I’ve heard and read a lot about “fruit being bad for our health”. While studying nutrition at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition I got to learn a lot about many types of diets. We touched 140 and studied in details the most common ones. I learned about paleo, macrobiotic, vegan, raw food, vegetarian; I listened to experts explaining the reasons why they defend their diet and I found some logic in all of them. I also learned that there is not one diet good for everyone, since we are unique and our tolerance of food depends on many factors like race, geography, our mother’s diet during pregnancy, breastfeeding and so on.
Still, there are some common rules that are the same for everybody, like the way our digestive system, immune system, nervous system work.
Last week, for the umpteenth time I heard a friend saying that fruit is bad in winter because it is cold and we need warm food. It is true warm food feels better in cold winters, but saying that fruit is bad or ’causes cancer’ (like I heard and read so many times) is no good information and I would like to share my knowledge and experience on the subject.
First of all, I would like to draw your attention on a few facts contradicting the concept “fruit is bad for the health, fruit nourishes disease”:
- Our blood is naturally alkaline and all fruits without exception alkalize our blood, meaning they help reduce inflammation since it always occurs when the body is too acidified. Oranges, for example, are particularly suitable for this purpose, even though they are considered acid fruits. They actually help cleanse the body, remove toxins, boost energy and get our tank full of vitamin C.
- When you eat fruits, your digestive system has no problem handling the food and will not have to spend most of its energy in the task. When you eat fruit, your cells will be nourished within a very short time
- Our intestinal tract measures roughly 12 times the length of our torso. This allows for the slow absorption of sugars and other water-borne nutrients from fruit.
- Our preferred foods are alkaline-forming, since our body works at its best in an alkaline environment (we maintain an alkaline saliva and urine most of the time). Fruit is alkalizing whereas meat and saturated fats are acidifying.
- Our digestive enzymes are geared to make for easy fruit digestion. We produce ptyalin (also known as salivary amylase) to initiate the digestion of fruit.
- The glucose and fructose in fruit fuel our cells without straining our pancreas (unless we eat a high-fat diet)
(Source: The 80/10/10 Diet, Dr. Douglas N. Graham)
These facts by themselves are a clear evidence that fruits play a key role in our health and should be very present in our diet. “Nutritionally, fruit comes closer to satisfying all of our needs than any other food. Fruits are replete with nutrients our body needs, in the right proportions we require. Yes, some vegetables and other foods may have ‘more’ of a particular nutrient or class of nutrients, but fruits tend to contain the types and quantities of nutrients our body requires. More does not mean better”, explains Dr. Graham in his book “The 80/10/10 Diet”. This was one of the first books I read when I started to properly educate myself on health and nutrition and although I tried his meal plans and found them not appropriate for me, I still find it a very enlightening book.
The glycemic index is what worries everybody about the fruits, but Dr. Graham explains that more than the glycemic index (which tells you how quickly carbohydrates turn into blood sugar without telling the quantity of carbs in a serving of any food), it is the glycemic load which should be kept into consideration. “The glycemic load information more accurately predicts the extent to which a food elevates blood glucose than does the glycemic index by itself. This is because by definition the glycemic index measures carbohydrates quality but not quantity.” To calculate the glycemic load you have to multiply a food’s glycemic index value by the amount of available carbs per serving (grams of carbs less fiber), then dividing by 100. All fruits have thus very low glycemic index since they are mostly water. For example, bananas rate 52 on the glycemic index where glucose is 100. However, since water accounts for 75% of the weight of a banana, it’s glycemic load is only 12 (52×24 grams of carbs divided by 100).
In summary, fruit is the only food we could eat exclusively and be healthy (we cannot survive only on veggies, meat or animal proteins, can we?) and it needs therefore to be a key player in our diet. There are few tricks to avoid spikes of blood sugar or the typical belly bloating, but in general fruit is very safe and very necessary!
During my infertility journey fruits had been banned from my diet because they caused me colitis (so said my doctor and, of course, I followed his directions!); I had all sorts of health issues, but the moment I introduced ripe raw fruit in my diet everything started to get better: no more colitis, no more vaginal infections, no more candida, no more headaches and, SUPER IMPORTANT, only 6 months later my ovocytes where of the best quality ever!
So, for me fruit is magical food and is abundantly present in my diet. If you want to learn more about how to introduce fruit in your diet (and avoid the very common mistakes I made myself!), please write me. I will be more than happy to answer your questions and help you become more familiar with the magic of fruit, humans’ ideal food.