5 Reasons why ‘5-a-day’ Isn’t Enough

The ‘5-a-day’ campaign is possibly one of the biggest public health messages, but it is flawed, and here are 5 reasons why.   1. Original studies showed 7-8 was...

The ‘5-a-day’ campaign is possibly one of the biggest public health messages, but it is flawed, and here are 5 reasons why.


1. Original studies showed 7-8 was best

The 5-a-day campaign was based on a review of a large number of studies which investigated how to reduce the risk of developing cancer and/ or cardiovascular disease. With all the studies combined, the results concluded that the optimal amount of fruit/ veg to be consuming was 7-8 portions, not 5. However, as the amount of fruit/veg being eaten by the public was so slow at the time, the World Health Organization (WHO) thought that recommending 7-8 portions was just too much for people to even try and achieve, and so lowered it to 5. Reducing the recommendations by about a third is a massive reduction. Imagine if you did this for all other things in life. Ate 1/3 less calories a day, or slept for 5 hours every night instead of 8. You would be a wreck!

Truth is, 5 portions has never been optimal.


apple2. Not all fruit & veg are nutritionally equal

The 5-a-day campaign is over-simplified, and assumes that 1 portion of a fruit or vegetable is nutritionally similar to another – this is plain wrong. For example (admittedly a rather extreme one), 100g of broccoli contains approximately 90mg vitamin C, whereas the 100g of apples contains only 5mg of vitamin C. The vitamin C content of broccoli is 18 times that of an apple, which is a massive nutritional difference.


3. Lifestyle/ exercise/ pollution

If you live and work in London, smoke 10 cigarettes a day and go to the pub twice a week you are going to need a hell of a lot more nutrients than someone who lives in the Scottish highlands, never smokes, and only drinks once a month. Exposure to pollutants from cities and dietary toxins dramatically increase your need for a whole host of micro-nutrients, which 5 portions of fruit/ veg simply cannot supply.

Exercising regularly also increases your need for a vast number of nutrients. Lifestyle simply isn’t taken into consideration with these recommendations.


genetics-dna4. Genetic variation

As if to compound the problem of a lack of lifestyle considerations, there are genetic factors to consider too. Depending on your genetic make up, individuals requirements for a specific nutrient can vary by as much as 10 fold. This alone makes a 1-size-fits-all recommendation next to useless.


5. A portion is not always even healthy!

I was shocked to see that a glass of fruit juice counts as 1 of your 5-a-day! Sure, fruit juice might contain vitamins and minerals, but it is also unnaturally high in sugars and devoid of fibre/ pith which are extremely nutritious parts of a fruit. The idea that 250ml of orange juice is equal to an actual orange is absurd. Whats next? Tomato ketchup counting as 1 portion too just because it has a bit of tomato in it?

Images courtesy of stephenchippchrisjames_taylor and telemachus

I hope you enjoy the site, and like what we have worked hard to create, any feedback is very much welcome, after all this site is for you! Graduate of Nutrition & Food Science (Bsc) at Reading Uni.

    The Health Cloud was created in December 2011 by Craig and Morg who have been friends since high school. Our focus is to educate our readers with unbiased health articles and on the side we run our own online health shop. This website is for you, so drop us a comment or send us a tweet, we always take the time to reply!