depression and provides the body with anti-inflammatory markers that help it to recover. (3) This is because of the gut-brain connection, which has a huge influence for example on our mental well-being. The gut microbiome thrives on fibre, the more diverse the better!

Furthermore a diet high in fibre has ben proven to be beneficial for weight loss as fibre satiates us. Studies have shown that by simply changing your diet to a more plant based one, which is naturally higher in fibre, without controlling portion sizes, the individuals lost weight automatically. (1,5)

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NHS (4)


The lowest target that everyone should try to achieve is 5-a-day which means five hands of vegetables and fruits every day because there are so many benefits of having those, as shown below. But research in the UK has shown that young adults get the fewest portions of fruit and veg and only 21% of 16-24 year olds achieve the 5-a-day target mostly because they don´t know how to incorporate fruits and vegetables into their diet.

If you feel the same, that you would like to have a healthier diet but don´t know how, have a look at some meal inspiration and try to make small steps until eating more healthier options becomes a habit and gets easier. Why nor try to incorporate a fruit or vegetable in every meal… chop an apple into you morning cereal or add some berries, take a extra piece of fruit with you when you go to work or school or generally start to think about what vegetables you have in the house before you start cooking and try to include them and build the meal around it.

Meal Inspiration


1 Stephen, A. M., Champ, M. M.-J., Cloran, S. J., Fleith, M., van Lieshout, L., Mejborn, H., & Burley, V. J. (2017). Dietary fibre in Europe: current state of knowledge on definitions, sources, recommendations, intakes and relationships to health. Nutrition Research Reviews, 30(02) http://sci-hub.st/10.1017/s095442241700004x

2 sci-hub.st/10.1017/s095442241700004xhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6356661/



5 https://jandonline.org/article/S0002-8223(09)00700-7/fulltext

Why I choose a plant based lifestyle – 1 – the health benefits

health benefits that you did not know about and how plants can be the remedy for many common issues like high blood pressure, being overweight and diabetes

Being plant based… this is a very important topic for me hence this article. This is not about me trying to convince you of veganism by any means but just my honest opinion on the issue ( one of the many being climate chance) that we are going to face in the future and some of my own experiences with the plant-based lifestyle. As I feel really passionate about this topic there is a lot that I want to touch on, but at first I want to talk about the health benefits for everyone on a plant-based diet and how to include some more plant foods in your life. In order to make this a little bit easier I included a 5 step plan to achieve that. So please just have a read and conclude for yourself if this is important for you or not. If you do want to improve your nutrition please have a look at some of my ideas to make life easier for you, that I included at the end.

By the way, by plant-based I mean a vegetarian or vegan diet as many studies concern these rather than only a vegan diet. The following shows that even if you are not prepared to go fully vegan, there are already many benefits by going vegetarian or by just adding more vegetables and whole foods to your diet.

For the past year I have more or less adopted a plant-based nutrition approach. At first more accidentally because I started to cook a lot for myself and that way started to become more interested in cooking in general. A lot of cookbooks that we had had for years and that I had previously never looked at suddenly sprang to my attention. Cookbooks like “Deliciously Ella” which worked with a lot of ingredients previously unknown to me like quinoa, chia seeds or hummus. Combined with me new goals for nutrition at the time I started to investigate a lot of plant based recipes primarily because they were deemed healthy from social media and other sources, not knowing that over time I started to prefer these over a lot of other food. At first all those recipes seemed really complicated, containing ingredients that I could not remember to ever heard of and was far from using before.

But time by time I got my staples together, Avocado, tempeh/tofu and generally more vegetables and fruit. Avocado on toast and smoothies became my go-to meals and without me noticing I found myself only eating meat or fish on special occasions, going out or when my mum cooked for us and at was just more convenient for me to eat what she had prepared. Diary milk had long gone from my pantry as I found that I always felt sick after having it and was replaced by plant milk wich made my skin a lot better. Over time I watched some documentaries and listend to tome podcasts that made me aware of the actual benefits for my health, my environment as well as my recovery. In the following I want to share these with you, alongside some of my experience in my daily life as well as with the stigma around “being vegan”. I have no intentions on converting you to veganism but on the contrary just want to educate and tell my personal experiences.

How does it benefit me personally ?

Suboptimal nutrition is a leading contributor to chronic disease and premature death in the United States and worldwide

Don´t we all want to life a long, happy life, without having a chronic illness or dying of cancer at the age of 50. At least I, want to see my grandchildren grow up and be able to play with them, instead of telling them that I am too old and can´t move that much anymore because I am in risk of a stroke or have too high blood pressure. I don´t want to be taking pills at a certain age every day to counteract all those symptoms that I could have avoided even getting by just optimising my nutrition. This might take me a few weeks to get used to, but what are a few weeks compared to my whole life?

Even if you don´t see it that way, I beliefe that if you were on of those people having diabetes or cardiovascular disease you would probably do anything to get rid of those and continue with your normal lives. I am no doctor and I am not giving out any advice if you are ill but I just want to outline some of the recent studies about the power of a plant-based lifestyle on disease prevention and even treatment. In my opinion our healthcare system should focus a lot more on disease preventions rather than prescribing pills to everyone who has a problem. There is a lot one could say about the links between the pharmacy Industrie and health care but this isn´t the intention of this post. So if you are interested in proves where a plant-based diet has done much good for ill people and which is not commonly known, because doctors usually don´t look at diet, go on and have a read.

Almost one half of cardio-metabolic deaths in the U.S. might be prevented through proper nutrition.

According to a recent analysis, certain dietary factors, including high intakes of sodium and processed meat products and low intakes of fruits and vegetables, were associated with 45.5% of cardio-metabolic deaths, were as a “plant-based diet” (vegan or vegetarian) is associated as effective strategy for improving nutrient intake. Plant-based diets are also associated with decreased all-cause mortality and decreased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and coronary heart disease. This is mainly due to the risk factors for those, being diets high in animal fat and refined foods alongside obesity (being over-weight). (2)

For example all the time a lot of people die from suvere illnesses like cardiovascular disease. It is the leading cause for deaths in the United States and every 37 seconds one person dies. It is caused by a damage to your heart or blood vessels through Plaque building in your arteries and venes (atherosclerosis). These blocked blood vessels can lead to a heart attack, chest pain or stroke and are mainly caused though too high cholesterol levels. (3) Which are in turn caused by a diet to too high in saturated fat and trans-fats found in animal and highly processed products (diary,eggs,meat) , obesity and Diabetes because high blood sugar contributes to higher levels of Cholesterol. (4)

Diabetes: An estimated 382 million adults worldwide had diabetes in 2013; this number is expected to rise to 592 million by 2035. Numerous studies have shown that vegans and vegetarians are at a much lower risk of diabetes and additionally those diets have shown to be helpful not only in prevention but also in the treatment of type 2 diabetes in several clinical trials. Compared with more conventional diets in treatment of type 2 diabetes, vegetarian diets are almost twice as effective and showed a significantly better control over blood sugar levels. The glycemic control also seems to be linked to diet as the release of an important hormone (gastrointestinal hormone) is for example diminished after eating processed meat. (2)

High Blood pressure is another common issue that many people take daily medication for. 143 million life-years of disability were attributable to hypertension (high blood pressure) and is associates with other leading causes of death as even only 10 mm Hg increase in diastolic blood pressure doubles the risk of a stroke. On the contrary the reduction of 5 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure leads to a 7 percent reduced risk of all-cause mortality, a 9 percent reduced risk of heart disease. That shows the immense impact of good blood sugar levels of out whole health status. A meta-analysis of multiple studies and trials proved that subjects on a vegetarian diet had much better blood pressure levels compared to a omnivorous control group and that furthermore a vegetarian diet decreased both systolic and diastolic blood pressure independent of other factors such as salt intake or exercise levels. Again it is important to notice that only the reduction in systolic blood pressure by 5 mm Hg is estimated to result in a 7% reduction in all-cause mortality, a 9% reduction in mortality due to coronary heart disease, and a 14% reduction in mortality due to stroke, which shows how important even a slight decrease in blood pressure levels can be and that these can be accomplished without medication on a plant-based diet. (2)

Almost 10 Millon people die from cancer every year. Already in 2007 a study published by the World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research showed that the consumption of processed as well as red meat has been associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer because some chemicals in meat and especially meat cooked at high temperature, induces DNA damage which is the source for tumours that then spread around the body and create what er know as cancer (9)When we ingest animal protein, it results in our bodies producing higher levels of the hormone insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1)which stimulates cell division and growth in both healthy and cancer cells and, for this reason, having higher circulating levels of IGF-1 has been consistently associated with increased cancer risk, proliferation, and malignancy(12) .

The World Health Organization(WHO) estimates that more than 1.3 billion adults worldwide are overweight. As mentioned before a plant-based diet is also the optimal diet for weight loss as it generally provides a higher volume, due to a lot more focus on vegetables and leafy greens and a higher Fiber intake that is not only good for our gut microbiome but also keeps us full for longer. Additionally the BMI(Body Mass Index) tends to increase with the frequency of consumed animal products. So if you want to loose weight easily you might want to consider this. Furthermore even if a plant-based diet does not directly mean a healthy diet, as nowadays nearly every desirable product has its replacement, it is easier to loose weight, without changing a lot, if you stop eating those highly processed foods that are high in saturated and trans-fats and mainly found in animal products. Start to replace them with whole plant foods that provide your body with the minerals and antioxidants that it needs to thrive. Many cases have also shown that issues with acne disappears if you cut diary out of your diet.

In addition I want to outline that against many believes fruit sugar is really different to for example the sugar in sweets, as fruits contain fibre which makes us digest the sugars in fruit totally different and don´t give us that sugar rush that we can experience otherwise due to the spike in blood sugar and that imbalances our glucose levels in our blood. Fruits have proven to help with weight loss as they reduce hunger and increase meal satisfaction especially if consumed briefly to a meal.

Foods rich in Fiber such as whole grains, fruits and legumes (6)

But even more important is the fiber intake through fruits and vegetables. Studies have shown that individuals consuming a amount of >20 g fiber/day which is equal to around 200g of fruit, had significantly lower risk of premature death by about 40% and also showed to be really beneficial for successful ageing. Furthermore a diet high in fiber has proved to have a good effect on mental well-being, reduces the risk of depression and provides the body with anti-inflammatory markers that help it to recover. (10)

What is inflammation, and how does it affect us? - Hannah Kurian ...

The lowest target that everyone should try to achieve is 5-a-day which means five hands of vegetables and fruits every day because there are so many benefits of having those, as shown below. But research in the UK has shown that young adults get the fewest portions of fruit and veg and only 21% of 16-24 year olds achieve the 5-a-day target mostly because they don´t know how to incorporate fruits and vegetables into their diet.

NHS (8)

Now you see that a little thing, like just eating more plants, has a huge impact on your overall health. It is easy to make small steps towards a healthy life by including some more fruits in vegetables into your diet that will make you feel better and life longer. So if you are ready to start but don´t really know how to do then scroll down because I have worked out 5 tips to make your life a lot easier ; )

5 steps to a more plant-based diet

  1. build your plate right – a wholesome, healthy meal should contain: nuts, seeds , legumes, whole grains and vegetables/fruits so tray to include these in all of your meal
10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming Vegetarian | Vegan food ...
  1. reinvent your pantry – to make it easier for you to stick to new foods that you want to introduce -> if you don´t have meat or milk in the house you will need to find something else to eat
  2. take small steps, nobody is perfect – try one new thing at a time such as swapping white pasta with whole wheat pasta for more fibre

Approach it like this: Think about the foods that you would like to incorporate more into your diet, rather than thinking of the foods you believe you shouldn´t eat.

! generally eating more fruits and vegetables is really important as they contain the vitamins, antioxidants and fibre that we need on a daily basis, so try to get at least your 5-a-day in (5 hands full)

  1. eat enoughmany people struggle to built muscle on a plant-based diet or feel tired all the time but not because the diet is insufficient, but because plant foods are generally lower in calories than animal products, which means that many need to eat a lot more than before
  2. supplement – Vitamin B12 (because no one can make it, even the animals are given supplements that you consume if you eat meat on a regular basis), Vitamin D (except if you life somewhere much warmer than in Europe), (Plant-based Protein)

The conscious decision to go vegan

I believe that everyone needs to come to his/her own conclusion on this topic and as I said earlier I don´t want to convert anyone to veganism as I think that this is such a big decision that it will only be sustainable if you decide for yourself. But I do want to mention that some of the main reasons for me to go vegan were environmental ones alongside the great benefits for performance in sport. But I think that this discussion would go to far at this point as I already bombarded you with so many facts and researches and I don´t want this post to be too long so that everyone eventually looses interest. So stay tuned for more and subscribe to my blog if you don´t want to miss that.

But if I convinced you that including at least some more plants in your diet wouldn´t hurt, on the contrary probably make your life a bit better, than I am more than happy and want to help you a little bit if you now know that you want to improve your diet but don´t know how exactly. Please don´t fall for the common believes that a plant-based or vegan diet is expensive and complicated for it is not, if you give yourselves the chance to get used to it and built a basis of staples and recipes that you enjoy.

Some of my favourite resources for inspiration and education


– Deliciously Ella

– The happy Pear

– Five Sek Health

Youtube/ Instagram

– Simnett Nutrition (Calestenics, Nutrition)

– Maddie Limburger (at home workouts, Lifestyle)

– Jon Venus (body builder, fitness)


– Game Changers

– What the Health

– Cowspiracy


– Vivo Life (supplements)

– Myprotein(supplements)

– Raw Sports(supplements)

If you are interested in more detailed information such as recipes or meal plants, please let me know ; )

Deliciously Ella Energy Balls


1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19278045













What is RED-S ?

Some of you may or may have not heared about REDs, former known as Female Athlete triad and now the more defined syndrom of Relative Energy Deficiancy in Sport. I want to talk about this as it something that affected me as well as many other athletes in my sport career and that I was until recently not aware of. But then I listened to a podcast called “Trainbraive” (link down below) which is hosted by Renee Mcgregor a sports and eating disorder diatician who is also author of the book “Orthorexia: when healthy eating goes bad”. In this podcast they talked about the Syndrom as well as the connection to eating disorders which intrested me especially as I personally have struggeld with negative thoughts around food for the past year. That was initially the reason why I stared to inform myself about the warning signals and risks that come with REDs and was shocked to find that everything that they discribed was also a common theme in my life.

REDs was first researched in 2014 and is basically when the energy availability is insufficient for the form of exercise that a person is doing. That generally comes from to low energy intake, simply said just eating to less(undereating) or overexercising. In females that low energy availabilty usually can be noticed by a disruption or stop of menstruation which is the reason for the believe that this Syndrom only occurs in women because it was only noticed there. But lately the reseach has shown that also men are concerned even if the warning signs are harder to notice.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) defined RED-S as a syndrome of health and performance impairments resulting from an energy deficit.


Why is this an important issue?

REDs can cause many negative side effects. For females the loss of a regular menstrual cycle (Ammanorrhea) also affects their hormones which leads to hormonal imbalances and finally has a huge impact on bone density. A study in 2018 demonstrated decreased BMD, altered bone microarchitecture and bone turnover markers, decreased estimates of bone strength and increased risk for bone stress injuries compared with eumenorrhoeic athletes and those who are energy replete. But these hormonal imbalances of Oestrogen and Progesterone in women also occur in men, mainly with Testosterone ,which has a profound impact on training adaptation and efficiancy. This is due to downregulations because the body thinks it is starving and puts systems into “saving mode” so that the full potential of the body cannot be reached. Furthermore this might lead to even more training because athletes think that they aren’t doing enough because Thea aren’t seeing results. That is also a main cause for stress fractures which are a bone stress response that can be triggered with either too much training or too less fuel. In addition the prolonged low energy availability puts subjects at risk of infection, illness, fatigue and nutrient deficiencies. A study in 2018 reviewed the largest survey of adolescent/young adult female athletes where 1000 girls/women completed online questionnaires on Low energy availability(EA) which was then used to investigate EA in females and it’s consequences on health and athletical performance. It showed that individuals with low EA were at a higher prevalence of menstrual dysfunction, impaired bone heath, endocrine abnormalities, metabolic impairment, haematological abnormalities, psychological disorders, cardiovascular symptoms and gastrointestinal symptoms. Additionally athletes with low EA had a greater prevalence of decreased training response, impaired judgement, decreased coordination, decreased concentration, irritability, depression and decreased endurance performance compared with the control group(1).

Who is at risk and what are signs?

In general REDs can occur in any sport, age group and level of performance but especially in athletes doing sports with a high power to weight ratio such as cyclists, Triathletes, Runners or Dancers. Furthermore particularly young athletes can be affected as puberty is already an energy demanding time. In the trial mentioned above low EA was observed in 47.3% of the sample of female athletes participating in a wide variety of sports presenting to a sports medicine clinic (2). That indicates that a big proportion of athletes of all types and shapes are affected. Meaning that weight loss can be an indicator but doesn’t has to be as every body is different and might manage the energy deficiancy otherwise on short terms. For Females the loss of a regular, menstrual circle can be a good indicator, as well as a history of bone stress fractures or frequent viral infections. The same goes for men but there other signs of REDS are still hard to recognize as the hormonal imbalances are sometimes hard to notice. Studies have also shown that there are also psychological signs because low EA has a direct impact on psychological well-being. Adolescent females with FHA have been found to have a higher incidence of mild depressive traits, psychosomatic disorders, and a decreased ability to manage stress as well as increased depression, social insecurity and introversion and fears of weight gain compared with healthy controls(3).

Furthermore I am going to review some of the signs that I noticed myself and maybe this will help you to recognize some of those tendencies in yourself or other people that matter to you. If this is the case please immediately contact a professional or at least your coach and try to tell them about your issues because otherwise much time can go to waste during which you are not in a good place ,nor is your training. Also I can only tell from my own experience and that does not mean that those signs that I see looking back will occur or matter for everyone.

My experiences with RED-S

I don’t want to through my whole journey with sport including overexercising and under eating in this post as I think that I need to commit a complete other post to this because it is a really important part of my journey and needs a lot more explaning. But part of this is especially important for the issue of RED-S which is why I still want to share some of it.

During the last season I really started to invest more and more time in my training. I knew I had chances to qualify for the European Championships in Trithle/Biathle (which I explained in the “about me” section) but which is simply a part of Modern Pentathlon and includes running, swimming and shooting. So at the start of 2019 I went to a training camp in Greece with my swimming team. As I am not only a swimmer I swopped some of the sessions and did a running Programm instead. Part of the problem was that I don’t have a coach that overlooks all of the disciplines that I need to train but only multiple coaches for swimming and shooting that try to adapt to my training schedule. Even though my swimming coach is brilliant and very understanding she can’t overlook all the training that I am doing or estimate how exhausting the sessions might be as she is not a running coach. In the end that basically resulted in me training too much and recovering to less because I feared that I wasn´t doing enough and I had to coach who could tell me that i was doing enough already. On top of that I was vegetarian at the time and the vegetarian food options weren´t great as the hotel were we were staying at was very small. All in all I was training too much, nor taking enough rest to give my body the time to recover properly ans eating to little as well. This kind of continued when I went back home and over the time of a month I started to notice some changes. Positively I felt a lot better when I was running as I was just lighter and I felt a lot easier to achieve my times. But on the contrary I noticed that swimming was getting harder and harder and I was always cold, outside and in the water as well. My lips started to turn blue after a few minutes into the training and all I could think of was just to get out of the water. Swimming was´t fun anymore, I started to dread every training session because I knew I couldn´t perform as I was always shaking.

It also had a huge impact on my every day life not only on my performance. My mind started to obsess about food in every situation. All that I was think at every free minute was What am I going to eat next?, Is there a better, healthier option? and what have I done training vize to deserve to eat? In the beginning it was only important that the food that I ate was “good”. Good for my training, my recovery and good in general, meaning no refined sugars or too many fats because that was what I had read about on social media and in articles. But it got to the point were I has massive issues with eating out because I could not control what exactly I was eating. eating and food in general meant stress for me and I completely blocked out my hunger cues so that my body had to adapt to the minimum amount of fuel I was putting into it. At the time I didn´t even notice that I had basically no energy. I dind´t want to meet with friends or do anything except numming myself with training. I thought that always training was what made me happy, but truthfully I wasn´t at all happy at the time. Locking back I didn´t even enjoy the feeling when I stood on the podium at the Europeans, having just won the silver medal because I just did not feel anything. I had started to block out all the emotions to ignore the state at which my body was. And all of that just because I wanted to become a better athlete and do my best. Since then I didn´t get my period and now that I have taken some time of training because I chose to focus on my studies I knowticed that I developed a really bad relationship with training in general. I nor longer enjoy running as much as I did before because it reminds me of the time when I used to train soo much.

That doesn´t mean that everyone that trains hard for a competition and wants to optimise their training will fall into this circle or will have the same negative experiences that I did. My situation is very unique as is everyones and symptoms can be different for everyone as well. All I wish to accomplish by telling my story is to rise awareness that overtraining and not resting properly can easily have huge impact on your every day lives without us even noticing. REDs might be a very new subject that I raised in the sports community but in my opinion it is really important to be informed about for coaches as well as for athletes in order to prevent athletes from falling into this cycle of self-sabotaging or just not being well.



1 Relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S) Siobhan M Statuta,1 Irfan M Asif,2 Jonathan A Drezner3, BJSM

2 Low energy availability surrogates correlate with health and performance consequences of Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport Kathryn E Ackerman,1,2 Bryan Holtzman,1 Katherine M Cooper,1 Erin F Flynn,1 Georgie Bruinvels,3,4 Adam S Tenforde,5 Kristin L Popp,6 Andrew J Simpkin,4,7 Allyson L Parziale1 Original

3 IOC consensus statement on relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S): 2018 update Margo Mountjoy,1 Jorunn Kaiander Sundgot-Borgen,2 Louise M Burke,3,4 Kathryn E Ackerman,5,6 Cheri Blauwet,7 Naama Constantini,8 Constance Lebrun,9 Bronwen Lundy,3 Anna Katarina Melin,10 Nanna L Meyer,11 Roberta T Sherman,12 Adam S Tenforde,13 Monica Klungland Torstveit,14 Richard Budgett15 (British Journal of Sports Medicine)

4 Infographic. Relative energy deficiency in sport: an infographic guide Nicola Keay, 1 Alan Rankin2
Figure 1 Relative energy deficiency in sport: effects on health and performance.
on 18 February 2019 by guest. Protected by copyright.http://bjsm.bmj.com/Br J Sports Med: first published